It’s a new year. What are your plans for making the most of it? To kick off the year, we asked scientists at a range of career stages and from a variety of disciplines to share their work-related resolutions. If you’re not sure what you want to prioritize in 2018, check out their responses for some inspiration. For more ideas, early-career scientists from around the world suggested resolutions for their fields in Science’s NextGen VOICES.
My 2018 resolution is to focus more on the present. It’s all too easy to forget the many wonderful things happening around me. Yes, I’ll need to work hard to prepare for the future, but I don't want to miss out by not enjoying these remaining, albeit intense, moments as a graduate student. Staying present will also mean trying to keep an open mind when it comes to my career, knowing that it’s OK to change my mind and maybe head in a direction that leads me to a job I don’t expect.
- Samantha Jones, doctoral student in biomedical sciences at the University of California, San Diego
I would like to find the time to do more hands-on work—coding, in my case—together with my students. We cannot really be good supervisors if we don't struggle a bit with some of the students' and postdocs' daily headaches!
- Roberta Sinatra, assistant professor of network science at Central European University in Budapest
I resolve to wait and listen. Too often I react immediately to a stimulus, be it an unexpected lab result, an idea that spontaneously blossoms, or the urge to shout back into the cacophony of angry voices on the internet. Instead, next year I will wait, listen, and prepare for the right moments to act.
- Geoffrey Heinzl, postdoc in chemistry at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Silver Spring, Maryland
My resolution is to go completely out of my comfort zone to disseminate my work. My plan is to make social science more appealing to the general public by doing more video-related work, even though I hate having my picture taken, let alone being filmed. I also plan to participate in public events. For example, this month I will lead a discussion about immigration and the far-right at a performing arts festival. This will be an exciting challenge for someone with very little exposure to the arts.
- Rima Wilkes, professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada
Read more papers! Say “no” when I’m spreading myself too thin.
- Sara Wong, doctoral student in cellular and molecular biology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor
I am determined to effect some positive change for disabled academics. I have a few grants under review at the moment to build on my research identifying the challenges faced by disabled academics in the workplace and develop training for line managers and universities on how to best support their disabled colleagues. I also intend to do more to improve the employment situation of researchers on precarious contracts by pushing for more secure contracts and offering support to colleagues who need a morale boost. We need more academic kindness.
- Kate Sang, professor of management at Heriot-Watt University in the United Kingdom
For 2018 I resolve to stay healthy, enthusiastic, and curious, despite the exhausting hours that come with research. I want to talk with more nonscientists and share the vitality and beauty I see in the scientific method. But I don't want to be just another lecturing nerd. I'm going to try to be more humble by also listening to more nonscientists and by thinking about what they have to say without trying to judge or divide people.
- Mark Richardson, postdoc at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
I resolve to allow myself to be bored, often. It is through boredom that the most interesting and genuinely creative ideas arise. In the superficial chatter of modern science, it's easy to be busy, and much more difficult to be profoundly, productively bored.
- Daniel Nettle, professor of behavioral science at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom
Every year I have two resolutions: one that breaks a bad habit of mine and another that’s an attainable yet difficult goal. For my career, the top resolution I have for breaking a bad habit is to stop letting negative statistics affect my career choice. I tend to dwell on things like only 19% of grants get funded, or that only 15% of postdocs can land an academic position, among a million other scary stats. But in every statistic, there are the people who are able to achieve these things, so I constantly remind myself, why can’t that be me? As Ph.D. students, we’re already part of many statistically small categories. Only 2% of the U.S. population holds a doctorate degree, so the odds of 19% and 15% seem a little bit less daunting (to me at least). For my difficult yet attainable career goal resolution, my top priority is to somehow contribute to minority and female empowerment in some way. Ideally, I’d like to teach a course specifically designed for this, but even just starting a blog with general life advice for these populations would be sufficient.
- Alexandra Schober, doctoral student in neuroscience at Albany Medical College in New York
My tenure review is coming up next year, so my New Year’s resolution is to do everything in my power to succeed. But I also resolve to work and strive for my goals in a way that does not jeopardize my own well-being or that of my lab members. I am planning to explicitly set down my personal and professional values and expectations in a “lab philosophy” statement that I will share with all the members in my group. Finally, I also promised my mum that this year I would take more holidays!
- Melanie Stefan, lecturer in biomedical sciences at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom