Should I stay or should I go? — R Voice

Should I stay or should I go?

Shruti Turner
Shruti Turner Member Posts: 465 ✭✭✭✭✭

Whilst an iconic song, also a great question about the right time to make the decision to "stay or go" when it comes to research life and academia.

Here's the thing: I love my research field. I care so much about improving access to assistive technologies and ensuring people get the best out of them to improve quality of life. The difficult is that I have really hit that part where I realised that my work won't love me like I love it. Now the turn of the year has happened, I'm conscious that my time is running out..there's not long left of my contract.

Being a research has been my identity for the past 4.5 years or so (okay not so long in the grand scheme of things!) but when is the time to let go? I could ask around and find another post to stay a researcher in academia, but it wouldn't really be doing exactly what wanted OR I could leave and move into industry and kindle my love for my other interests. There's nothing saying I can't use those skills in the future come back to my field.

So I guess, here's my question(s) to the community: when is the right to let go? what made you stay/leave? have any of you left academia/research life only to come back again?

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Comments

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Gustavo Arluna @Andrea Hayward @Kakoli Majumder @Jayashree Rajagopalan @Vivien Kretz @Soumi Paul @Isurika Sevwandi @pedram ghafary @Mdumiseni Mazula @Hazel Monica Peralta @Tania Laghari @Karen Hall @Wei Wen Lim


    Would love to hear from all of you and anyone else with experience. Every time I come back to the platform there are so many new people I'd love to connect with!

  • Vivien Kretz
    Vivien Kretz Member Posts: 283 ✭✭✭

    Thank you for openly adressing such a difficult topic @Shruti Turner. When choosing the right career, one very simple rule always works. All jobs and career paths have disadvantages but when you do not care about the disadvantages of the opportunity that you read black on white, e.g. in an article, that is when you know it is 100 percent your path.

    When I chose media, I read about the difficult career opportunities, the competitiveness and the unusual schedules. None of these things mattered to me. I deeply did not care. I overheard everything people had to say when trying to talk me out of it. And there was a lot of backlash. That's how I knew I wanted to give it a go. ✍️

    I would say the same about staying or leaving. List the advantages and disadvantages of staying and if the disadvantages really bug you, leave. If you end up diminishing the disadvantages and talking them significantly smaller than they are, this means that you automatically focus on the advantages and do not care about the disadvantages. If this is the case, stay.

    I hope this was kinda helpful even though very broad. 😊

  • Isurika Sevwandi
    Isurika Sevwandi Member Posts: 120 ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 11

    Dear @Shruti Turner , thanks for adding me to this thread and I am an early career researcher so I do not have much to add here as I have done only little career shifts even though their effects were overwhelmingly positive as well as negative on me. Yet, I would like to suggest "Steven Bartlett Quitting Framework" in his book "Happy Sexy Millionnaire". Hope this will descriptively help you figure out your thought process behind quitting (even for a temporary basis) and rationally justify your reasoning behind it. Give it a go! Cheers!🤗

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thank you, @Vivien Kretz, for your insight. I think you've hit the nail on the head there - it's about how much the negatives really affect you. I think it's great that you found your passion and went with it! I think also sometimes, it can be difficult to know what may/may not bother you so much until you just give it a go. At least for me...

    I can definitely relate to the rationality of your thoughts, I have often thought about this when making my decisions. I think, perhaps, my brain is being susceptible to the emotion tugging and my rational arguments!! Haha

    If I may, do you still do media now? Was it everything you hoped? I'd love to hear more about your experiences.

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for joining the conversation, @Isurika Sevwandi! Like you, I am an ECR and don't have much experience. I have a lot of thoughts/questions about things like this but it never felt quite right to ask those more experienced in my department. I like this community - it feels much safer!

    Thank you for suggesting the framework - I had not heard of it and I must check it out. I have a similar approach to the one @Vivien Kretz mentioned above. I often go with the rational pros/cons so would be interested to see new ideologies on the topic.

  • Kakoli Majumder
    Kakoli Majumder Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 341 admin
    edited January 13

    Your field @Shruti Turner has a deep societal impact - your research has the power to bring back mobility to people who've lost it - improve their quality of life, enable them to stay independent and regain their confidence. You have the capability to do immense good to humans. Knowing how passionate you are about your work, I feel your quitting now would be a huge loss for your field. Personally, I hope you don't quit so soon - a bright young researcher like you has so much to give the world. ❤️

    Having said that, I think you should definitely weigh the pros and cons of both academia and industry, as @Vivien Kretz has said, and take your decision accordingly. Also, consider your innermost desires. What is it you care about most? Do you care about your work enough to be able to accept the struggles that come with it? Or will the struggles make you dread going in to work every morning and make you fall out of love with the field that you love so much now? At the same time, think of yourself 20 years from now - do you think your older self will be happy you made this decision or regret it? To answer your question, the point of letting go is different for different people. You need to figure out what that point is for you and which decision will make you happier in the long run. Hope this makes sense.😊

  • Vivien Kretz
    Vivien Kretz Member Posts: 283 ✭✭✭

    Omg, yes. I get that so much. Unless you do something and give it a go, you will never know if it actually is something for you. That's why the only way to find out is by doing it and that sometimes can be quite stressful. Please acknowledge both your feelings and rational thoughts as pros and cons. Your feelings belong on the list, too.

