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Have you ever felt like you cannot live up to the career you've chosen? For example, I am a professor at a university, but I can't do research very well... and I've had one published paper in 5 years. Isn't that suppose to tell me something?!?!? Am I just denying something? Avoiding the obviuous? Well... its been hurting my relationship with my fiance because I've been worried so much about my losing my job next year (I am up for tenure and renewal of my contract next year)? I worry about it constantly... and I have neglected our relationship and her needs because of it. Even as I'm typing this now, I am at work?


Any suggestions?

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I think it might be a common fear. I have been in my chosen profession for 10 years and still have cold sweats some times that I am a fraud. Oddly I get very good bonuses and kept near the top of my reviews...


I really think it might just be a fear that some people, especially perfectionist, have

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This is a good question. I am also a professor at a University. I started 2 months ago.


I had a very bad experience while getting my degree. I had a bad mentor. The thresholds for quality of the work of others on the project I was working on kept changing (being lowered). This resulted in bad work being done overall and work that was of no use to me, even though it was supposed to be a collaborative effort. I received no benefit at all, but spent many, many hours on the work. In fact, my work was the only stuff to be published. But a lot more could have if there had been good mentoring. My mentor didn't care.


This experience affected me quite a bit. I let it affect me is a more appropriate way to say it. I had a picture of how things were supposed to be, and when that did not happen it really got under my skin. I simply could not deal with it appropriately. I became very stressed and anxious and this affected all aspects of my life.


I realize now that the reason I pursued the degree was so I could have options. Ironically, when one of those future career options was almost closed off to me (research based academia) I could not deal with it. I gave myself no options while getting the degree.


I know now that I can never do this to myself again. Its not worth it. I'm already thinking about what I will do if I do not get tenure.


Remember, with the degree you have and the position you have (even if it ends), these things give you other options in the future. Options that many others do not have. Don't let this affect the quality of your life!!!!!

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I think it's true to a certain extent what King says about perfectionists having that fear. I often feel like I am not good enough or won't make the cut, but somehow, I do all right most of the time. I think though, that you have to keep your worries in perspective, otherwise they will paralyse you. Maybe the problem isn't so much that the career isn't the right one for you, but more that you're paralysing yourself with your fears and obsession.

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Hi KungFuMaster,

I wish I had something to say other than I feel for you, COMPLETELY!!!!!! I understand your pain. I know that this may not be what you want to hear but have you considered teaching positions. By that I mean smaller schools that have less of a research expectation as opposed to a research institute?


What is your area of study?


You are only 32 and you are up for tenure. That is really impressive by the way. I know it is rough when research goes nowhere, especially when you spend a lot of time online forums. But it is so easy to lose concentration when you are "supposed" to be doing research.


I have found I am at my best when I provide myself with a change of scenery like going to a library or something. But again that depends on what type of work you do also.


How about collaborations, with people who do the type of work that you do. I have tried collaborating myself but it doesn't work for if we are working on "their" project. I would rather find someone working on something that I am also interested in.


Anyways . . . just some thoughts

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I agree with the above posts. While I am in research-based academics right now, I think I might be happier in teaching-based academics (But I haven't decided what I want to do when I grow up yet! But I wanted to give this a try because I can't leave and then come back very easily.


I also find that my love of teaching can manifest itself in many different ways. I've already had undergrads come talk to me about what they want to do with their lives (grad school? NGO? consulting work?) and have found that guiding graduate students is teaching too, just not in a formal setting. Also, since my work is in applied research, I am involved in educating local government people, some businesses, and even homeowners in how to best conserve water and reduce their "footprint" on the environment.


That said, I'm not really sure if I like the way the bean-counters judge research-academic professors! So one day, I just may have to flip them the bird.


Sorry for hijacking the thread!

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plenty of people discover that academia is not for them, and tenure is not that easy to get these days. so you need to try to separate out worry from productive action. worry won't change anything, but planning will.


lots of people leave academia for jobs in other industries, if for nothing else because the pay can be much greater. so rather than being paralyzed, why don't you start looking into how to translate what you do into a job outside academics? search the job listings, look into what other jobs pay, how to break into the field etc.


you could be very sought after outside the academic realm, and end up making a lot more money too! you can always look for jobs teaching at community colleges or online universities, since they are more interested in teachers as opposed to researchers.

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