In my experience, there are a lot of ways to have an academic career. While you may start out with one destination in mind, sometimes the road you intended to take is blocked and you have to find a different route. You may get part-way down your path and realize that it wasn’t what you expected. Or, you’ll discover that this path is much more rewarding than you thought it would be, opening up new opportunities you never could have imagined.
One of the attractions of an academic career is the freedom and autonomy it affords you. While certain milestones and processes are set by others, the work you do to meet those career milestones is substantially under your control. The extent of your freedom and autonomy varies by career stage, institution, country, and so on but being an academic in most places still involves considerable freedom and autonomy.
In some ways, that makes things more difficult. You become responsible for making decisions that will have an impact on your career. And yet you often have very little guidance for those decisions from those who will evaluate your work. Your freedom can start to feel like the freedom to work all the time and do all the things. Or, you can feel like academic freedom is a lie and you have to work on particular topics, in particular ways, in order to have an academic career at all. This is not sustainable.
Your career is a journey, the kind of journey where the final destination is less important than the things you did along the way.
Wayfinding is a rich metaphor for the process of career planning in this context precisely because it allows for the sense that you may modify your route (or even your destination) as you go along. This is big picture planning that provides the map and guidebook for the next stage of your journey.
Signs that Wayfinding might help:
- A career transition is on the horizon: a new job, a promotion, a leadership role, retirement. You’d benefit from some help planning the route to and through that transition.
- You have successfully secured a job, a promotion, a leadership role, or a grant and would benefit from some help to figure out how to adjust your work practices to really succeed at this new level.
- You are having trouble juggling your myriad work and non-work responsibilities. You would benefit from some help setting priorities.
- You feel like you’ve lost your way. You may be succeeding by some measures but you feel like the path you are on is not quite right in some way.
- You want or need to increase your research activity in some way (more or different publications, more funding, more impact). You’d benefit from help figuring out how to do that.
- You are frustrated that the things you find important don’t seem to be valued and/or that the things that are valued aren’t that important to you. This makes priority setting and motivation difficult.
- You want to make good use of an upcoming sabbatical/study leave, a research grant, or other resource that has become available.
How does it work?
The Wayfinding process is about aligning your actions with your values and dreams. You start with reflection and writing to get to those deeper issues. I will provide you with questions and prompts for this phase. We then use what you’ve written as the starting point for a coaching conversation. We talk on the phone for 60-90 minutes. I record the call so you can come back to it later. After the call, I will follow up by email with a summary of the key points from our conversation and some further questions or activities to help you go a bit deeper.
Wayfinding includes a one-year Foundations membership in the Academic Writing Studio. This is an online membership site where I share resources and host an online forum. The resources in the Studio may be helpful to you as you set out on the journey we’ve mapped out. I will give you specific recommendations as part of the process. You can decide how much you want to engage with other members of the community there. You will be added to the community when you register for Wayfinding, and will receive a series of email messages introducing you to the Studio. You can save these for later if you like.
You will come away with:
- A sense of purpose and an understanding of how your day to day activities contribute to that purpose.
- A big picture view of the direction you want to be moving in, which you can use as a basis for making decisions about priorities and boundaries.
- A clear sense of the specific steps that you will take next, the part of the path right in front of you.
- Perspective on any pressing issues and strategies to get unstuck.
- An overview of who might be able to support you with particular parts of this journey in a variety of ways. Prompts and suggestions for identifying other sources of support. Strategies for approaching some of those people.
You will probably also find that having a clear sense of your direction, and the big picture of how your scholarly work fits together, also makes it easier to communicate your achievements to those who evaluate your work for various reasons. Academics care about what they call “trajectory”. Having a reasonably coherent narrative that connects your various activities and achievements eases many of these processes.
A Wayfinding session costs £450 + applicable taxes. I require clients to pay in advance. When you submit the form, you will be taken to PayPal to do that. (You don’t need a PayPal account. You can use your credit card.)
I will get in touch with you within 2 working days with information about how we will proceed. I’ll send you the homework. You’ll book an appointment for our phone call. We’ll talk.
If you are already a member of the Academic Writing Studio, please log-in and use the form inside the Studio.