The Tomorrow Game

I’m really starting to hate the tomorrow game. The tomorrow game convinced me to extend my stay in Zambia by a week. The tomorrow game led me to believe that I would have the necessary approval from the Research Ethics Committee at the end of last week and the necessary approval from the Ministry by the end of this week. The tomorrow game pushed me to tentatively schedule focus groups for next week. The tomorrow game is killing me. No approvals. But of course, the approval is coming tomorrow.

Each day has been the same roller coaster. I wake up hopeful that today will be the day. By mid-morning, I’m disappointed that I haven’t gotten a letter yet. By lunchtime, I start feeling really sorry for myself and I’m kicking myself for extending my stay. At the end of the day, I have a conversation that fools me into thinking that I’ll get the approval the next morning. And then the roller coaster starts again with the hopeful morning. I desperately want off this ride.

In an attempt to cope with this, I am doing what I do best…making plans. I love plans. Plans give me purpose and direction and take away some of the anxiety that I feel in the face of uncertainty. As long as the plans encompass the full range of likely scenarios (from best case to worst case), you can’t go wrong. So here it goes:

Plan Awesome will be enacted if I get the approval by the end of the day Monday (July 12th). I hold focus groups and administer surveys on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and hold key informant interviews on Tuesday afternoon and Friday. Elena holds a fourth focus group and collects surveys the following week while I wrap up my last key informant interviews from Boston, thus completing all data collection in 60 days. I would say the odds of this happening are about 1% at this point, but I never count out the power of prayer.

Plan B will go into motion if I get the approval by the end of the day next Wednesday (July 14th). I conduct as many key informant interviews as possible and one focus group on Thursday and Friday. Elena spends the following week holding focus groups and administering surveys while I wrap up my last key informant interviews from Boston. We then make arrangements with the local Boston University office to collect the administered surveys, thus completing all data collection in about 65 days. I’m gonna give this about a 20% chance of happening.

Plan C is the course of action we will take if I get the approval at any point after I leave and before Friday, July 23rd. Elena does as many focus groups as she possibly can and administers the surveys. I do key informant interviews by phone (less than ideal) and the local BU office collects the surveys, thus completing all data collection within 70 days. I’m guessing there’s a 30% chance of this happening.

Worst case scenario, I don’t get the approval before Elena leaves, which will mean surveys are administered by email, all key informant interviews by phone, and no focus group data. This would be a major bummer and totally destroy my hopes of not having every moment of my summer completely monopolized by data collection, but at the end of the day, it’s still something and with the data from Lesotho and Swaziland, still plenty for a dissertation and to answer my research question.

AND the bonus to all of this is that we are catching up on transcription, so at least my extra week off isn’t a total waste regardless. Although I’m not sure it will really pay off, I owe the folks at COLMR a big thank you for being so understanding and allowing me the extra week of leave. I may regret taking the week if we don’t get the approval in time, but not as much as I would regret not taking the week if we do get it in time. So if you’re reading, thank you!

One Comment

Nici posted on July 9, 2010 at 10:50 am

Hang in there. Your perspective is great. Keep the hope alive. Think how far you have come from when we last spoke on the phone a couple months ago! We will keep praying

Post a Comment

Your email address is never shared. Required fields are marked *