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Staying motivated?

  1. Oct 17, 2007 #1
    How do you stay motivated to study/research at the grad level and higher?

    The problems get harder and more (non academic) things are on one's mind that weren't there during one's younger years.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2007 #2


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    To stay motivated, do original research instead of problems from a textbook.
  4. Oct 17, 2007 #3


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    I stay motivated because I am interested in my subject, and fascinated about learning new things, and advancing our knowledge, of the subject.

    What do you mean by "more things are on one's mind"? By that age, surely one should have learnt to separate one's "work" and one's personal life.
  5. Oct 17, 2007 #4


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    Actually a lot of people keeps motivated because of the second part: personal life. Or, said otherwise, bills. Bills to be paid in order to sustain your personal life. And if you can pay them with a work you know how to do, it is better. So people keep on the work they know to do: asking and solving problems. Any problem they can enjoy, ask and solve. Advancing our knowledge becomes a collective issue but not a personal motivation anymore.
  6. Oct 17, 2007 #5


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    talking to other interested people helps a lot. being at a very active place, and contributing to the action. when i was at harvard i organized a sminar on abelian vaieties and invited a fields medalist to sit in who kindly agreed. then word got out about it and what i meant to be a small seminar turned into a 40 person affair with audience from all over the state. that was very motivating. i.e. i was scared ***less that i would humiliate myself in front of them!
  7. Oct 17, 2007 #6
    I have always viewed the 'work' and personal life were one and the same as how some of the greats in the past viewed it but how sustainable is it? Also if one collapses the other goes down as well if treated this way which is a negative.
  8. Oct 17, 2007 #7
    I could never treat my work as my life, i.e. live my work. I love physics and engineering, computer science, math, etc. But I have other hobbies. I like to play bass/guitar. I like to work out. I like to play video games. Do martial arts. Hopefully go skydiving one day when I can afford it, etc.

    I'd rather be a man of the world like Einstein or Feyman than live my work like Newton or Tesla.

    Of course, they had a bit more brains... I'll have to save up some money and buy some on eBay.

  9. Oct 18, 2007 #8


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    Perhaps you should go out for a long mountain walk or run -- really clear your head a bit.

    Then when you come back to the books you'll approach them with a new freshness.
  10. Oct 18, 2007 #9
    What about competition as a motivator? Although somehow it seems not a good one for the long term?

    Money isn't good for the long term either?
  11. Oct 18, 2007 #10


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    Collaboration's a better motivator than competition.
  12. Oct 19, 2007 #11
    What happens if you don't like meeting new people or infact any kind of people?
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2007
  13. Oct 19, 2007 #12
    Perhaps you should not be going to graduate school if that is your attitude. Collaboration seems to be pretty fundamental to progress in a lot of fields. Yes, even theorists collaborate! It's not like you have to be best friends with everyone but you should at least be able to work with a group of people.
  14. Oct 19, 2007 #13


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    Collaboration is also needed, as at some stage someone's going to judge your work. It's a lot better if friends have read through it first before sending it off to a stranger.

    Not only may they spot mistakes, suggest new avanues to explore, but they'll also check that your work's readable to others -- a key skill which many (especially the apparently "brighter" students) who have just started their PhD or below don't have.
  15. Oct 19, 2007 #14
    Good point. Although maybe I shouldn't go anywhere, not just grad school with this attitude? Since working in a group seems to be the norm in the workplace.

    Is that why Perelman declined the Fields medal as he didn't want to be part of the mathematical community?
  16. Oct 19, 2007 #15


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    pivoxa, with over 2000 posts you clearly have some desire to share at least ideas with others. no?
  17. Oct 20, 2007 #16


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    As mathwonk says, you've obviously got passion.

    However, you need to share your ideas to make sure they're good -- the only way of doing this is to communicate with your peers.

    I hope you're willing to do this, if not your potential will have been wasted.

    Get out there, meet some academics. They won't judge you, so there's nothing to lose!
  18. Oct 23, 2007 #17
    Go on a trip. Just go do something else than what you have been doing from day to day. Monotony of everyday life gets everyone and everyone has to deal with it. I find if I don't take a couple of real solid breaks a semester my life starts to just feel like problem set after problem set, lecture after lecture. That is not education; a lot of incredible scientist can't work that way maybe because they are so intelligent.
  19. Oct 23, 2007 #18

    Dr Transport

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    Absolutely, I am working much more efficiently as a part of a team, I like contributing. It also helps that as part of a team, you get assignments/go-to's and you absolutely have to produce to keep everyone from getting disappointed in the progress. Meetings are some of my most creative times, the juices flow with ideas and you can run with them if the group has an interest in pursuing them.

    If you don't stay motivated in grad school, you only screw yourself out of getting out earlier.
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