Motivation: A discontinous function of I don't know what!
Recently, one of my undergrad profs, you'd probably know him, Mr. Sudarshan Iyengar posted this on this Facebook profile http://www.nature.com/naturejobs/2011/110407/full/nj7341-127a.html. It is something worth thinking of! What is it that keeps us motivated to do what we do. I mean not just PhD students but in a very generic sense.
I am sure there are very good fat and filling books on "motivation theory", if I can call it so, in say, psychology and what not. But is the question in itself enough to motivate us on doing an extensive read on motivation theory, I am not so sure. It is sure making me write something here.
If you have not figured it out by now, this is again a timepass for me. A way I would procrastinate my work. "Let me write a blog". However, if you'd care to go back on my blog and may be if you do read regularly I have missed out on completing my series blog on nuclear energy. There is nothing in the world right now that motivates me to go back and complete it. It doesnt seem to be the need of the hour; it seems as if no one would worry about reading something on nuclear energy for reactors in Japan have reached their operating conditions. hmmm..
Coming back to motivation theory, I can't help not wondering about it. I can't help wondering if I am slacker or I am just another human being. I think, I did a lot better in my pre university days - self motivated, timely, absolute mission mode and then in undergraduate days, I did okay - doing enough to be at or above average, some arguments that "knowledge", "understanding" and "intuition" are of importance for what I do or wanted to do at the time. Something happened there isn't it? Was it lack of focus, or lost motivation, distractions? Whatever it was, I wasn't as good as I thought I was! I wasn't as good as I needed to be!
And then graduate studies seems to be a different ball game. You are busy enough to claim so to everyone; yet you are not so busy after all. When somebody asks you a sound question, you blabber. Suddenly, you are being measured by quantitative terms - number of publications, impact factor if you will. Suddenly some guys seem to be more motivated than you are. Some guys seem to rock it and you seem to be loosing the edge! Suddenly you will you have run out ideas! You seem to lack the theoretical knowledge or practical understanding of how it works! Your intuitions all seem to be self contradictory. You are done writing the same thing over and over; and over again. You are done trying, wanna restart the whole thing. You must have missed something obvious somewhere. May be you did 2+3 = 6. Oh! For God's sake!! You are supposed to be good at closed contour integration in complex variables and you cannot f***ing add 1 through 6. You need a break, a coffee may be; lets see what's up on facebook, twitter - oh nice picture there my friend. You wonder whats happening in Indian politics, oh wait President Obama has a "townhall meeting" at Facebook headquarters, live streaming. Lets see what he has to say! Hey!!! wait a min, did you just loose all the motivation, all the self-drive, the concentration that you once flaunted!
1. The imposter Phenomenon, http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/Columns/Impostor.html