This is my list of words that I’ll be returning to again and again in 2013:


I’ve heard this idea from a number of places. Have a word you can return to to check in with and make sure you’re actually going after your goals for the year. 

Ask is my word because asking is how I can reconnect with the world. What questions do I need to ask?

  • How do I_____?
  • Would you like to ____ with me (‘go out’, e.g.)?
  • Can you teach me________?
  • I am applying for _________.
  • Where can I find _________?
  • Can I help you___________?
  • Have you read__________?
  • Did I do this the best way I could have?
  • Do you think you can give me some feedback?
  • Will you publish my paper?
  • I’m curious about________. 
  • Do I have to be a postdoc forever?
  • Have I formed better habits around_____?
  • I would like __________.

I don’t ask things of people or myself nearly enough. I settle for the status quo. I of course will ask questions in the lab and hopefully ask good ones. For too long, I’ve just not asked due in large part to a fear of vulnerability. I learned to hide behind 10 layers of brick wall in my mind and rarely let anyone in…not even me at times. What do I want? I’ve almost never had a good answer for this question. 

    You may have noticed I have some other words below ‘Ask’. These are other words to focus on this year. Finish, doing, deciding, writing and it will be good enough. Not perfect. I made this image the lock screen on my phone and I put it into Evernote as a note so hopefully I’ll look at this often and be reminded. Asking terrifies me a lot of the time. I’m that person who won’t even bring up bad service at a restaurant to the server; or often ask why something is one way vs. another. 

    So my main word for this year is to ask. Of others. Of myself. Of the internet. 

    Do you have a word or words for 2013?


    Author: Ian Street

    Ian is a plant scientist and science writer relating stories of plant science and scientists on his blog, The Quiet Branches as well as other outlets. You can find him on Twitter @IHStreet.

    One thought on “Ask.”

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