ANN ARBOR, MI –
Even after three years of working in the same lab, I still encounter new challenges. Whether it be learning a new experiment or analyzing puzzling results or earning increased autonomy, there will always be new challenges to meet as a researcher. And I like that, because a job without challenges is boring (to me – you do you).
Sometimes, though, I find that I make mistakes on experiments I should know how to do; things that “should not be” challenging. In my opinion, these are the most frustrating mistakes, because they are unexpected, yet consequential.
I cope with these mistakes by practicing mindfulness. Often, the tasks we deem easiest are those we are most likely to perform absent-mindedly. And that’s the real danger: underestimating tasks that “should be” easy. Challenges are important, but sometimes, the most challenging tasks are the ones we do every day. By learning to focus on even the most mundane tasks, I was able to minimize these mistakes that were due to my own lack of focus, rather than negligence or ignorance.
“Simple” mistakes are often embarrassing to admit to having committed, but owning up to these mistakes is how we begin to promise to improve. There is no shame in making mistakes, as long as you continually – however gradually – strive to improve. And that requires patience, because while we never stop making mistakes, we also never stop improving.
Thank you for reading.