It’s been a while.
Settling in to a new job has been terrifying and tiring in equal measure. The seemingly boundless spending of the early weeks has been replaced by an awfully adult awareness that the only thing you can’t buy is time: more time in my day to prepare for contact with students, to write grant applications, to read journal articles, to blog (yes, this is something I feel I ‘should’ be doing) but most of all, to think.
Whilst I find it very easy to develop my thoughts on how the Comprehensive Spending Review affected me (not much, yet), whether I support the student protest movement against tuition fees (I do, wholeheartedly), and why QPR saw fit to lose on national television in the only fixture I’ve seen them play this season (regression to the mean), I’m struggling to come up with original ideas for experiments that will be an instant imaging hit. I’m in the profession of thinking, so it’s certainly no good thing that I’m running dry, but it’s also rather inevitable.
For the past three years I’ve been thinking about work that isn’t actually my own. I have deferred my own ideas about projects to those of my PI and we have primarily pursued paths that he has wanted to pursue. This was great for showing me the ropes, and showing me how to think about fMRI within Psychology, something I have been employed to further here in St. Andrews, but it has also lead to this rather awkward moment of transition. I now have to build up my own head of steam, run my own behavioural pilots and read other people’s’ articles with my own research agenda in mind. Of course, I was doing this when in St Louis, but my livelihood didn’t depend on it. Now it does.
So, I’m ploughing on with behavioural projects and hoping that forcing myself to think will lead to better thinking (after all, your brain is a muscle isn’t it? gah!). I’m also considering a couple of more contrived mind-hacks to nudge the process along:
1) Read journal articles at a minimum rate of 1/weekday.
2) Design an experiment I could run at a minimum rate of 1/week.
3) Blog at a minimum rate of 1/week.
I’m not sure if I’ll follow through on these, or whether they’ll be any help if I do, but I’m going to try. I can’t afford to stay barren for too long.