What I Learned Last Year

Photo by @GradLifeMcGill instagrammer @aleksbud

Photo by @GradLifeMcGill instagrammer @aleksbud

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! (more…)

Grad School Goal-Setting

Photo by @gradlifemcgill instagrammer @aleksbud

Photo by @gradlifemcgill instagrammer @aleksbud

The new year is almost upon us, and that means it’s almost time to create new year’s resolutions to bring with us into the beginning of January and the following 12 months. Many of us create these goals – exercise more, eat healthier, be happier, submit your thesis – but what is the difference between goals which are achieved and those which are not?

When setting goals, it’s important to set SMART goals. That not only means that the goals should be “intelligent” in the classic sense, but should also follow the acronym: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Following these guidelines will help you formulate and follow a specific plan, and get you on track to making lifestyle or other necessary changes to accomplish your new year’s resolutions.

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Hello, Technology

Photo by @gradlifemcgill instagrammer @kipunsam.daily

Photo by @gradlifemcgill instagrammer @kipunsam.daily

So, it’s over. I did a two-week technology cleanse, and learned a lot about myself and my surroundings. I was able to achieve most of my goals, or at least move in the right direction toward decreasing my overall screen time.

What I did:

I was able to limit my social media use through the day, and I became much more mindful of when I was checking my phone and how much time I was spending on it. I didn’t watch even one episode of Netflix, which means I did even better than what I had planned for the two weeks. Instead, I found other activities to fill my time. I did Sudoku puzzles, printed and completed crosswords, and spent time filling in my colouring book – great for relaxation! I also increased my physical activity levels, because every morning instead of sitting on my computer or phone before heading into the lab, I was able to do a quick workout or yoga session. That made me much more productive during the day, which was one of my main goals.

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Waiting for Midnight

1.5

The year may change and so might the setting, but those final moments leading up to midnight always feel the same. The champagne cork will pop soon, and the clock will shove December and the last twelve months aside. We wait in anticipation to welcome a year that’s new – a set of four digits we are not yet used to writing out. The countdown to midnight always comes with a whole lot of excitement and a little bit of angst. It is a chance to start fresh, but it also comes with some pressure to think ahead, to set new goals, to better ourselves and change all those little pesky things about our lives that we wish we could change! Who knows what the year will bring. That is the beauty and the scariness of life, after all…

When I welcomed 2013, I wished for a whole lot, like any ambitious, hopeful person would! I wished to surprise myself with my progress in my PhD work and be successful, even (and especially) outside of my comfort zone. I wished to cherish simplicity and beauty, and to recognize those important moments in time, before they become memories. I hoped to be able to dwell less on what is not absolutely crucial and to worry less (which, I admit, is easier said than done). I vowed to make more time for family and for people I care most about. It was also important to me to make time for new creative projects and for passions that add to who I am – and who I wish to become. I wanted to write plenty, travel plenty, cook plenty, photograph plenty, and love plenty.

Looking back, 2013 turned out to be a great year.

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A wishful look ahead

You may think it’s too late for New Year’s resolutions, given that it’s already mid-February. But, the truth is, it’s never a bad time for some wishful thinking about the future, however near or far ahead you’re thinking.

Particularly on days where I lack motivation, inspiration and positivity (hey, it happens to all of us), thinking positively of all that I’d like to achieve in the coming weeks and months helps keep me looking forward to all that’s to come, and gives me the strength to change my mood and make the most of my day. This wishlist is both academic and personal, just as my aspirations are.

Here is my wishful portrait of the coming months, and what keeps me looking forward everyday:

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