[I'm taking 'relate to my own research interests' here to mean 'relate to my own professional situation']
Although I'm a U.S. citizen and thus don't have to worry about needing a job in order to stay in the U.S., I also will need a job in order to support myself (paying for rent, food, etc.) as soon as this program is over. Because it's so diffcult to save on a grad student salary in NYC, I won't have more than a few months buffer. So perhaps there is a similar looming "countdown" feeling.
The idea of needing a back up career is something that also weighs on me. But as hard as a I know the academic job market is, I worry that going back into the professional world after 6 years away will be even harder (my work background before the job was a bit scattered between local govt and K-12 and outdoor education, the latter of which I'm really not interested in going back to. I really don't even know what field I'd be satisfied working in at this point.) Kim - I wonder how much of your time you devote to this "back up" plan, and in what ways? Personally, I'm putting all of my efforts time-wise into academia, and figure I will deal with sorting out Plan B if it comes to that, but I'd rather not take any time or effort away from Plan A (academic job.) I have recently been wondering if there are small and non-time-intensive things I could be doing to increase my skills and legibility for non-academic contexts, though, without really taking away from Plan A. Would love to hear if others have strategies they're using.