One insightful message that emerged from the recent TorchTalks seminar was that achieving success in your career and your life becomes easier if you find what you are passionate about, and play to your strengths.
But how easy is it to find your passion? I, for instance, am passionate about many things: reading books, experimental biophysics, neuroscience, volunteering, writing fun stuff, my playlists and much more. And it drives me crazy deciding on one passion to follow…
Finding your passion is about identifying what you have been doing well most of your life, what you love doing most of the time, and what you would like to be doing for the rest of life ahead.
It requires a lot of introspecting, looking back at your life to see the things you did that made you happy (and also the things you hated doing, so that you can cross those off your list!), the things that you worked hard towards being the best at (so you know what your strengths are) and the success that you dream about for yourself (it is vital to envision yourself at your zenith every single step of the way).
Given the information overload we face today, and how being online all the time gives us a chance to explore many different things all at once, such self-examination might not always give you an easy answer. Very often, as a young, ambitious and driven person, it is easy to think you can take on all these challenges and help change the world.
So is it impossible to converge all your strongest interests into a single, driven pursuit of success?
Not really. If you want to follow your interests and create a career out of it, the first step is to show you can make a difference with it.
If you like to read books, then use that to expand your horizons and perhaps start sharing your ideas. A career could begin with writing a review on something as simple as revisiting an old classic or critiquing the latest best-seller. If you like playing a sport, volunteering as a coach or a trainer for young children could be an excellent way to channel your enthusiasm and productively engage with young people.
As a scientist, you realize that no field in biology is studied in isolation and it is more than likely that you like to read about oncology, neuroscience and cell biology all at the same time. Uniting such multiple interests in science could prove really useful in building new networks with people outside your field of research and even lead to great new collaborative ideas.
Again, as a scientist, you develop strengths and skills that you may not even be aware of. Perhaps you are much better than your peers at explaining your lab research to new people, or perhaps you are amazing at creating codes to analyze and model data faster, or perhaps you are great at coming up with new experimental designs. Picking up on these skills as a student could go a long way in helping you figure out all the different careers that are open to you.
Exciting as it is to dream about making a thriving profession out of doing things you love to do, remember that success is also a lot about working hard at it: by being patient, persistent and pro-active in following your passion, you will prevail in pursuing your goals with pride and pleasure!
Megha Kishore is the Science Communicator for MindTorch. A biophysicist by training, she enjoys reading and writing about pioneering scientific research. Tweet her @kishoremegha and @MindTorch.
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