How do you keep yourself motivated?

  • Thread starter EngWiPy
  • Start date
  • #26
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,908
2,208
I believe there are many people here doing research on different fields. Research most of the time is very tedious stressful and frustrating. How do you keep yourself motivated to work hard until you get some satisfactory results? and are you willing to sacrifice your mental/physical health to get some results no matter what or at some point you would change your attitude?
Read Richard Feynman's, "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out"
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0465023959/?tag=pfamazon01-20&tag=pfamazon01-20

Actually, having hobbies and outside things that you do can help. While I was working on my Ph.D., I took up the study of formal logic as a hobby. I would work a while, study a while and come back refreshed. Doing things that are healthy also helps. Sitting around for hours, your head gets foggy. I had an adviser once out at one of the national labs who would get up and walk around the lab complex at least twice a day. I started doing it too; when I would get back my head was always clearer. Concentrating on one thing to the exclusion of all else leads to burnout. At least it would for me. And I am not known as lacking focus, for sure!
This would work. I do a walk sometime during lunchtime, mostly with a colleague, and try to ride my bicycle to work.

While I was doing my PhD, and I was working on something and stuck, I couldn't think of anything else. That is why I had such a hard times in my PhD, especially I am not that outgoing type of person. So, I would dwell on the problem day and night. I also have a problem in focusing (unlike you) due to suspecting ADHD. Now things are more relaxing since if you don't get something done, I don't lose anything, and thus I don't have the kind of stress I had during my PhD. But still doing research is a huge part of my life and it is boring most of the time, except when you have a glimpse of optimistic results, which will energize me for a while and then fade away, which is usually quick.
One might have Asperger's and/or ADHD. ADD/ADHD runs in my family. I didn't let it interfere with my learning, although it was difficult to do lessons or focus on things in which I was not interested.

For me research is a matter of "finding things out" and I do find it enjoyable or pleasurable, especially when it involves obscure bits on information or knowledge, or things forgotten.
 
  • Like
Likes EngWiPy
  • #27
1,367
61
Read Richard Feynman's, "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out"
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0465023959/?tag=pfamazon01-20&tag=pfamazon01-20

This would work. I do a walk sometime during lunchtime, mostly with a colleague, and try to ride my bicycle to work.

One might have Asperger's and/or ADHD. ADD/ADHD runs in my family. I didn't let it interfere with my learning, although it was difficult to do lessons or focus on things in which I was not interested.

For me research is a matter of "finding things out" and I do find it enjoyable or pleasurable, especially when it involves obscure bits on information or knowledge, or things forgotten.
Thanks for your input and the reading suggestion.
 
  • #28
1,188
512
Most really successful researchers have more than one project on the go. That allows them to switch gears. If one project doesn't work out there are others. If one gets too boring, the day can be broken up by moving on to something else.
Yeah, I want to comment on that. I've got several friends in the field that are prolific writers, and to write and publish several articles each quarter, I'd imagine you'd have to be working on several articles simultaneously. Personally, though, I tried doing that and failed miserably. I guess I'm too obsessive-compulsive to multi-task in that respect. I get my claws and jaws into a topic and I have to see it through. Damn the torpedoes and damn any other distractions. I think this goes back to my earlier post about having to be 100% committed to do any real significant work. But I might be wrong.

Incidentally, who I had in mind specifically in the previous paragraph was Walter Freeman (Jr., not the lobotomist). He is my idol and I think he's published on the order of about 400 articles in scholarly journals. However, I've been quoted as saying (I think by the local bartender), that all he really did was publish the SAME paper 300 times. This was 10 years ago when he had only published 300 papers. But they really all are pretty much the same, arguing for a chaotic/complexity based approach to understanding cognitive neurodynamics. The point, though, is, that even though these 300 papers were almost identical, each one of them was distinctively fascinating in their own way. This is an example of a genius hitting on a big concept and hitting that core concept from a thousand different angles and publishing in every mom and pop crop up journal that came by the wayside. And most of this he did after tenure and he wasn't really constrained to do.
 
  • #29
Choppy
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
4,600
1,699
Yeah, I want to comment on that. I've got several friends in the field that are prolific writers, and to write and publish several articles each quarter, I'd imagine you'd have to be working on several articles simultaneously. Personally, though, I tried doing that and failed miserably. I guess I'm too obsessive-compulsive to multi-task in that respect. I get my claws and jaws into a topic and I have to see it through. Damn the torpedoes and damn any other distractions. I think this goes back to my earlier post about having to be 100% committed to do any real significant work. But I might be wrong.
Everyone has their own way of doing things. And I can certainly understand being intensely focussed on a particular project. There are times when focus really helps drive a project forward. But there are other times when it's counter-productive. For example, once you've written up a paper and submitted it to a journal, there's a period where it's out for review and you really don't have anything else to work on. Sitting and checking the journal's website every five minutes obsessively isn't healthy, so you move on to the next project. You come back to the submitted one once the reviews come back.
 
  • #30
Stephen Tashi
Science Advisor
7,407
1,380
To tackle the problem of motivation, I think we must be honest about what aspects of life motivate us and such honesty is often unflattering. It can reveal that we have many "childish" reactions. As a completely hypothetical example, suppose you go to a scientific conference on topic X and some expert on that topic makes the casual remark "Your hair looks really wierd today". You might find your motivation for studying topic X is decreased. Even though the remark has nothing to do with topic X, it creates an association of topic X with something unpleasant.

I think practical study of motivation requires analysis of mundane human reactions. For example, this is a good talk on the topic of overcoming aversions:
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes EngWiPy

Related Threads on How do you keep yourself motivated?

Replies
8
Views
803
  • Last Post
Replies
8
Views
5K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
29
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
14K
Replies
32
Views
30K
  • Poll
  • Last Post
2
Replies
43
Views
12K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
37
Views
6K
  • Last Post
Replies
18
Views
5K
Replies
1
Views
2K
Top