What do you need to be the best scientist you can be?
Why is striking a reasonable work-life balance important?
How can a demanding career still be personally fulfilling?
How do you stay motivated when experiments aren't working?
For most of us, these questions are never really addressed in our scientific training, yet they are central to both our ability to do outstanding science from day to day and our motivation for continuing to remain in science. One of the overarching goals of Thriving in Science is to provide scientists-in-training with an opportunity to answer these questions for themselves and define "success" in research in their own terms.
The forum will engage scientists in data-driven conversations that shed light on widely accepted—albeit sometimes unpopular—facts, including:
- Scientists who are anxious, sad, unhappy, or depressed are not doing their best work.
- Though these feelings are inherently unrelated to our science, they can have a dramatic impact on our ability to develop those qualities that often define successful scientists: motivation, creativity, and a high tolerance for failure.
- Routinely reinforcing the positive aspects of your life will improve your state of mind.
- Practicing positive interventions (e.g., listing one to three things every day that you are grateful for—professionally or otherwise, making a point of being altruistic through volunteer work, etc.) can condition you to think positively and help you be more resilient when you encounter challenges.
- Professionals who have creative interests outside of their workplace tend to be more motivated in their jobs.
- Creativity is essential to doing cutting edge science. Honing your creativity outside of the lab can not only help prevent burnout, but may also allow you to bring a new perspective to your research that ultimately pushes your field forward.
- Giving yourself credit for your strengths as an individual can fight feelings of being an "imposter".
- Many in academia convince themselves that they aren't as talented, intelligent, or successful as their colleagues. These feelings are normal, but they are not constructive or helpful to your life or career: recognize that you are a unique individual with your own strengths. Focusing on refining your strengths can make it easier to then improve your weaknesses.
- Defining "success" in your own terms will help you maintain perspective and remain grounded.
- Trying to meet the arbitrary expectations of others is difficult; sometimes it's not even possible. Taking time to ask yourself what "success" looks like to you—and laying out achievable goals to get there—can alleviate anxiety and give you the confidence to pursue career paths that are personally fulfilling.
- Participation in peer support groups is strongly correlated with professional success.
- Your colleagues are often those in the best position to give you constructive feedback, helpful advice, and guidance about how to navigate professional challenges.