Why you must be proactive if you want to live your life successfully – MetaMorgan TV

by jrothaar · 2 comments

 

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!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Irina

How it will different from day-dreaming, that you will never will be able to get…
When I was 16, i new that most happy are people that know what they want, but it is most difficult thing in life… Or it is not possible to get, ever…

Reply

Morgan

@Irina – Daydreaming is how anyone gets what they want.

They dream it, then they implement it. It doesn’t work the other way around. You can’t implement what you don’t have a plan for.

I know there is a particularly negative, “scientific realism” meme that many people adopt that we are just “machines” and hence our fate is determined.

But when was the last time you saw a computer leap up off the desk and say, “I think I want to go climb Mount Everest”?

Probably never. We aren’t machines – despite the delusional thinking of many artificial intelligence proponents. (I’m not saying that there are no machines working within us – there are many machines that support our ability to remain alive – but we – our thoughts and our consciousness, is NOT a machine!)

If you don’t believe it, consider Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb.

He first had a daydream of that lightbulb.

He “knew” he could make one.

Now, some might have said, “that’s just a foolish daydream”.

But to Edison, he *knew* he could do it. He persisted for over 2 years, trying over 3,000 different filaments.

He was quoted as saying:
“Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.”

If he had thought it was just a “foolish daydream” he would have given up before the 1st attempt.

If his mind were a machine, he would have calculated the “probability of success” as being incredibly low.

But his mind wasn’t a machine, and he pursued his passion, and he revolutionized the world because of it.

Failure is just a way to figure out what doesn’t work, so that your next attempt is a better one.

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