What I Learned Last Year

As I was setting my goals for 2017, I had some time to reflect on everything I learned in the past year. 2016 was a year full of ups and downs, new friends, new experiences, and large milestones. I want to share some of the things I learned along the way, because these are the main themes that I’m taking with me into this semester and beyond.

  1. Things change: Plans, thoughts and ideas change.
    Change is inevitable, so be aware of it and be flexible when it arises. Never let it stop you from moving forward – if you can adapt to your changing circumstances, it may open up new ideas or paths that you didn’t know existed, and you may well be better off in the end.
  2. “You never know unless you try”
    This motto is true in many cases – you never know if you’ll get the job if you don’t apply. You never know if someone is willing to help you unless you ask. The result will either be exactly what you hoped, or you can take the outcome as a learning experience for next time. Simply putting in an effort is a huge step forward, and many new opportunities can arise if you just try. Put yourself out there, and be open to new experiences, because you never know what may happen!
  3. Collaboration takes co-ordination.
    Working with other people (supervisors, lab mates, bosses, peers) takes organization and patience from all parties. Sometimes you need to wait for another person to complete their portion of the work before you can move forward, but keep in mind that you can only control your contribution and reaction to every situation. So, make sure you stay positive and on track! If you understand this before starting a new project, you will likely be much more tolerant and productive through the entire process.
  4. It’s worth taking time to put things into perspective.
    Sometimes, events happen and the knee-jerk reaction is something along the lines of, “this is the worst thing that could have happened!” Take a deep breath – It likely isn’t the worst thing that could have happened. In fact, how much influence does this event have, and really how important is it? Taking time to put it into perspective can save a lot of anxiety and help you be more organized at the end of the day.

Grad school teaches you many things, and among them are important life skills and practices. Taking these four ideas into 2017 will hopefully help me to grow as a researcher, employee, and person. There are always new things to learn, so I am going to try to keep an open mind and see what this year has in store!


Banner image by GradLife McGill Instagrammer @aleksbud // @gradlifemcgill

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