A lesson from running

I ran into a retired professor who had taught me during my Masters degree recently. He had taught me about the difference between study and research (let’s leave that one for another post).

Being the teacher that he is he told me about his chance meeting of an old coach of the ekiden (Japanese style marathon) in the famous local high school. The coach said that one should not worry about the final goal when running but focus on the goal he can literally see. He said to focus on the goal of reaching that telegraph post at the top of the hill or the bend in the road, not on the final goal which is a concept in one’s head far beyond the place where you are on your run.

Like running then academic research is similar in that if you think only of the end goal the task will seem overwhelming.

Make your goals small and achievable. This is true not only of research but of everything we do. In some ways it is to focus on immediate tasks rather than long term ones even though we need the over picture, the roadmap so to speak, to get anything big like a thesis done.

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