The most valuable assets we have are time and energy. You must make conscious decisions on what to spend your time and energy on. The earlier you realize this in life, and in your career, the better, because it will be less time and energy wasted.
In academia, and in many aspects of life, it is so easy to find yourself in a field, a job, or a situation that is just a bad fit for you. You might not even realize it, but here are few signs you are in this situation:
1) You feel like whether you do it or not it will make no significant difference. Your work has no impact.
2) You wake up and you don’t want to do it. You are not excited about work.
3) You feel like you are lost in a sea of knowledge and people, and you have no idea how to navigate. You are not motivated to navigate.
4) You hear about the most recent progress, conference, hot topic, and you don’t care. Your brain can be used somewhere else, not here, not in this field.
5) Or you do care, but you can’t contribute in a significant way, you don’t know enough to contribute and you are not motivated to learn.
6) Your soul is still searching, you were made for something else.
So what to do if this is you?
Do not despair, and realize that the problem is not as big as you think, not as deep as the sea of knowledge you don’t want to dive in, or as big as the people you might be trying to impress. The problem is simple:
You are not in your element.
This field, job, career, or situation is not your element and it will never be. You might have learned a lot from it, but you will never be happy in it, you will never accomplish what you were truly capable of while you’re doing it.
So what do you do?
Stop. Do not invest in this field anymore. Do not spend time on it. Look for something else. If your soul is still searching it means it is still out there and you will find it. You will gravitate towards it.
If the field you are attracted to is very new to you, seems like another sea of knowledge and a new set of people in an unfamiliar community, you have no idea where or how to start, you are nobody, you are less than a beginner, and you have to begin from scratch all over again, do not despair.
Divert your time and energy into this field, because this is what resonates with you, attracts you, excites you, and stimulates your natural curiosity.
You will learn and you will slowly stop being a nobody beginner. It’s because now you’re in your element, and spending time in your element nourishes and energizes you instead of depleting you. You will grow and thrive. Time will not be wasted and energy will be supplied.
Life is one big optimization problem. The optimal solution supplies happiness, safety, love, prosperity, excitement, comfort, adventure, and a sense of significance, contribution and accomplishment. Investing all your valuable time in your element carries you smoothly towards the optimal. The inevitable bumps in the road won’t be insurmountable, because your element supplies all the energy you need to jump over barriers, and more.