The Millennial PhD: Creative Survival at Work & Beyond

Ep 28. Setting summer intentions: Breaking the hyper-productivity mindset (BONUS Episode! )

June 10, 2022 Carmela Season 2 Episode 28
The Millennial PhD: Creative Survival at Work & Beyond
Ep 28. Setting summer intentions: Breaking the hyper-productivity mindset (BONUS Episode! )
Show Notes Transcript

What's the deal with SMART goals? How can we challenge the idea that our worth lies in our productivity and re-imagine new pathways forwards? What does strategic planning with a community-care mindset look and feel like? Mela wraps up Season Two with a discussion of tips and strategies for overcoming academic overwhelm and pushing back against the hyper-productivity mindset that's so pervasive in academia and other workplaces.

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Speaker 1 (00:09):

Welcome to the millennial PhD, a podcast about creative survival and beyond. My name is Dr. Carmela Muzio Dormani, and I'm a sociologist, dancer and creative consultant from New York. In these episodes, you'll find inspiration, ideas, and actionable tips for building new pathways forward in work and life. You'll hear from artists, activists, creative entrepreneurs, PhDs, and professional pivoters. We talk about radical humanity and practical steps to follow your dreams, even in the context of challenging social conditions. Before we jump into today's episode, a quick reminder to follow the millennial PhD on Instagram, and to please take a minute to rate and a review the millennial PhD on Apple podcasts. Your rating really helps the show reach as many listeners as possible. You can learn more about me and get access to free creative resources on the millennial PhD Instagram page I hope you enjoyed the episode. 

Welcome back to the millennial PhD. This is your host, me, and we're here with episode, I believe this is episode number 28. This is one of our solo episodes that we have about every other episode on the show where I talk through a topic. And today's episode is going to be about setting intentions for the summer and moving away from academia's hyper productivity mindset. And today's episode, it's a little informal. It's also basically kind of a season two episode, uh, season two wrap up episode. Um, so I'll just be talking a little bit about some of the amazing content that has been on the show in more recent episodes. On a personal note, I will share that as of this recording tomorrow, I have my PhD commencement ceremony, which for me, it's, I actually finished with the PhD back in June of 2020, or I defended in May of 2020 and graduated the Zoom in June of 2020, so right at the height of the pandemic. 

Um, and two years, two years on from that, we are having a makeup ceremony. So I will be attending that. I'm excited to, to commemorate the moment and have a celebration with some folks that I went to grad school with. So that's pretty exciting. I also was looking today as the time has been flying, uh, at a strategic plan document that I work off pretty much every single day. I work off, It's a Google Doc, so I make adjustments to it. If anyone's ever interested, maybe I'll do an episode about strategic planning and organizing kind of sys operating systems for your, for, for yourself. That was something, a skill I didn't have until I was able to participate in a professionalization fellowship. And it made a really big difference for me. But I was looking at mine today, and I realized at the top of it that I have written summer 2020 through summer 2022. 

So I think I put at the top, I have kind of my big picture goals in a couple of different areas, professional, personal, uh, business, et cetera. And I realize that we're coming to the end of that time period. So it's time for me to revamp and look at my goals again and kind of plan out what my, what my priorities are gonna be going forward. So it's kind of an exciting moment, a, a juncture for, for me. And I'm sure that anybody listening has these moments where you kind of recalibrate and this is looking like it's gonna be one of mine. So, um, there's just a cool, you know, personal tidbit that's going on right now. So, like I said, I wanted to talk just for a few minutes. Usually these solo episodes are a little shorter. They're like bite sized episodes and maybe you could listen to while you're on the train, walking in your car, whatever, on the way to class or between classes. 

And I wanted to talk about plan for the summer, which can always, if you're on the academic schedule when we're or the other, can always be an interesting moment. A lot of times we're just a swamp during the summer as we are during the semester, or our time gets reshuffled in a different way. And one of the things I know I go through, and I think a lot of people who have been trained in academia or spent some time there go through is this pressure, this idea that, uh, everything gets kind of put off toward the summer or there's these plans that get made. At least for me, I do this to myself sometimes for sure, where I put a lot of pressure on what I'm gonna do in these couple months of this summer. And I have these really grand plans, right? Usually for writing or now that I'm been launching this business, some of the plans that I have for that are tied up in the summer. 

