The Art of Reflection

Tuesday 3 September 2019

The world has become such a fast-paced environment that it feels like we can’t succeed if we’re not constantly moving in some sort of direction. In the craze of trying to keep up, we often lose sight of the big picture and instead of reaching our desired destination, we end up lost. What we often forget is that stopping every once in a while, is just as important. Giving ourselves a moment to pause and reflect is paramount to success in every meaning of the word. The same thinking applies when undertaking a research project. I was so excited about my Laidlaw project and had such big aspirations for what I wanted to do and it was very difficult to stay focused on the end goal because I kept getting so many ideas and went on so many tangents about my research that it got overwhelming. In fact, I’ve had to redefine my research project on a couple of occasions because it just got too much for me to take on for the purposes of the scholarship. What has allowed me to stay relatively on task, however, is the simple task of reflection.


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As a student studying medicine, we are expected to write a reflection after almost every major activity that we do and, although it does become tedious at times, it has really helped me to track my progress. I decided to do something similar with my research. I am not a big fan of writing and so I try and find other ways of reflecting on my work, namely by talking. My supervisor, Dr. Frank Sullivan, has done a brilliant job of guiding me on my very first project and he has made the process so much easier for me. The chats I have with him on a weekly basis force me to consolidate all my work and see my progress from the last meeting. In our chats, we are obviously discussing the finer details of my project, but we also talk about my overall project goal. We often come back to talking about why I am doing my project. I truly feel that reflecting on your reasoning behind a major project is vital for the proper development of it. It’s crucial that you remember what your end goal is, what the big picture is, because if you don’t know why you are doing something, then you may as well not do it at all. Dr. Sullivan keeps my passion for the research alive and in check so as to make sure I don’t bite off more than I can chew. Apart from him, I also discuss with my family and close friends about my project and they offer a different perspective onto it all that really affects me and allows me to keep that passion going. There are days where I am frustrated with everything and just want to stop it all, and that’s where these close friends and family come in to help me relax and rejuvenate my fervour for my work. Talking to them reminds me of my excitement for the research and sparks my curiosity once again, allowing me to dive right back in with the same energy. By forcing myself to stop every once in a while, I allow myself the opportunity to go further than I normally would have.


I would like to thank my supervisors Dr. Frank Sullivan and Dr. Ross Upshur for their guidance on my project, as well as Dr. Derek Sloan for his ever so helpful insights. I would also like to thank my family and friends for their support along the way. Last but not least, I would like to thank Lord Laidlaw for giving the opportunity to students like me to follow their passions.

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