I’ve also changed some of the ways I work.
Instead of cramping as many experiments as possible into one week, I’m now spreading them out more sparsely. This makes sure that I have enough time to complete each set of experiments without tangling myself in a mess.
Also, at the beginning of an experiment, rather than being too concerned about what results I will get at the end, I focus on the actual experiment itself and try to carry it out as carefully as possible. This helps me know how reliable the outcome at the end is and where things might have gone wrong.
Since making this shift, things are getting a bit brighter (at least, my cell cultures don’t act all crazy like they used to).
I still have a long way to go and I know that the challenges I’m facing now will evolve as I get further into my PhD.
Sometimes it will feel whole world is going against me, but I know I won’t be the only one who feels that way. And I can now learn from my own problems, as well as the stories I’ve heard from other students.
I also have another source of motivation, gained from the experiences I’ve had: If doing research is easy, and things are going exactly as predicted every time, then in a way you don’t get the same excitement of discovering something new. It’s the up and down, the dim and bright that makes you value your research even more.
So, to everyone who is thinking about a PhD, or preparing for a tough period in their studies: just remember I and you are in the same boat. But, as I said in my previous blog, we aren’t alone. There are people around to support us both emotionally and practically. All you need is to stay resilient, ask and help will come!