'Tis the time of year when we get to sing carols and hopefully get to hang up our nosepegs and filters for a time and savour the joys of Summer in the South Pacific / Indian Oceans. As usual the last year has evaporated faster than ever and more than ever has been crammed into it. Has progress been made? Did you have goals to measure progress against?
Looking back over the year, I hope that I have learned some lessons about balancing work and life. I was fortunate enough to be able to escape during October and that was a much needed escape. Since I returned, the ante has been upped and I am just about ready for another holiday. This tells me that I am getting something wrong. It is that old battle between ideals and reality I suspect. The battle between standards and the need for instant gratification. Oh well.
Europe did teach me a lot about life. The shops full of high quality expensive "must have" items frequented by non-smiling hurried shoppers contrasted with the smaller shops in less affluent parts of town filled with local products and frequented by smiling unhurried shoppers. Who has it right? The contrast was even more striking in Dubai with the Malls at one extreme (who the hell needs a Ski slope in a shopping mall?) contrasting with the alleyways of the old Souks.
I am determined that, in 2007, I have to wrest control of life from work. Work is an evil necessity to pay the bills. It is important to have a passion for what you do, but at the end of the day bigger things than you are going to dictate the outcomes of your day; State of the Ark equipment, salaries that are many thousands of dollars less than at the other teaching hospitals in town, referrals that are spurious. There are many battles that have to be fought but we need to enjoin only those we can win, or those that affect basic human rights like equal pay for equal work - yes the West is not yet won. We cannot fight them all.
We have to be clear in what we want to achieve at work and outside of work. We need to set strategies so as to achieve goals, big and small, at play and at work. I recall the Prof I worked with in Los Angeles, in what seems like a previous life. Being Southern California, the climate was not unlike much of Australia. He kept a collection of ties on the back of his office door and whenever he had a paper to write or a grant submission to complete, he would wear a tie. Whenever he appeared in the lab wearing a tie, we would either ignore him or stop the procrastination. This proved a great incentive to get the job done so the tie could come off! He also had a loop of small bells that he would wear around his neck when he went to management meetings. Whenever things got off track and started going around in circles he would start fidgeting and the bells would start jingling. A great focussing aid. There is a lot to be said for not taking ourselves too seriously.
This is a good time to re-evaluate priorities and strategies. We must all measure our achievements and reset our goals. This is an integral part of Quality Assurance ensuring we continue to move forward. There is much to be said for applying the same principles to our lives outside of work.
This is the time to enjoy being alive, to celebrate life. That, after all, is the spirit of Christmas. Celebrate your teams, share the triumphs and share the failures of the year gone by. To those of you keeping the ship on course over the holiday period enjoy the (hopefully) relative peace and quiet. To those holidaying, have a safe, happy and thoughtful break.
May the spirit of Christmas be with you all and may the New Year treat you well.