Even for things like pedagogy. If you're, if you're teaching and still teaching, uh, a lot of times I have, you know, big plans for reimagining some of the materials for my classes and some of that, some of that gets done, but much of it can co can be overwhelming. It can cause a lot of overwhelm, especially when the goals are unrealistic or whatever the, the definition of unrealistic is for you. And a lot of the times what happens is we take this hyper productivity mindset that we've been trained in. If you went to a master's program or PhD program, or even outside of that, just existing in, in hyper capitalism <laugh>, um, we get this idea that our whole value is tied up in our productivity and that this is the time to produce, produce, produce, and rest gets lost in that equation much of the time. 

But also, even if you are carving out the time for rest, which I hope you are, and even if you are carving out the time for community building, relationship building, um, you know, wellness, health, whatever that means for you, sometimes just the pressure of having put these ideas of what kind of productivity we need to get to during these summer months or break months can be really overwhelming, especially if we kind of fall short again, whatever that means to you fall short of those goals. So one of the tools that I know a lot of people are familiar with, especially listening to this, uh, is this idea of smart goals. And I think that these, there's pros and cons of this idea of smart goals. For anyone listening that doesn't know what that, um, anagram, not anagram, uh, what that stands for, It's supposed to be s for specific, M for measurable, A for attainable, R for relevant, NT for time based. 

And I can link in the show notes maybe some, some materials or some documents about these. And I have kind of mixed feelings about the smart goals thing because I think it's, it's something that in some ways has roots in business practices and making more productive employees, right? So not exactly what we're going for necessarily. And I think they can be used, these ideas that our goals should be kind of attainable, especially that middle piece, the idea that our goals should be attainable and relevant and that we should be thinking about the amount of time that they would take can be used to take some of the pressure and overwhelm of that hyper productivity mindset off. On the other hand, I do also feel like there are some cons to the smart goals concept that don't get talked about as much. Namely that they can be really limiting. 

They can still reproduce the kinds of productivity based mindset that we're trying to break down, I think a little bit. So all that to say, take these with a grain of salt, but if it helps you to kind of narrow down and take some of the siphon off some of the overwhelm that you may or may not be experiencing heading into the summer months, maybe that is a tool for you to look at and go back and say, Have I have, I put write a lot <laugh> on my summer list? Because that would be something that would be not so measurable and maybe is going to constantly feel unattainable. And I think with academia and the amount of writing that we're supposed to do, it's sort of, that's, it's always ongoing. The pedagogy development is always ongoing. If you're starting a business or if you're creative as a dancer or any other sort of performer or any other sort of artist, it's the same sort of process, right? 

There is never really a clear end moment, right? A lot of times we have these ideas of the gigs that we wanna book or the benchmarks that we wanna meet. If you're, if you're an entrepreneur. And the reality is that a lot of times we hit those, those bookings, those gigs, or we hit those benchmarks and at that point we're already thinking about what comes next. Um, so again, there's a lot of overlap here that I'm talking through when it comes to academia, the arts and entrepreneurship. So if for you kind of looking at your goals and honing them down a little bit can take some of that pressure off, then I would definitely recommend going ahead and doing that. Like I said, for me, coming up with the system of kind of parsing out what I wanted to do has been really helpful. It's not perfect and it's definitely still in development, But also one of the things that I do with my strategic plan and organizing systems is that I try to carve out the space specifically for personal goals, including things like making time for relationship building, making time to connect with people that I wanna connect with, et cetera. 

And the thread that I really wanna pull through this, and I was talking about with a few colleagues and friends recently, is the idea that the process itself, kind of the journey itself is the point, right? And I know that that is a little bit corny, and I know I've said it in in previous episodes, but it's something that has resonated as I've matured as a dancer and an artist, and that I'm trying desperately to take that mindset and bring it over into the work that I do writing or as an academic, um, and hopefully moving forward into entrepreneurship. So just a reminder to anybody out there listening and thinking about this, who may be feeling and going through the anxiety of being <laugh> a creative, being an artist, being an academic in limbo, uh, maybe not having the position lined up for next year or not, or having one and not knowing when or if you're gonna step away from it. 

Um, a gentle reminder to all of us to try and find the joy and the, the fulfillment in the process itself. Because if we keep reproducing this idea that it's one benchmark to the next, or in academia, one publication to the next, or one gig to the next in the arts, then the time just flies, right? And it reproduces that idea that our whole value is tied up in what we're able to quote unquote achieve or, or profit from or produce. So a gentle reminder heading into this summer, if you do indeed have some sort of break this summer, a gentle reminder to carve out the time for self care and community care, whatever that looks like for you, and to feel good about taking the time to reimagine what strategic planning can look like, right? That doesn't have to be totally productivity and goals oriented. 

