Earlier this week, I’ve listened to the last episode of the NPR Hidden Brain podcast: How Silicon Valley Can Help You Get Unstuck (Thanks Ian, for the suggestion!). It is a really good one, and you should listen when you have some time. I could totally relate to the first story of the podcast, about a young woman that suddenly realized she wasn’t the person she wanted to be. I believe this have happened to me recently, after the SFN meeting, and I wrote about it here. As the woman from the podcast, I still don’t know exactly what I want to be, but I’m sure that the ideal version of me is out there, and I just have to find her.
Everybody feels stuck at some point. And most of the time, people don’t really know where they want to go, to begin with. People complain that they don’t know what to do with their lives, and they want to find the right pathway (that is already there, and we just need to find it). What people usually don’t realize is that there’s not only one right destination, there are many. In the podcast, Dave Evans, a former product designer from Apple describe design thinking. According to Google, design thinking “refers to creative strategies designers utilize during the process of designing”. However, this can be applied to our lives as well. There isn’t just one life, or one career, for any of us. So what we need to do is create several prototypes – create three completely different variations of your life, try some different things, and finally choose the one you WANT to be.
I see many people posting their New Year’s resolutions for 2017. I never do that. I don’t really believe that a new year will begin and I can magically turn into a new person. I am more of a person that suddenly decides things need to change, and just do it. It may take a long time to get to that point, but it doesn’t have to come with a new year, or a Monday. For example, it took me years to decide to quit smoking, and I finally did it on December 26th, 2013. Four days before the new year, and on a Friday! Anyways, I decided to try this prototype design of my life, and here are my three possible pathways for me:
- Continue working in Biotech Sales: Let’s be fair. I am far from unhappy with my work. After one year and a half, I feel much more comfortable doing it. I’ve become better at dealing with my customers and I’m already making more money that I was doing as a postdoc. I like the idea of doing a job that is based on creating relationships. As an extreme social person, I love being the hub connecting all teams from my company to the customer. But working home by myself is still a challenge. I wished I could travel to do more visits. Maybe I can try to work on that. Also, I’d like to move into a more administrative position, where I could manage promotions and strategies specifically to the academic environment. I know how both worlds work and I fell I could help make them interact better.
- Science Outreach: In the last months, I’ve been spending more and more time doing side projects on the internet. Running our #DiversityJC and #RecoveringAcademic podcast is very exciting, but also, very time-consuming. But I do it, simply because I love doing them. I love the idea to advocate, to help. I also love Science very much. My ideal Science Outreach job would be one where I would need to deal with lots of people, organize events, travel to many conferences, and advocate for Science. Is there a job like that? I am not sure, need to do some research about it.
- Come back to academia: About six months ago, my former PI approached me asking for help to write a new R21 grant. As a mathematician, he wanted the view of a neuroscientist on it. We did it, and we are waiting for the review. It took much longer that I thought it would, but it felt good to read neuroscience articles and think! Coming back to academia as a full time researcher is not my ideal plan, but I miss the Science aspect of it, the scientific thinking. I believe if I could do it as a side project, either with option number 1 or 2, I’d take it.
Actually it turns out it was tough to choose only three pathways! I’ve thought about many, many more. My favorite one so far is option number 2. But still very vague. Maybe I need to turn it into three different sub-options? I may do that in a later post, stay tuned!