This is my fourth post in a series about rebounding from academic failure, where I determine my purpose. If you’ve read the previous posts (Post 1, Post 2, Post 3), you’ve probably noticed that there’s a lot of overlap. Not only am I centering everything on three points of failure (job search, publishing, and being denied tenure), but I’m talking about the same types of reactions after experiencing academic failure. But, each does have a bit of a different twist.

Purpose and Re-evaluation – Twisted Together

blue rope tied in knotThe part of rebounding from academic failure is tightly coupled with last week‘s post on re-evaluation. The outcome of re-evaluating my efforts, and even myself, has been the act of determining my purpose. But, this hasn’t been a one and done experience for me. I am always working toward determining my purpose. It’s partly a question of feeling fulfilled in my work. Part of feeling fulfilled has to do with feeling like the work I do makes a difference.

After experiencing academic failure, I question that quite a lot. When an article submission is rejected, I wonder if anything I write will make a difference. After I didn’t get a job I interviewed for, I wondered if I’m really supposed to be a professor. Following being denied tenure, I wondered if I should be in higher education at all.

 

Moving Forward with my Purpose

My strategy involving determining my purpose is all about moving forward. If I didn’t ask myself those questions about my purpose, it would be a lot easier to give up. That means I wouldn’t rebound from academic failure. Sure, I’ve quit things before. But I work to avoid quitting being my initial response. After all, quitting is final. When I think about my purpose, my thinking is on the future; on next steps. This is really important for me when I experience academic failure.

Let’s face it, failure doesn’t feel good. Academic failure downright sucks. I do allow myself time for grief. Sometimes that grief pops back up, even after I feel like I’ve moved on. I have to remind myself to continue to determine my purpose.