    I am only in my second year of media studies now and even though it is very academically challenging, I am enjoying every second of it. Of course I am not in the professional world yet but that is how I know that I made the right choice; Despite the stress and the work that I have to put in, I am still curious about learning more and evolving my skillset.

    Maybe it is also good for you to get some physical or psychological distance and look at your job from afar. :) Maybe then you can see more of the good in it?

    I wish you all the best with exploring. I am certain you will choose your heart's path.

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thank you, @Kakoli Majumder - you've really hit the nail on the head as a big reason I don't want to leave! I love the big picture of my work, but right now I'm not finding that my day-to-day work is having the impact I'd have hoped and to be honest I'm not enjoying it. I have hope that there is a way to keep my links, work with the teams who are doing this work (and even start-ups and other industry) etc. I definitely am not ready to let it all go entirely.

    You have suggested so many poignant questions for reflection. Each one deserving of true thought and time. I feel like it's such a huge decision, but I think it's less irreversible that my head is thinking. I think/hope it is possible to step away, develop new skills and then move back towards what my research area is. I just find in academia it's very difficult to find people to talk to about that (another reason I love R Voice)!

    I appreciate all you've given me to think about and your support!

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It's good to hear that it's not just me! I find it difficult to make decisions on the hypotheticals, because I think so much about all the options. I need to experience things.

    Thank you for the reminder to consider my feelings too, I am not very good at that a lot of the time. I think I've realised that I'm nearly 30 and I want to enjoy my life! I just have to figure out what that means in terms of work haha

    It was definitely good. to have that space over Christmas break. I think that's what started my reflective journey so early in the year!

    Thank you so much for the kind words and support <3

  • Vivien Kretz
    Vivien Kretz Member Posts: 283 ✭✭✭

    Well, I am a firm believer that enjoying your life can be very firmly and tightly be linked to work. I am 100% certain that you can work at something you enjoy every single day. 🪴

  • Soumi Paul
    Soumi Paul Member Posts: 204 ✭✭✭✭

    It is a serious one! And, I must say, I too come across such thoughts pretty often. It is hard to decide whether to leave or stay in academia. I would say look at it, from the point of view of your satisfaction. I am unsure if loving any passion/profession (even a person) should happen based on how much love I get in return. I even doubt how any passion/profession (even a person) could love me back the way I love it. The most important thing to me is happiness and feeling balanced in life by doing what I love. If you are not feeling balanced, think otherwise. I think it's important to know what makes you happy the most. Is it your love for accomplishing research-oriented work or fulfillment of expectations from your field?

    Communication is the key to thriving! 😊

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great thoughts, @Soumi Paul! I love your perspective. I have to say, I agree..one can love something so much without it loving you back and still it is enough. I think you've really zoomed in on the key thing there.."balance". A lot to think about that's for sure.

  • Kakoli Majumder
    Kakoli Majumder Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 341 admin

    It's really a hard decision to make, but I really admire the way you're trying to figure out a way to continue doing your work while at the same time not losing sight of your personal happiness. I think you're on the right track - I'm sure you'll find that sweet spot where you can do work that's impactful in the way you want it to be while enjoying the process that leads up to it.

  • Soumi Paul
    Soumi Paul Member Posts: 204 ✭✭✭✭

    @Shruti Turner, I am so happy to know that my perspective sounded meaningful to you. 😊 I don't know how right I am about what I said. But, I must mention that I am going through the same situation and come across this question pretty often. So this was also my reply to myself. I want to add the following lines with my previously said words.

    Being in peace with myself for long by simply doing what I love is hard. It's utterly challenging not to expect, learn not to expect. It's difficult ignoring what others are getting, and I am not because this is my love, and I chose this. In short, it's hard to love my love consistently at the same pace, ignoring others' enjoyments and all. But all of it is normal to experience. There's something to learn in it - Learn how to love my love every day. And a corner of my heart says it's worth learning.


    [I babble so much these days😛]

    Communication is the key to thriving! 😊