I have this habit, for better or for worse, of sketching out my short- and long-term future plans every year just before the Christmas break. The short-term usually covers the next year: what conferences I’d like to attend, what professional goals I’d like to accomplish, and my often-overstated research plans to publish all the things. While its often a bit disheartening to look back on these outlines and realize how naive my publishing goals really were, I’ve found its been a really interesting exercise in self-reflection.

Even though I’m happy to see 2016 come to an end for many (political) reasons, this year has actually been a great year of personal and professional growth for me. Many of the stories that I’ve been involved with were published, including a culturing study of the gut microbiome and a microbiome study of the cystic fibrosis lung. Ryan Buensuceso and I started a science podcast series. And the loose ends associated with my main PhD focus are beginning to be tied. It was also an amazing honour to be presented with The Karl Freeman Prize for my closing seminar in the Biochemistry department, and IIDR’s Michael Kamin Hart Memorial Scholarship for my PhD research. These awards are particularly important to me because they come internally from within the Department and Institute in which I work; these decisions aren’t being made based on a written proposal or application but on myself as a colleague and trainee.

Looking ahead, 2017 is going to be terrifyingly awesome. If all goes to plan, I’ll be defending my PhD, taking a much deserved break (more on that later), and starting a new adventure (also more on that later). But as overwhelming as this might feel at times, this yearly-exercise of looking ahead allows me to review snapshots into the long-term goals of Fiona’s of past. For me, this is a really important way of stepping back from the every day to realize that even though I may feel that goals and deadlines change, or that I’m unsure of my day-to-day research progress, my long-term goals remain the same.