Goals for 2019: a year of return

Hi all! I know January ended, and I haven’t written a single post yet. I have been pretty active in writing for other things. First of all, for my thesis. Then, for my volunteer editor position at IEEE Potentials. Finally, I also updated my CV and resume. And if you follow me on Instagram (which has a new handle now, @catiabandeiras), I have been pretty active there. And this takes me to the first IG post of 2019! That is where I revealed the word of the year: RETURN!

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2019! (English version in the comments) . 🇵🇹 No dia 1 de janeiro, foi hora de virar costas a 2018 e dizer olá a 2019. Olhando onde o rio encontra o mar, continuei a pensar no que quero para este ano. Anda meio mundo a definir palavras para 2019 e a minha palavra é "retorno", com algumas palavras secundárias também. Voltei a Portugal recentemente e sinto uma enorme necessidade de me religar ao país onde nasci e cresci e às várias culturas que nele existem, enquanto acabo a minha jornada académica por aqui e penso noutros voos. Daí começar este post em Português. Para o blog e redes sociais, não posso prometer muito mais para além de que haverá mais posts sobre Portugal, apesar de o blog continuar a ser escrito em inglês. Que planeiam para 2019? . #portugal #vianadocastelo #minho #hello2019 #riolima #seaside #phdlife #gradschool #wordoftheyear #palavradoano #vidadoutoral #traveltheworld #womeninstem #actuallivingscientist

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I spent my NYE in the North of Portugal and, while I was on the 4h30min bus trip, I started writing down what would be my goals for the year. I listened to a few podcasts on resolutions and goal setting and I soon realized that the most actionable tools that I would expect, were not what I was striving for the most.

Of course, I want to become Dr. Bandeiras ASAP and to find a nice post Ph.D. job. That’s an obvious goal. And also publish all my manuscripts and spread the word about the open source code I developed. But one of the podcasts stated the relevance of setting a word for the year and also of not letting these goals be determined by society.

When I was looking for a word of the year, I thought a bit about my Happiness Project, that I kind of botched last year. I was setting words for each month, which was nice. But one major word to guide my year would seem more simple.

I knew I would return to Portugal in December 2018 and I thought I didn’t want to get a new job right away in order to find my grounding and complete my Ph.D. without the usual noise I have in my head about doing it all at once. I don’t know if I ever explained it well here but, while I spent almost two years in the US, I’m only going to graduate from my alma mater in Portugal. The stays at MIT and HMS were visiting research periods, not part of a double degree program. So, returning to Portugal and to my parents’ house was a logical choice. Which doesn’t mean I will find a job in Portugal or stay here forever. I still like to travel and go places. Therefore, as I wanted to reconnect with living in Portugal and exploring my roots, “return” was the right mantra.

I set out goals that were aligned with this sense of return, grounding and exploring my roots. And also on the concepts of fun, creativity, and letting go. These two resolutions seem antagonistic, but they make every sense for me! Even though I show a bit of my goofy side on my platforms, I consider myself a serious, career oriented person. So, I wanted to balance grounding with fun. Let’s see how I planned my life around it, with specific, attainable, time-limited goals. Will you take on any of these goals? Be my guest!

1 – Run a 10k in less than 1 hour by December 2019

I have this goal since 2013 when I started running more frequently. I completed a 10K in Cambridge last year in 1h9min and I know I can push myself to run faster. I need to psych myself into doing that carefully because my right ankle sometimes likes to prank me by spraining itself. Running is very therapeutic and something I do just for the sake of it. My goal is to improve my running average pacy by 0.5 Km/h every three months and I registered in the local free-running trophy, providing 10 free races to practice for all the locals who register. My first race will be a 5K later today actually, wish me luck.

2 – Complete a creative project per month

Exploring creativity has been something that brought me a lot of happiness and that takes my mind off work a bit. Some of my happiest moments in the Ph.D. were related to creative activities! I aim to devote one or two hours per week, at least, to the creative project of the month. My first project was redecorating my bedroom/office for a lighter and nature-inspired vibe. I will write about tips for a better working space soon!

3 – Become Dr. Bandeiras in the first semester of 2019

While this is a year of grounding, I want to start new career avenues and to finish what I started. If you’re a reader of this blog, you’ll know I started my Ph.D. in 2015, with the research period starting in 2016. I had four years of Ph.D. funding, and now they’re over. I took one month longer to send the draft to my supervisors than what I had anticipated, but I sent it by mid-January as I planned it after I realized by mid-December self-imposed deadline would not happen. Other milestones would be to submit the draft to the University by the end of March. Then, it’s not in my hands anymore, but with good luck, I can defend by May.

4 – Travel in Portugal…and maybe somewhere else

As I spent two years in the US and traveled in the country, and to Canada and Iceland as well, grounding means spending less money traveling. While there would be other cheap European destinations for a weekend getaway, I opted for traveling by road in Portugal this year to connect with my roots. My main goal is to visit places that were important to me while I was growing up, but not only. When I visit those, I’ll let you know and why they were important too. I will put more posts on cheap travel on my Instagram, that’s planned for. However, if all goes well, I hope to celebrate my Ph.D. by traveling somewhere distant. I already have two countries in mind, but I will keep my mouth shut until that actually materializes. Send me suggestions of places to visit anyway!

You might think: only four goals/resolutions? Yes. I have way more in my head, but I decided to stick to four main ones. Each one of these resolutions has subtopics that I aim to address. I am trying my best to keep it small, as the major goal is becoming a doctor and, after then, finding a post Ph.D. job that I love!

Are you keeping good track of your goals and resolutions? Share with me!




  1. Lily
    February 2, 2019

    Hello soon to be Dr. Bandeiras,
    Great list of goals. I commend your running goal. The last time I tried a 10K it did not go so well and definitely took me over an hour to complete the race. I have no doubt you’ll complete your PhD. It’s been awesome following your journey and I look forward to reading more about your accomplishments and travels.

    1. Cátia Bandeiras
      March 18, 2019

      Hi Lily! I’m so sorry I didn’t get to your kind comment earlier! My thesis writing made me like a blogging hermit. Hope you’re still running 10K! I’m running a 10K in 2 weeks and it will definitely still take me more than 1h, but I am slowly improving 🙂 do it for you. Thank you as ever for your nice comments along my journey!


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