Do Your Best and Forget The Rest


Last fall, I had a crystal clear plan for myself. I had several exciting projects underway (2 that were tres novel, 1 that was low-hanging fruit), and I was going to push, push, push myself experimentally. I was going to have 3 manuscripts submitted by this June/July. I was going to have CV in awesome shape for TT applications this fall. I was going to be a WinnerTM.

But the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.

Those of you out there with more research experience than me know that good research usually requires some amount of luck. I'm not sure how much luck, exactly. I'd kind of like to know. 20% luck? 50% luck? In any case, I haven't had any. I've worked hard, I've pushed on different angles of this project, I've had a student assisting me experimentally full-time on these projects. There has been absolutely no lack of effort.

And here we are, without much of anything ready to submit. Without anything for my CV.

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For the last 4 months or so, I've been engaging in a challenging workout system called P90X. This shit is intense. It is hard, even for people who are in good shape. And it's common enough when you're doing these workouts to not have what it takes to accomplish the "move" in question. It would be easy to get discouraged when, for the 15th week in a row, I cannot do a push up and clap my hands without applying rugburn to my face. But at least in the context of my ridiculous physical maneuvers, the trainer offers a mantra, which he repeats, repeats, repeats.

Do your best, and forget the rest.

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How much relief do I feel when I hear, when I say, when I write those words?

If you do your best, you can live without regrets.

So instead of continuing to wallow in misery over my lack of accomplishments (yes, I've been wallowing), I have now decided that I need to make a concerted effort to bring that phrase to other parts of my life. I've been trying to bring it to the lab, to bring it to my office, to hold onto it and to own it when I otherwise feel like an experimental failure. Things haven't gone my way this year- it's true. But I've done my best. And if luck is just a matter of probability, my best can keep my head held up until it's finally my turn in the rotation.

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