01 January 2013
Reflect from a distance
During a summer of undergrad research, the student who was training me left for three weeks to go to Japan. Our project was not in its most successful phase and the industry PI had been increasingly merciless in hounding this student. Upon returning from Japan, he seemed unruffled by the external hazing we were receiving, a dramatic shift from his extreme distress regarding the PI and project even as he left the lab to drive to the airport.
I attributed it to the relaxation of a vacation, but he told me that whenever you have to make important decisions or solve hard problems, you need to get away from it for a little while. You can see things from a different perspective, let your mind work in the background, and be away from the immediate environmental pressures associated with whatever you're trying to sort out.
I try to take a least one big trip a year, just to invite a little perspective shift in. I particularly like it around the new year, where I can look at bigger pictures goals without being distracted by the small things that become clutter in your life at home.