Monday, 7th May 2012

Motivation and a mission


The church would have you believe that Sunday is the God given day of rest, whilst the business world would tell you that it was rather the Bank Holidays that were sacrosanct. Well today I tell you that for me that today is that day of rest. Which after a 7 day stint I feel is not necessitated but somewhat required if I am to be of any cognitive use in the following week.

The reason for which is that my working week has been somewhere over 70 hours and unusually I do not resent it but rather am relishing in it. For yesterday, for the first time in my life I felt like not only was I achieving but I was world leading in something, doing something that had never been done before.

Admittedly given my usual line of research one could argue that most days are full of things that have never been done before, for without that then research isn't really research in the sense of the pursuit of cutting edge knowledge but simply the treading over old ground. And that argument holds weight, but the truth of research is that you often end up following the same routines on a day to day level with only a few minor tweaks here and there. The methodical tortoise rules supreme against the erratic hare, but the show-man does not breathe results you can home with.

Yesterday then, I was running a machine that I have spent almost all week putting together, testing and configuring. One that new, would cost the same as an aspirational home. Of which I know of only 3 in Europe. And one in which currently I am the only person capable of running.

In amongst all the noise of whirring fans, compressors and pumps, and the mental strain of juggling sample information, temperatures, voltages, currents and resonances there was an odd moment of clarity that I was truly doing something that very few others in the world could. Making me, some sort of…expert. Albeit an expert in a very specialised field.

Motivation is a exceptional beast. When rushed off of your feet and working almost every hour that your body will physically allow and the data is rushing in so fast such that you have no chance to analyse and make sense of it all before more data has come in and is beating you about the head for attention. Well then motivation is easy to find. Motivation is so aplenty that you dont even realise that you are bathed in it. And you find yourself walking into work only to look at your watch through dehydration demanding it's coffee time to realise that 6 hours have past. A quick coffee is snatched before you think “I'll just finish this bit” and then it's dark outside.

Yet on the other hand, when after a week has all but dragged it's heels by and you're sat down on Thursday morning thinking that you really should do something productive this week; then motivation is no where to found. Let alone even seen on the horizon.

Recently, I was facing the situation where I wanted to conduct a vast amount of time intensive experiments whilst knowing at the back of my mind that 28th August will be my final pay cheque. Leaving me at which point to try and find a way to live, eat and work with the potential of no income. A situation that was making me antsy when the lab refurbishment seemed to be dragging out for weeks longer than initially speculated. Especially when I had no real idea of how long my experiments would take, But this week has given me hope. Not just hope that I'll finish, and drag my sorry ass across the line, but hope that I can finish with style and flare.

Believe me, I'm not going to say it's going to be easy. Because it's not. And if you see me in the coming weeks and I look like I havent slept in a few days, it'll be because I haven't. Through long hours at work or the inability to switch off when I'm not at work.

But through this blog and maybe with taking a guitar into the office I can maintain my sanity long enough to finally shed the title of student. Get a proper grown-up job. And start paying taxes on everything I earn.

Wish me luck. I'll keep you posted.

About Morgan Bye

Scientist, programmer and all around techie