What drives you in life?

hiker in Norway

With the end of the PhD studies coming closer I believe it’s a natural step to start asking yourself, what you want to do with the rest of your life. I certainly realized that, in order to find a job that truly excites me and with all the supposed opportunities awaiting talented women scientists, I had to first determine my passion and purpose.

What is purpose?

– I asked myself. Is it wanting to save the world? Sure, I recycle my waste, don’t drive a car and work to develop new concepts for drug delivery, but are all my decisions informed by a deep rooting desire to save the planet and its inhabitants. To be honest, not all.

Then it happened last week that I stumbled upon a video one of my contacts had liked on LinkedIn. It was about a comedian bestowing his 9 life lessons upon a group of (university?) graduates. And while I watched it something clicked with me. You can watch the video in the end of the post.

Define yourself by what you love

There it was! Define yourself by what you love, the guy explained. Define yourself by the thing that you are truly passionate about. That consumes most of your thoughts, most days… And then it hit me! I LOVE to learn and to improve myself. This may not come as a surprise to some, considering that I’m a scientist and it is my job to be curious and learn new things. But to me it was a revelation! Since it was so obvious, I had never realized that loving to learn was a passion in itself.

When I think back, this urge and desire to acquire new skills has always been present in me. For example, I took an additional course in highschool, because I couldn’t decide, whether to continue with physics or latin, and hence I did both. I frequently seized opportunities while working at the University of Helsinki to educate myself in management, rhetorics and Finnish language through their staff training programs. And I often use my free time to learn new hobbies, such as knitting, crafting my website, or challenging myself in new ways with different sports (right now I like to boulder and do yoga, alongside my longtime favorite: karate).

My most important requirement for any job, I’m going to consider, will thus be: Is the task challenging and can I learn something new? When transitioning from academia to industry, the answer will certainly be YES! I imagine, there are so many new things to discover, such as working with customers, being confronted with stricter regulations, working in and managing teams, and maybe a thing or two about marketing. This is exactly the reason, why I’m so excited to making this change. And I’m experiencing the job search as a huge opportunity to learn and develop.

Be a teacher

Finally, the guy in the video advises his audience to not take their education for granted, but to share their knowledge and to be teachers. And since I had just started my blog and experienced the typical insecurity, whether anybody would care about my writing, it encouraged me to keep going. Because wouldn’t this be a great purpose for a passionate learner, to pass on the things I’ve learned? I hope I can transfer some of my enthusiasm and drive for self-improvement to my readers and share with you some of my knowledge concerning the very narrow research field, I happen to be a specialist in. In this regard please excuse me, if some of my posts will be too scientific or too simple. I’m still trying to find my voice (and my audience).

If this post made you think about your passion and purpose in life, I’d love to hear about your thoughts in the comments below! You can also subscribe to my posts via email.

Till next time!

PS: as promised, here’s the video!

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Video-Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1feN26SatE

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2 years ago

Thank you for sharing, I’m really digging the blog!

I’ve spent more time pondering where my life is headed than I’d like to admit. Career choices, the impact I want to have on the world, all that stuff. Ever since I started the 1st grade, I remember people asking me what I wanted to do when I grow up; I never had the answer. I didn’t really mind as I still had all those years to figure it out, yet at almost 30, I still don’t know. It’s because of this I really enjoyed your blog post and the video. Perhaps I’m just looking too hard and the key is to embrace the things that I’ve always loved and let those things help me choose a path.