Unfinished business

It is funny how the mind works.

Throughout these first months in Costa Rica, I have no one single time recalled a past achievement. Not even the hard-won ones: the published papers, the funded projects or a good evaluation on a course.

Not one single time.

It is the unfinished business that haunt me.

The paper with S. that we didn’t finish after two years working hard on it and polishing our number crunching skills.

The other one with B. that I didn’t have the energy or motivation to revise again for the 10th time in two years.

Or, even worse, the individual feedback to the papers that the students submitted to a seminar I had to cancel due to illness.

Seven months have passed since this last unfinished business. And still I wonder if I should read the papers (again) and send the feedback. I would close a chapter but, what would be the value of that for the students now? The damage is already done.

I wonder if I am the only one that leaves a trail of unfinished business. May be in the super competitive academic world it is almost impossible not to leave things unfinished. But do all people feel as guilty for those things that could not be done or finished?

May be it is a matter of attitude. One could just accept that shit happens, even when one tries to work hard and avoid it.

Or may be, it is just the result of bad planning, stress and overwork. And the difficulties of keeping up with the motivation of projects when they linger for too long on to-do lists…

I find it hard to go for the “attitude solution” since I do care for doing a good job. So maybe, once again, the solution is right in front of my nose:

– Do less

– Say “no” to more things,

– Chose shorter projects and

– Plan better.

It seems easy right?…So, why is it not that easy….

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