So for me, as I look back at that, my two year plan from that was supposed to be summer 2020 to summer 2022. There were some things that I was able to do on there in terms of kind of like tangible, measurable outcomes, which is exciting to look back at and see that I had started a podcast on that list at the top of the page. I had started a business at the top of that page. Um, and, and there were other things that I didn't, that I didn't necessarily get to in the two years. So that can be affirming in some ways. Um, but at the same time, when I go and look to recreate a new strategic plan going forward for the next two years, I wanna bring my values of reimagining what that can look like into that planning process, okay? Cause we reproduced the things that we've learned, and it's an ongoing practice to, to undo those and reimagine what it can look like for us. 

So that's basically, that's my, my spiel for today about smart goals and just thinking about productivity, thinking about the pressure that we put on ourselves heading into these summer months. Um, solidarity to everybody who's teaching this summer. I always taught every summer. Um, and this is one of the first, I think there was another one I I didn't teach. Um, this is one of the first summers I won't be teaching in a long time. Um, so for those of you who are teaching, I hope you have, I hope you have a good and lucrative summer season. I do wanna take this opportunity as part of this episode. Just to wrap up, like I said at the beginning, I wanna wrap up our season two for a moment this season of the millennial PhD. The first season was sort of getting started talking to the initial cohort of people, and the second season I shifted a little bit to expand who was in included, talked to more people who were leaving academia to go into different fields like marketing and consulting that some people are, are interested in and found desirable, but still kind of mysterious. 

I did a little bit more talking to people starting their own businesses, delving into entrepreneurship, and a couple of great folks who run businesses that are related to this topic and who share some fantastic advice in their episode, in the episodes on this show and in their own materials about how to move forward if you're looking at reimagining a creative path for yourself going forward. So if you haven't heard the episodes from this season, I'd definitely recommend many of them. You can obviously look through the titles and see what, what speaks to you and what seems interesting to you. Uh, I was, as always since I started doing this show, I'm always surprised every single conversation by how interesting and fulfilling some of the, the discussions can be. And I'm always excited by the fact that there's a lot of affirmation and there's a lot of wisdom being shared by folks who come on the show. 

So I, I hope you're able to, to enjoy some of that, especially again from folks who might be going into an industry or are in an industry that you're interested in. I thought all of our guests this season were pretty dope and shared some amazing advice over the next couple of summer months in keeping with the theme of this episode of not trying to be, you know, hyper productive and burning oneself out. Well, I'll be basically taking a break from producing new episodes. I will be putting out new content on the Instagram, so if you enjoy some of the content that comes out over there, definitely connect with us at the millennial PhD on Instagram. Or you can also connect with me personally at meam uio on Instagram. Um, and I may be rolling out some either free or very low cost, um, kind of support materials for folks who are looking to move away from academia or who are looking to cr carve out kind of a creative lifeline of some sort. 

So you can keep an eye out for that. But in addition, mostly it's gonna be about just continuing these conversations and trying to continue the work of reimagining and recontextualizing what the pathways forward can be like for our, this generation of academics and, um, of folks who are looking to recreate what our professional and creative lives can look like. So I appreciate everybody who's tuned in over the past season. New episodes will be back. It's not gonna be that long of a gap, probably will start back up around August. Um, so definitely as always, touch base with me. Send me an email, the millennial I love to, I've gotten a few emails, uh, over the last couple months and I really appreciate those, or feel free to DM me on Instagram to touch base. Also, if you're interested, uh, in coming on as a guest in the future, definitely reach out. I would love to hear from you, and I look forward to continuing to connect and thank you to everybody for the collective creative wisdom that has come out of this season. And I am so excited for what comes next. Have a wonderful summer. 

That's it for this week's episode of the Millennial PhD. You can find more content, resources and information on Instagram at the millennial PhD in this collective moment of reevaluating our relationships with work and exploitation. I look forward to connecting with you and building stronger bonds of community and collaboration. I would love to hear from you via email at the millennial PhD with any feedback, comments, questions, or concerns, or if you're interested in coming on the show as a guest. That's all for now. It's been real. See you next time.