Finding and Following Your Passion

May 12, 16:00-17:30 (UK), 17:00-18:30 (CH)

Passion is often thought of as a strong drive coupled with intense enjoyment. As such, passion can be used as a powerful motivator and a guiding light in life. If you know what you are passionate about and can align your life accordingly, you are on the path to sustainable happiness. It has been said that “when your work is your passion, you never have to work another day in your life”. However, discovering one’s passion(s) is not trivial; most of us spend little time reflecting on what we are passionate about, and even for those who do take the time to reflect, the answer may be elusive. And the obstacles don’t end there. Once you know what you want to do, you still have to overcome your own inhibitions and fears, real and perceived expectations from your surroundings, and potentially make scary and life-changing decisions. To me, finding and following my passion means to get to know myself, to understand what I want from and in my life and to align myself with my priorities. I've spent a lot of time chasing after things that I thought I wanted, just to figure out that neither the chase nor the goal really made me happy. Quite the contrary actually---I often ended up pushing myself to the point of being miserable, striving for things that I thought would make me happy. And I don't think I am the only one who has fallen for the paradox created by confusing means-to-an-end with terminal goals. In fewer words: I figured out that making myself miserable is not going to make me happy. So now the big question is obviously: how do I become happy? I think part of the answer lies in figuring out what I am passionate about. What are my core values, purposes and what gives me meaning? And how does a PhD or a career in academia fit in with all of that? In this unworkshop, I would like to explore the above questions together with you. After all, most of the answers probably lie within ourselves, but sometimes a little help is needed to see them. My idea for the unworkshop is to discuss the concept of passion and explore what it means to “find one’s passion”. We will talk about approaches to figuring out your purpose in life, and what you need in order to follow your passion when you find it. It will be a hands-on session where we try different exercises to get started on answering these questions. I don't expect anyone to have it all figured out by the end of the workshop. Rather, my hope is that we can take the first few steps on a journey together, and that we will want to continue to walk that path and support each other on the way. If this sounds interesting, you can register here to get the Zoom link for the unworkshop:

About Matilda

I am a 2nd year PhD student at ETH Zürich working on applied cryptography. My current research is on forward security for protocols like TLS and cloud storage. I received my MSc in engineering mathematics from Lund University in Sweden, and I also spent a year of my masters as an exchange student at UC San Diego, where I was first introduced to cryptography. Outside of work I like to hike in the mountains, ski, bake sourdough bread and read. Lately I've been reading about mindfulness and well-being, and thanks to the unworkshops I have gotten into the habit of meditating regularly. I joined the Scientific Excellence and Well-Being initiative [1] at ETH because I think a lot of really bright people in academia who are very passionate about their work aren't as happy as they could be (including myself), and I would like to help change that. I see a potential for a different approach to doing research, and think that together we have the power to bring about that change, starting with ourselves.