When I say passion, do you think of Albert Einstein, or do you think of the steamed up car in Titanic? My apologies for those not familiar with the movie (are you living in a cave btw?) but you get the picture. Being a scientist is a tough row to hoe these days. Funding is tight, fear is rampant, and many students are heading to industry rather than academics because of these fears. I’ll talk about fear later, so back to passion. Are you a budding or scientist because: (a) you like the idea of appearing to be smart (well yes as a matter of fact it is rocket science), (b) you like figuring things out, or (c) your parents always wanted a scientist in the family. Hopefully you picked “b” or something along those lines. I am a big believer in passion – doing things for the love of the game (another great movie), not because of external pressures. There is no magic bullet for success in science, but if you are passionate about science, then you are much more likely to succeed. Why? Because most of the hours spent in this direction will be fun, not painful. I use the word direction rather than goal very specifically, because when you are passionate about something you are never done – always striving to be better.
So how do you know you’re passionate about something? Here are a couple ways to tell. First, look back at your life to date and get some clues as to what you spent your time doing. When I was young, I was pretty curious. I dug up my dead turtle to see what he looked like, and I set up an experiment giving plants coke vs water. Of course, I forgot to consistently give them either one, so that experiment didn’t work too well. The Nancy Drew series (she was a detective) was one of my favorites. These are some clues from my life that I was (and still am) very curious – a nice trait to have for a scientist. Here’s another way to tell. If you were on a desert island, which happened to have an awesome lab with all the most expensive equipment, kits from ThermoFisher, and a robot assistant to help you out, would you still do science? If yes – awesome! You’re on the right track. If no, then maybe time to do some serious thinking.
For more on this subject:
The Art of Work, by Jeff Goins – it’s never to late to find work consistent with your passion. Jeff goes through several different examples of people doing this in many different situations and at different ages.
How to Find and Do Work you Love, Scott Dinsmore. TedxGoldenGatePark. – finding your passion by figuring out what you can’t give up.
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