August 12, 2009
Having served as a mentor, coordinated mentoring programs, and led mentoring discussions at conferences over many years, I can attest to this simple truth: Professionals who are provided with helpful guidance avoid unnecessary mistakes and distracting anxieties and thereby do their best work.
Unfortunately, many individuals do not have access to personal mentoring. Therefore, in the interest of helping people help themselves, I offer the following five core strategies for developing a more satisfying and successful academic career. You can be your own mentor.
Get a Life: Conceptualize Your Career in the Context of Your Whole Life
First and foremost, this strategy entails accepting responsibility for one’s life choices and for the consequences of those choices. The cumulative effects of our large and small decisions have brought us to whatever point at which we find ourselves. Each person has made choices to pursue or not pursue particular graduate studies, to accept or not to accept employment in a particular location, to live or not to live as a single person, to have or not to have children. Certainly there are circumstances beyond our control, but, even then, we have choices in our attitude and choices in how we respond.