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[personal profile] liv
[personal profile] ceb asked me about ambitions, continuing her trend of coming up with excellent prompts.

I think of myself as a fairly ambitious person. I'm not singled-mindedly focused on my career, though, and I think it's likely that that will hold me back from getting to the very top. It's also true that, at 35, my life is pretty much everything I hoped for. I have a job that I really enjoy, that is worthwhile and stimulating and well respected in general society. It pays enough that I basically don't have to worry about money day-to-day, which is as rich as I've been interested in being. And I have really good sustaining relationships and continue to meet new people, and a good place to live, and hair long enough to sit on, and enough reading material.

Beyond that, well, most prominently I'm ambitious to be a successful scientist. That is, I'd like to discover something that makes a real difference to the world in addition to just doing useful detailed stuff. I don't much care about being famous but I'd like to be a name in my (narrowish) field. I'd also like some of the trappings that go with that kind of success, I'd like a bigger lab with a decent team of students and RAs working for me, and I'd like to earn the academic title of Professor one day. I'm not sure how likely this is to happen; the way research is funded these days, if you haven't made a breakthrough by your mid 30s, you probably never will. Not because you have to be young to be original, but because it's really hard to convince anyone to take a risk on giving you enough money to do research if you haven't already proved you can be successful. I'm already really struggling because the first ten years of my career haven't been stellar enough for me to look like an attractive investment. If I can't have that, I still want to do the best science I can, to continue to be part of the scholarly community.

This may make me unpopular with geeks, but in some ways I'd like to be promoted to a leadership role. Yes, that would mean more of my job would be management rather than cutting edge science and teaching, but I think I would quite enjoy that and be good at it. I'm not thinking of being queen of the world, but perhaps running a department or something on that sort of level. So I do put a certain amount of effort into building up a portfolio of reasons to promote me, and looking out for jobs I could jump upwards and sideways into. I'm trying to keep my options open about whether that's promotion through the traditional academic route (eg reader > professor > chair) or through a more overtly managerial career ladder (eg head of year > head of department > director), or some combination.

Other than career, I want to continue building my skills. Non-fiction writing, primarily as a blogger, or perhaps science popularization or even a textbook. I would like to get good enough at programming to make useful OS contributions beyond just fixing bugs that are too small for serious programmers to bother with. I probably could be putting more effort into improving at those sorts of things, though. I definitely don't care about them as much as I do about my main career.

So I'm in a strange sort of position that I can imagine and hope for being more "successful" than where I am now, but I'm also quite contented with my current situation. I am pretty sure I would be happy to continue at the level of financial and professional success I'm currently at for the rest of my working life. And after that, well. I might pursue ordination, or some other way of using my talents to make a difference to some small community I can interact with personally. Assuming my health and financial situation are good enough for that kind of mostly altruistic second career, of course.

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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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