4 pm

Summer warmth and slight drizzle. And no brolly, of course. Soon it’s time to leave the desk with all the unfinished work and rush to the nursery.

The next weeks leading to holiday are full of deadlines to meet, conference visit to Edinburgh, and more deadlines. However, deadlines are goooood! They make us jump and get going; rise to the occasion. And deadlines set only by yourself are not enough. Incentive is better coming from somewhere else than within.

Meeting deadlines, finishing tasks. Now that’s what we all love doing. However all too often in academia nothing is finished at that point, if it had an externally set deadline in the first place. It’s hard to live with continuous flexibility, for it also means no rewards. And as rewards, I here mean the simple pat on the shoulder from the boss or a ‘well done’ toast with colleagues. Nothing fancy, mind you. Yet these occasions are rare and far apart for the average academic.

Which brings me to evaluation. How do we measure our accomplishments in academia then? At a career stage such as mine, a relative beginner in ‘the field’ (defined in the loosest possible way) after having changed course after PhD, there is hardly the thrill of seeing one’s name in print regularly on top of oven fresh high quality, international, peer-reviewed articles. And those are the only ones that count. But are they? What about other forms of success? Are we blinded by the narrow-mindedness of funding bodies and boards that grant us permanent tenure (or not)? I’d like to say, yes we are. But this summer, I am on a quest to find something more. Find sense in what I do even if I don’t get the traditional academic rewards as often as I’d like.

I attach a link to a website & book that is aiming for just that: changing the way we evaluate our success


Coming from a Harvard Business School professor, I believe him, although I don’t share the strong faith that no doubt has had a profound effect on his decisions in life. Perhaps people with (in?) faith have some advantage in dealing with the hardships in life, looking beyond our human nature to something greater, thanking them or blaming them in turn. Still, in this respect I don’t think I’ll ever change. Perhaps that is what a hard-core natural science degree does to you. [Much like a hard-core business degree makes you value money above everything else? Perhaps!]

My quest goes on. And I intend to report in more often!

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