So one of the books that I just finished reading was “Find Your Passion: 25 Questions you must ask yourself” by Henri Juttila. This is a book that I considered to fit in both the personal and professional development areas. One reason is that, trying to figure out what type of industry position that I want—I’ve been told to figure out what I’m passionate about science wise and go from there. I’ve also been told to try to go outside my comfort zone, and go for the job that I really want. The only problem with both of those suggestions, is that I’m not sure what I’m absolutely passionate about science wise, and I’m not absolutely sure what position outside of research I really want either. So I’m slowly going through different books (some have these exercises, and some don’t) to try to get a firmer grasp on what I’m passionate about (science wise) and what type of job outside of research I’d be happy in. This is a book that I highly recommend. While it is a short read, if you take the time to answer the questions as you go through it, or come back to them as I’m doing–you will probably be surprised about what you learn about yourself. So there are going to be several posts over the next few weeks that might seem slightly rambling, but they are all around a central theme: “What am I passionate about within science, and what other jobs does that relate to outside of research”.
So the first two questions of the book basically ask: “How do you define passion?” and “How will you know you’re living a passionate life?”
So how would I define passion? Well first lets look at the dictionary definition of passion: (as stated by Merriam-Webster dictionary) it is “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something”. So I would define passion as taking the dog(s) for a walk. Passion is also working on my crafts (knitting, making jewelry, practicing photography). Passion is helping someone understand a scientific issue. Passion is helping to train the next generation of scientists. Passion is cuddling with my cats. Passion is getting better at different workouts. Passion is spending time with friends and family. Passion is being outdoors. Passion is learning new things, reading a good book, trying to make the world a better place, not living on line 24/7, and making new friends (no matter how slow going that may be).
I therefore define passion as anything that has me looking forward to the day, or anything that will challenge me to try to better myself, or the world. Passion is the ability to find enjoyment in the day to day life that we lead, knowing that there is something to feel excited about at some point during the day.
Scientifically I have a strong enthusiasm for molecular biology (I’m actually probably one of the very few who enjoys doing old fashion cloning experiments), zoology/biology (I love bird watching, hiking, and being out in nature), and astronomy (I enjoy the clear night sky on vacation when I can see the stars, and I always love looking at a full moon). I enjoy doing research, and I enjoy working with students. Actually if there were decent funds for higher education—I wouldn’t mind staying as it is one way of helping to train the next generation of scientists.
A passionate life will include being in a scientific position that would help make an impact on the world (no matter how indirect), but at the same time leaving work on time to enjoy the other aspects of life: spending time with my pets, working on crafts, being outdoors, and spending time with friends and family.
A passionate life will be volunteering with different organizations to help teach and train the next generation of scientists, to help show that science isn’t bad or scary and that everyone should care. A passionate life will be explaining science in ways that everyone can understand. A passionate life will be getting to spend time outdoors exploring new places and capturing those moments on film or a memory card. A passionate life will be having my own place (even if its just a small one-bedroom condo), and working on an afghan in the middle of winter watching a movie with someone (or my pets).
So I know that currently I’m not living a fully passionate life. My current job is just that—a job, a means of making money—it isn’t something that I want to turn into a career. In order to have a passionate life, I need to start creating it, not just settling for what I currently have. A passionate life is going out and determining exactly what position outside of academia I really want and going for it. A passionate life is reaching out and helping others start making healthier choices and helping to slowly end the obesity epidemic in the United States. A passionate life is also helping to end the global hunger issue as well.