As 2016 comes to a close, I reflect back on my accomplishments and failures. It may sound harsh to say, but not all went perfectly well in 2016. In a blog post I wrote around this time last year, I wrote a brief list of what I had to look forward to in 2016. You can see that list below.
To recap, I wanted to:
Well, I definitely accomplished numbers 2 and 3. I successfully defended my dissertation proposal in March, 2016. I don't believe I have ever felt more nervous and scared in my life. Even more nervous than my wedding day, I knew that a poor presentation to my dissertation committee would set me back a couple of months, something I couldn't afford. The good news is that I pretty much received a perfect score, the highest score my dissertation committee have ever given.
August 8th, 2016 will always be a special day in my life. On this day I successfully defended my dissertation. I felt much more calm on this day. My wife, oldest son, parents, brother, his girlfriend, both research directors at Children's Institute, an RCSD administrator, and a work peer were in attendance as I wrapped up two years worth of research in 30 minutes. One of my proudest accomplishments.
I felt pretty good going into my dissertation defense. At this moment, I was reflecting back with my dissertation chair on where I started and how I got to that point in time. I was blessed to have the dissertation committee I had. I could not have asked for a more supportive, trusting, open, receptive, and mentally challenging (in a good way) pair of researchers to mentor me through the dissertation process.
Completing your dissertation is no small task. Two years of research and writing that lead to a 30 minute presentation that is open to the public result in you becoming or not becoming an Ed.D. When I first started the DEXL program at St. John Fisher College, our cohort consisted of 21 individuals all with the same goal of defending their dissertations by April, 2017. Well, up to this point in the program, our cohort has 17 individuals remaining. Some of us have already successfully defended our dissertations. For the others, they have until mid April, 2017 to defend in order to be eligible to walk at our graduation ceremony in May, 2017.
I attribute my success in the program to grit. A term I have heard many times before, but never really looked into the true meaning of what it really entails. Angela Duckworth wrote a book about grit. Urban Meyer, in his new book, refers to grit in a passage before he begins to discuss their football season at The Ohio State University. Grit, in some respects, can be defined as working diligently and hard on something for as long as you can. Typically, being engaged with a similar task/project for as long as it takes to complete without turning your attention to something else. Finishing your dissertation takes grit. You need to remain focused on the same task for as long as it takes to complete, for example, spending two and a half years writing and reviewing your dissertation.
One of my favorite podcasts of 2016 was an episode of the EntreLeadership Podcast. In this particular episode, Brian Buffini was interviewed. An Irish immigrant that has become a very successful real estate businessman. In his podcast, he says, "How much do you get out of an hour as opposed to how many hours does it take?" I interpret this phrase as not wishing your time away, but living in the moment and getting as much accomplished as possible, rather than wishing time away or wanting it to fly by.
My focus throughout the first half of 2016 was on my doctoral work and dissertation. I did not spend as much time focused on my family as I should have. However, once I completed my dissertation in August, I was better able to live in the moment and spend quality time with my family. That is my focus for 2017. Spending more quality time with my family, enjoying every moment, and not wishing time away. Rather, getting the most out of the time we spend together.
As you reflect on 2016, what were your successes? What were your accomplishments that you are most proud of? What are you going to focus your time, attention, and energy on in 2017. I'd love to read what you have to say. Please post your comments below.
Wishing everyone a safe, happy, and healthy 2017.
As always, thanks for reading!
Charles J. Infurna, Ed.D.
Charles Infurna, Ed.D., is the owner and lead coach of Forza Athletics Track Club. Dr. Infurna has coached National Record Holders, National Champions, All-Americans, and Conference Champions at the Post-Collegiate, Collegiate, and High School level.