Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to reflect on what it means to be an academic in contemporary times and particularly how the value associated with being a researcher has changed in currency over time. Design/methodology/approach: Based on Cavarerro's work about stories of the narrated self, in which revealing self narratives are viewed as a vehicle for uncovering (self) identities, this paper reveals the pitfalls associated with trying to change focus and direction and attempts to reinvent oneself in times that are characterized by a return to the essentially conservative conventions of educational research. Neo-liberal, market driven, utilitarian models of education dominate the contemporary research landscape. What constitutes evidence is under debate. How evidence is obtained and analysed is subject to traditional definitions which may not have direct relevance to contemporary phenomena in post-modern times. Those in positions of power reduce performance to minutiae and constantly want prescriptive teaching to produce observable outcomes. Yet, is this possible in environs that are formed by individuals in a multiplicity of contexts, cultures and locations? What does this mean for research which focuses not only on the lived experiences in classroom but the recognition that no two classrooms are the same and the quest for the identification of a "good teacher" is like that of the holy grail? Findings: This paper reveals the pitfalls associated with trying to change focus and direction in academic research. The author has reinterpreted the driving procedure - look in the mirror, indicate and then (if it is clear) move - in her career to being reflective and reflexive about where she has come from, signaling that she wants to change or shift her position and then attempting to make the move. This process of change is continuing and not always continuous. Originality/value: The article reflects a personal story that is intended to resonate with audiences experiencing similar contexts in contemporary academic life.