February 4, 2011

Winter Break - Finding Clarity

Post by:

Juan J Estrada
International MBA 2011

Winter break commitments are hard to keep. During my break I intended to read a book on case interviews and search for and apply to jobs every day. But then I was at home with my family, with good friends, good food, good 80 degree weather, and a beach for New Year’s Eve. And I just didn’t feel like looking for a job or keeping track of school anymore. I wanted to actually break apart from it all during the break.

By the beginning of January I had some remorse about having bummed out for so long. It didn’t seem like the way to compete, and not competing in this business track of life I chose can be a hazard. But on the other hand, I got to recover a lot of energy and enthusiasm during that time, no longer feeling worn out and instead having a strong desire to take over the new semester.

This made the way I took on my break more than worth it. Mentally disconnecting yourself from a subject allows you to recover from your tiredness from it and take on the challenge in a better way. One usually thinks one can do lots of things at the same time. Vacation and work, take a break and look for a job, do homework and chat online. But then it seems like you never really get to unplug yourself from anything. Everything ends up running constantly. Personally, I try multitasking all the time. It’s harder for me to not do it, even being aware that everything would be easier if I actually didn’t.

So to reinforce the feeling that what happened during the break was actually a positive thing, I came across a good article by a guy from West Point. If you have time you should actually read the entire thing. The author kind of has a military tone, which you may like, or not, but he definitely makes several good points. After referring to a research study by Stanford University on multitasking, the author elaborates:

“Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube[1].”

Coming back, I all of a sudden happen to know exactly what position I want when I graduate. And what my plan B is. This clarity was not there last semester, and I highly doubt I would have gotten it without having pulled away from school. Thus the importance of time and temporary isolation from work, school, or whatever it may be. So now, back to school, work, and the white, cozy, beautiful Boston weather.

[1] http://www.theamericanscholar.org/solitude-and-leadership/

About the author:

Juan is a first year International MBA student. Before coming to BU he worked coordinating a project on the development of a medical device in Madrid, Spain. Through this European Commission sponsored project, Juan had the opportunity to immerse in a variety of European cultures both in professional/organizational and in social terms. Prior to his experience, Juan had obtained a Biomedical Engineering bachelors at Georgia Tech, in Atlanta. Having grown up in Colombia, Juan enjoys experimenting in the kitchen with tropical ingredients, dancing -specially Latin music- and keeping up with the news and what is going on in the world.

[1] http://www.theamericanscholar.org/solitude-and-leadership/

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