We all know scientific research is tough and can be extremely frustrating at times…well, most of the time. Due to all of the inherent adversity, it can be difficult to remain passionate about your work. But it’s important to keep your passion alive to be successful, especially if you are a young scientist trying to establish your career.
If you became a scientist because you love science then remind yourself of that. When you feel lost or feel your enthusiasm for science waning, ask yourself, “Why did I get into science? Who did I want to become?” Did you want to help people by finding cures for diseases? Did you want to become a world-renowned expert in your field? You still have plenty of time to make your dreams come true, but you have to keep that passion in order to do so.
If you’re not happy with your current situation, focus on the future. Graduate school can put a damper on anyone’s enthusiasm at times. But once you have a Ph.D., many doors open for you. Your opportunities are out there—you just need to take advantage of them.
If you don’t feel passionate about your current career path, then change it. Go after something that excites you. Something that gets you out of bed in the morning and keeps you from wanting to go home at night. That’s the difference between having a career versus just a job. When you’re passionate about something, your job feels less like work. As a result, you’re likely to do your job better as it will be easier to get things accomplished.
If you feel like you have lost your passion for research and there’s absolutely no way you’ll ever get it back, then I suggest you pursue a career outside of research. There are plenty of science-related jobs away from the bench: policy, consulting, education, sales, public health, and business management to name a few. These alternative careers can offer you a fresh start and new outlook on science. Find something that you enjoy. This may help you reignite your passion or find a new one.
One of the reasons people lose their enthusiasm for research is by being around negative people. There are many negative people in research, and understandably so. They may have become jaded by grad school, a bad experience, or a job they dislike. Negative people often want to commiserate with you and complain about their situation. We all need to vent sometimes, but many of these people will always be negative, regardless of their situation—it’s just their personality. Don’t let them bring you down and cause you to lose your passion. Stay optimistic and focused on your goals.
So just remember, pursue your passion, stay positive, and you’re likely to have a successful career in science.