Get What You Want with Just a Few Questions
It’s easy to lose track of what you want when the day-to-day of work and life gets in the way. Adopting a holistic approach can help you remain in touch with the professional and personal outcomes you desire, and mute the distractions bogging you down.
First ask yourself:
- Who am I?
- What am I doing?
- What is the best work-life balance for me?
Then flesh out your goals:
- Life goals. Do you want a partner and/or family? What do you enjoy? How do you want to realize your potential and make contributions to society?
- Career goals. Which career path in neuroscience do you want to take? Do you want to take the traditional route of academic research, or the non-traditional route, including academic administration, pharmaceutical research, science writing, and more?
- Research goals: What do you want to focus on to improve the mental capital and wellbeing of society?
By regularly checking in with yourself, you can see if your goals are still the same or if they’ve shifted, and what you need to do to achieve them.
One of the most rewarding aspects of my own career has been to be involved in the training of future generations of neuroscientists. Here are tips from some previous members of my laboratory:
“You don’t have to be successful by always outperforming others. An alternative way to be successful is to be a great collaborator. This may be more enjoyable in the long run.” – Jenny Barnett, Cambridge Cognition Ltd.
“Never sacrifice what you want, but ‘what you want’ may change, and that’s all right. Don’t close your eyes so tight that you’re blind to a shift in focus.” – Jamie Nicole LaBuzetta, Harvard University
“Be clear on how your compromises work and don’t judge yourself by anyone else’s work-life balance.” – Rebecca Elliott, University of Manchester
“If you see your free time as the time you get to ‘live your life’ then you’ll never be happy in science.” – Elise DeVito, Yale University
“Determine your own priorities in the context of your own life and self. When things get tough, this can help you to stay centered.” – Sharon Morein-Zamir, University of Cambridge
“Have confidence in the interest and relevance of your own research.” – Jonathan Roiser, University College London
What questions do you ask yourself or actions do you take to meet your goals? Share what’s worked for you in the comments.
Adapted from the presentation, “Women in Neuroscience: A Holistic Approach to Career Development,” by Barbara Sahakian, PhD.