One of the most noteworthy attributes of the scientific mind is endless curiosity. The world is a vast network of questions. One question seeps into another. Each answer reveals further questions. There is so much to do, experience, and discover. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in the day. For each path chosen, each question answered, each activity mastered there are countless others that had to be overlooked. Choosing where to invest your time and energy is one of the most important decisions that you will ever make.
The first and most important step is to choose to choose: don’t try to do everything. Specialize, commit, and become a true expert in one or two fields that fascinate you. This isn’t to say you need to abandon hobbies or stop trying new things. Keep your hobbies, keep exploring, and keep growing. Just strive to keep your passions alive for years, not semesters.
The first step to knowing which opportunities are right for you is identifying your long-term goals and passions.
You don’t need to know at age fifteen or twenty exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life, but you should have an idea of where your passions lie. Make a list. Create categories of interest. Brainstorm your favorite subcategories. Hone in on the topics you could spend a lifetime exploring. Aside from one or two hobbies, limit your commitments to these areas. You can start out with a number of small commitments, but the end goal is to be fully immersed in only one or two.
You will naturally see some flourish while others lose their vigor. Allow this to happen, dropping those that don’t make the cut. If something amazing pops up and it fits into your goals and passions, make space, but be discerning. Not every opportunity, no matter how interesting or prestigious, is the right opportunity for you.
Hopefully, by the time you finish high school or college one or two activities will have become real passions where you were able to develop a leadership role. One long-term leadership role in a field you love is worth significantly more than twenty or thirty flirtatious encounters with different roles and subject areas. When in doubt, take a deep breath, remember your passions and goals, and let them lead you.
This piece comes to us from one of our talented content contributors, Erin Wildermuth. Her bio is below and if you would like to work with us you can email us here!
Erin Wildermuth is a communications professional turned scientist. She enjoys scuba diving, problem solving, and reading science fiction.