When I left academia two years ago, I did not know what my next job was going to be and how soon I would go back to work. Everything was up in the air. I went back to the drawing board and brainstormed possible jobs that would require problem-solving and/or critical thinking skills of a biochemist: research scientist, grant writer, editor, consultant?
I got my first job offer from Springer Nature in a month, but ended up taking three months off in preparation of relocating to New Jersey. This long break gave me a chance to think about how I wanted to spend my time.
So many things were overdue. Although I was not sick, I had never taken time in doing exercise. And I was financially illiterate. It had never occurred to me that income may not be available as I approach a later part of my life. How do I go from a poor Ph.D., who only took temporary positions in academia for so long, to financial independence? Is it even possible?
I started to learn how to invest from online resources, established a habit of jogging, and came to appreciate the beauty of present moments and little things, which I had failed to notice before.
My love for books also came back at the time as my job no longer required an in-depth reading of an overwhelming number of publications. That is when I ran into the Alchemist written by Paolo Coelho.
I was quite intrigued by the "beginner's luck", which favors people who strive to reach their dream. The universe conspires to help you achieve your Personal Legend. You may lose one thing at some point, but gain something else at others. You may go through utter failures only to learn something greater in preparation for finding your Personal Legend. If you keep at it, things will fall into place.
(Source of image components: Media Assets Repository System)
We all know that it is easier said than done. Why is it difficult to follow our heart? In the Alchemist, Paolo gives us a beautiful explanation for it. Our heart is afraid of sufferings that accompany our pursuit of the Personal Legend. So as we grow up, it starts to tell us less often what it wants. If we continue to listen to our heart, it will lead us to find the treasure. However, if we stop paying attention to it, we will lose our ability to read the signposts set up by the universe. And the treasure that could belong to us will be buried forever.
Let's not forget what our jobs mean to us and what we want to be remembered for, while taking care of our family and financial security. Our Personal Legend does not have to be grandiose. I have heard of a housekeeper cleaning patients' rooms at a hospital, who called himself as a healer, given that a nice environment helps patients recover faster. I see myself as a writer and life coach, who encourages a mindful living by helping lay audience appreciate science and sharing actionable ideas from it with the world. Between the fear of failures and regrets from not pursuing your Personal Legend, what would you choose? What would be your Personal Legend to pursue?
* Notes for the Kindle device:
I have been using a Kindle device for the last two years. I use it to read my favorite books during an hour commute. Not only did a Kindle device make it possible for me to read books everyday, it also allowed me to become a smart buyer.
A Kindle device is small enough to carry anywhere. It is also easy on my eyes: reading books on a Kindle device is like reading newspapers. Because sample books can be downloaded into a Kindle device free of charge, I can avoid buying books that I end up not reading after its purchase. Quite often, you can buy ebooks much cheaper than their paper version. We get to save more trees as well. I can easily look up words and archive my favorite sentences on Amazon cloud. Reading ebooks on a Kindle device turned out to be a great investment for my personal growth.
Just to be clear, the links to Amazon items shown on this website are just for your information only. I used to have an Amazon associate account, but Amazon closed it because there was no sale that originated from this website. I'm keeping the links so that you can save time in searching for these items.