Professional superstitions

While 2010 was a good year in a number of ways, I have to admit that I felt a bit of glee when the year switched over to 2011.  You see, I have a little secret.  While I am in many ways a sane and rational person, I also am a bit superstitious:

I believe that odd-numbered years are lucky years for me.

I admit that such a belief is bizarre.  But, strangely enough, it’s a pattern that’s borne out multiple times in my life.  I was hired at this job in an odd-numbered year.  The vast majority of my publications occurred in odd-numbered years.  I earned my MS and PhD in odd-numbered years.  Heck, I even won “most improved swimmer” in an odd-numbered year, way back in the day.  🙂  And even though there was nothing comforting about going up for tenure, I will admit that going up for tenure in an odd-numbered year made me feel a tiny bit better about the process.

Sometimes I wonder if the superstition has become somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Am I more confident in myself in odd-numbered years, leading to my increased success?  Do I tend to take more risks that pay off in odd-numbered years?  Or is it just a weird cycle, in which the things I do in even-numbered years lay the groundwork for the odd-numbered year successes?  After all, it’s not like I, say, don’t submit any papers during even-numbered years.  But the papers I do submit are more likely to be rejected (like the spectacular rejection I received just before the end of the year—ouch) in even-numbered years.   So perhaps there’s a bit of each of those factors at play here.

When we think about professionals harboring superstitions, we naturally think of athletes, but my own experience has me wondering if other types of professionals—academics, people in other careers—harbor superstitions as well.  Do you have any superstitions related to your work life?  What are they?  Do you do anything differently career-wise as a result of your superstitions?

On a totally unrelated note, I’ve decided to participate in WordPress’ PostAWeek 2011 challenge, so watch for weekly posts throughout the year.  If there’s some topic you’d like me to blog about, feel free to suggest it in the comments.  Thanks!

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