Life Coach Magazine

Rejuvenation Tips for Young "tenured" Professionals

By Aqualed @aqua_led (will upload my own pic soon)

Tips de rejuvenecimiento para profesionales de planta.
Motivation is key for each of us at every stage of our life. Motivation is what keep us searching for more; it is what move us towards our goals; but overall, it is what keep us young and alive. The motivation does not necessarily pursue satisfying our immediate needs: it is sustained by a major objective. Navigare necesse est, vivere non necesse (1) (Pompey, 56 BC), which after few modifications/add ons, I would translate as "No need for exploring, means no need for living".
Naturally, throughout our lives the motivation follows non-constant trends. Both academically and professionally, our motivation is very high when we face challenges ahead; e.g., when we struggle for entering the desired school, or when we prepare ourselves for getting that dreamed position. Later on, our motivation is likely to recede when the challenge is no longer so, or when our expectations were not reached at the exact moment we had been expecting. What are the options then? Either to fall asleep, to accept the fate, or to get up, look for another challenge and remember ourselves that we are alive. An interesting article written by Elisabeth Pain (2), featured in the prestigious Science Magazine, shows the opinion of several experts who give some interesting tips on how to keep our soul up, at those moments when our life tends to stagnate as a result of our tenured position.
The key question is: What to do when we recognize that the thing (research, job)  you previously lived for does not excite you anymore?Understanding that cheering up your life depends only on yourself, let´s begin with the simplest, worldwide known tip:
1) Avoiding the routine.
It is the simplest, yet challenging, option. For some, the routine is a relevant enemy of the individuals enjoying the comfort given by the industrialized world. But the routine also hits the developing world, and becomes its principal enemy against the dreamed economical growth.
  • The tough path: Switch fields. Although it can occur, few fields can keep up growing constantly. Switching fields is likely to provide a different perspective on our area of specialization. Eventually, this would provide you the incentive you were looking for, or in the "worst case", it would lead you to a new and exciting journey. 
  • The alternative: Find your own. A wise advice given by from Prof. Makoto Okumura came to me when I realized that switching fields is not always an option. Prof. Okumura, from the Regional Planning and Applications Department at Tohoku U, simply told us: You will usually have one field that you may not feel passionate about, that is part of your job, and that you have to accomplish, either you like it or not. But there will always be the chance to introduce there that small thing that interests you. Then you will make the difference. A simple, wise, and practical advice.
2) Getting involved into simultaneous projects.
Burk Dehority, a former still active faculty of Ohio University, and a 1997 report written by Carole Bland and William Bergquist, coincide that keeping the impulse is vital, however according to Pain´s article, they apparently differ slightly on the ultimate objective of keeping such impulse. The two latter, take the multitask strategy as a anti-disillusionment measure, i.e., if one project fails, you will still have a backup. Whereas, Dehority puts more emphasis on the excitement of the new field (within the same general framework) brought by every shift.
In addition, some other ways to keep the impulse suggested by Dehority are (2):
  • Collaborations: Give and get ideas.
  • Keeping knowledge and skills up to date: This is only the consequence of keeping your motivation high.
3) Traveling.
Dehority as well as several scientist coincide that this is a very productive way to impulse your life. It is in close relation with the former and it definitely is my favorite. From my perspective, there is no better learning than that obtained from individuals who have learned to adapt to the different environments of our diverse world.
Of course, any change would involve risks: resistance from faculties who do not wish to get involved into any change, not getting external funding (2), but please ask yourself...aren´t those also likely to occur if you decide to settle down?
(1) Quotation from Plutarch, "Life of Pompey, 50"; in The Fall of the Roman Republic, Six Lives,  Plutarch (translated by Rex Warner 1958, Guild Publishing/Penguin Books, 1992). Also available at Project Gutenberg 
(2) Elisabeth Pain (2009), "Rejuvenation tips for tenured faculties". Science careers.  10.1126/science.caredit.a0900081.

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