Just as I want people to feel connected to the science being done, the scientist has to feel connected to things around them. That being said, have you really sat down and thought about what your priorities are? Lab, family, friends, TV shows starring McDreamy, YouTube? I know what you might say to people, I mean, you’re supposed to say lab right? Graduate school/Postdocing is my number one priority, I am fully devoted to science (that sounded a lot more sarcastic using the robot voice in my head). One thing is for sure, if you don’t know what your priority list looks like, you can get into a lot of trouble. Usually with people who thought they were higher on your list.
Truth is, things change a lot over time. That’s the problem with making lists, they just aren’t that flexible. Priorities are really more like…a pie, a French silk pie. Why French silk pie? Because I am writing and I get to say what kind of pie it gets to be. Anyway, deadlines come in lab and you need to get that experiment done at all cost. That first anniversary is tomorrow and you need to go celebrate and get a gift (yes even on a grad school salary and postdoc ones aren’t that much better). Your best friend just had a horrible break up and calls you to talk them through it. In the end, it comes down to the percentage of time you allot to each, and everyone wants the biggest chunk. It’s up to you to dish out the slices.
However you slice it, be truthful. Don’t tell your significant other that you would drop everything for them at any point, and then show up late to your anniversary dinner. Conversely, don’t tell your boss on Friday that you will have an experiment done by Monday, but take the weekend to go to the beach with friends. It comes down to expectations; what you promise has to equate with what you deliver.
How does your pie look? You have to make the first cut and decide who gets the biggest piece. Everyone involved won’t always like the size of their piece but it is your pie to slice. They don’t have to like the size of their piece to eat it. But don’t lead them to believe they are getting half the pie when you only have a sliver left to offer. That is one of the biggest mistakes you can make with your PI. It is one of the biggest mistakes you can make to those who are supporting you through grad school. And, when it comes down to it, getting the first piece can be more important than getting the biggest piece.
I know what my pie looks like and it tastes delicious…and now you want pie.