New Year, New Projects

As 2016 has well and fully started, I've come back to school from what will probably be the last long vacation with my family for a while. Like many over the New Year, I like to make resolutions that I end up forgetting to keep. Working out, updating this blog and my website, playing more guitar, and all sorts of other things that are good for me made that list this year. And so far, the only thing I've really put any effort into is playing more guitar, but today that changes. Today I knock another off this list by writing a blog post- with a semi-strong committment to publish on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule. Two down! Woohoo! Writing this made me think about how much of a creature of habit I am. With rare exceptions (waffles can do that to a man) I get up at the same time every day and make the same thing for breakfast. When I eat at a restaurant more than once I almost always get the same thing every time. I do my laundry and cooking at the same time every week. Once I start a routine, it's pretty much set for life. So why do I have so much trouble piling on a bunch of New Year's resolutions? I think the answer lies in motivation. If I wanted to run several times a week, I would already be doing it and running wouldn't need to be a resolution. I want to be in shape, and I enjoy running once I'm a few minutes into it, but in the end I would rather spend the extra hour in bed every morning than put in the effort. And now that I've gotten myself stuck in the routine of sleeping in the extra hour it's incredibly hard to pull myself out. So like with this blog, I am going to be setting my alarms to 6:30 instead of 7:30 this week, and make a committment to some form of exercise 5 days in a row. If I can do that for two or three weeks in a row I should be able to reset that routine.

Over the winter break I set another new routine: my work schedule. In the last few weeks of the semester I started working on an optics project with one of my professors. While I was home I set up the project by reading background materials, brainstorming strategies, organizing my thoughts and installing the necessary software. While I didn't have much experience with optics beforehand, I do have experience with numerical simulations for pde's like Maxwell's Equations and the concepts of bifurcations/bistability. This let me jump into the brainstorming process, which is my favorite part of any project. There are always so many ideas bouncing around, so many considerations and possible avenues of attack. One potential consequence of this project would be putting my research interests in climate change on the backburner, though I knew that was going to happen depending on my choice of advisor anyway. However, with the project I'm currently working on and other projects I discussed with my advisor I would be able to bring some control theory into my research, which I am very excited about. So far, the advisor seems like a good fit for working style, and my progress has been good thus far. Because of the brainstorming over the winter break I got into a productive habit and now I've been able to set up a full-time lab/school work schedule that will produce a paper by the summertime!

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