Not My New Year’s Resolutions Again

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.

from Four Quartets, ‘Little Gidding’ by T. S. Eliot.

Two years ago, in January 2020, I shared a list of things I planned to do in the (then) New Year. Here they are again for completeness.

  1. Go to more live concerts. Although I enjoy the radio and recordings, I far prefer to listen to live music at concerts. Attending such events helps also support the venues and musicians as without an audience both would die. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t heard any live jazz in Ireland!
  2. See more of Ireland. I moved to Maynooth two years ago but, apart from one visit to Galway and one to Armagh, I still haven’t travelled much beyond the Dublin area. I must get around more, especially to the South.
  3. No more working weekends. I’ve been in the office for at least one day every weekend since I started at Maynooth. I did the same when I was at Sussex too, and seem to have relapsed. I have always had problems managing my own work/life balance but I realize it’s not setting a good example to younger folk to be getting it so obviously wrong. I’ll add not reading work emails at weekends to this.
  4. Be a better colleague. This is something I think one should always strive to be, but I have particular need to improve. I know that over the last four years or so things weighed very heavily on me behind the scenes and I ended up letting people down on too many occasions. I apologize for that and will try to do better in future.
  5. Read more books. I used to be a voracious reader of all kinds of books, both fiction and non-fiction, but I somehow got out of the habit. I now have a stack of unread works that I must try to read before the year is out!
  6. Finish more things! Not unrelated to No. 4 above, I have been very poor over the last few years at completing projects and writing papers. I need to clear the backlog and get on with some new things.
  7. Do more to promote Open Access publishing. I’m not surprised that the status quo in academic publishing is proving hard to dislodge, but I believe that change can be achieved if researchers take the initiative. I’m proud of what we have achieved so far at the Open Journal of Astrophysics but there’s much more to be done.

I achieved very few of these in 2020 or 2021. The pandemic made the first two impossible. Number 3 changed when we had to start working from home, which made it difficult to get away from work at all but since I moved into my house in August 2020 I at least have a study on which I can close the door. I haven’t improved much on the 4th one either, although the reasons for the past two years are different. Likewise with 5 and 6. I have done as much as I possibly can on 7 but there is a lot to do.

It is true however that I haven’t coped with the stress and isolation of being a Head of Department during the Covid-19 era as well as I should. I don’t know whether it is the high levels of anxiety that have sapped my energy or whether I’m just feeling the effects of age.

Anyway, there’s no improvement in sight in terms of workload so I suppose I’ll just cut and paste this old set of non-resolutions into this year and hope that 2020 v3 turns out better than the first two! More immediately I think I will take the opportunity to do a thorough clean-up of the house before the examinations start (a week today).

Finally, today Irish becomes an official language of the European Union so let me take the opportunity to say athbhliain faoi shéan is faoi mhaise daoibh!

P.S. I note with disappointment that once again I have been denied the opportunity to turn down an award in the New Year’s “Honours”.

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