For many years I wandered through my career, jumping on various opportunities as they came along, but without a real “direction” for where I was going.
I was fortunate in that I made some good choices – getting into bioinformatics early on, and then getting into proteomics early on – before the fields became popular. But, despite the outward success this has brought to me, I’ve often struggled with, “who am I?”
For years the “who am I?” question was subsumed by goals, the latest being “getting tenure.”
But here’s the thing I realized once I had achieved that goal: I was doing it, because it was the thing to do. Not because it fit into some kind of “grand plan” for my life.
I’m glad to have done that, but after doing it, I felt a noticeable void: what next?
Tenure is a huge goal for many people, and a lot of those I’ve spoken to after they got tenure felt that it was anti-climactic.
I would go one step beyond that – it is a “life crisis” inducing event if you’ve been focused on it too much.
That’s why it is so important to have a picture of your ultimate life and goals in mind – hopefully before going for tenure (or going for the faculty job, or the postdoc job, or graduate school – or, anything!)
Because then, when you achieve one goal, you can move onto the next goal that fits into your grand plan – rather than just finding yourself having completed this big thing, and wondering, “what next?”
In my own case of assessing “what next?” and “who do I really want to be?” I’ve figured out a few things:
1. I enjoy writing – I have a whole slew of books to write, and I’ve been reenergized in getting my first book done so that I can move onto the next one. The first book is titled “The Golden Ticket in Science: Funding and Recognition Through The Power of Marketing”. Keep your eye out, or sign up for my mailing list if you want early access (that’s the big subscribe box on the upper left).
2. I enjoy helping people become better at what they do. While I used to think that I enjoyed programming computers, I’ve realized the challenge of “programming” people for success is both bigger and more rewarding for me.
That’s why I’m doing this whole blog thing (and my grant writing course http://tinyurl.com/3a8uhzq
, and future courses to yet be named). To help you be more proactive in your own life, and achieve your goals. Yeah – it sounds rah rah (like a cheerleader), but sometimes cheerleading is necessary.
Besides, I want more happy, proactive scientists out there solving the important problems in our world – and less unhappy, reactive scientists who struggle with things.
So go out and be proactive. Define who you want to be when you grow up. And then start moving towards it!