Friday evening was, for all purposes, the end of the business year in Europe. Most offices are largely closed or minimally staffed until January 5, two weeks from now. For us, our labs are idle for deep-cleaning and our clinical trial and testing work is paused.
But hard on that date, the second week in January will be enormously consequential for me, filled with binary events that will put my future onto one or another path.
By February 1, life will be very good, or very different, in many ways. So I’ve been pushing hard all week finish planning completed, brief key people, and coordinate their assignments.
It’s not dissimilar to the fine cooking that I devour on MasterChef. Ahead of time, they plan the dish, gather ingredients and tools, and define the timing and sequence of steps. Then on the day and within the time allotted, prepare all of the elements, bring them together on a single plate, and make a beautiful presentation for serving.
The winner goes through; the loser goes home.
I have five difficult problems that need to be solved, each with significant people issues to be solved alongside objective milestones. Still, like to think that my soft skills have improved a lot in the past two years, and they are really needed here.
Lucy Kellaway writes that Many people can master the numbers, but to be able to do that and know how to deal with the whims and mood swings of your clients and colleagues takes dedication and application – that is what sorts out those who make it to the top from those who don’t.
Or, as my research director used to counsel me, It’s 10% science.
The other necessary skill is knowing when to stop.
Outside, friends and colleagues have pushed back from the office, pulled out their reindeer sweaters, and bundled off to evenings with friends and celebrations with family. Nobody will work, or will want to talk about work, for the next two weeks.
So I need to make the same mental shift. For two weeks, set the worries aside, disconnect, and refocus on family and personal interests.
Instead, I’ve settled into cooking and reading, photography, writing and rambles. I’m making cookies, shopping, joining friends for drinks, planning a visit to Colorado.
My first batch of shortbread snowflake biscuits was great!