Confessions of a researchaholic

June 10, 2012

Do what you love

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:11 am
Tags: ,

I always believe this world will be a much better place if everyone can work on a job that he or she truly enjoys. This is particularly true for research, or any job that heavily relies on creativity.

Research, by nature, involves a lot of risks and failures. This can be very frustrating and wearing if that is not something you really enjoy.
(Simple mental test: if everything you do end up being failure, will you still do it?)

This is a profession that attracts a lot of very smart and very hard working folks. There is no way you can compete with them if you do not put in enough efforts. And that can only happen if you truly enjoy the process.
(Simple mental test: can you do it 24×7?)

Creativity is central for research. I believe good ideas can be created only if (1) one is truly interested in the subject and (2) thus one can spend all the time working on it, including during sleep. (I know this because quite a few of my ideas were obtained from interrupted sleeps during the wee hours.)

I found an interesting post from Mark Cuban that is related.
His main point is to follow your effort instead of passion.
On face of it, this seems to contradict what I said above. But further thinking reveals it is actually not: love and effort form a positive feedback loop; one usually loves what she can excel, which requires efforts, which are more likely to be spent if there is enough love.
I guess the main point of that post is that people often do not know what they really love; passion can be misleading, so look at effort as a more reliable indicator.


  1. Could you share the deep reasons why you love research? To me, research is not more exciting or interesting than the other jobs. I have never been really having a job. But I am supposed to be doing research now, although I don’t think what I’m doing can be called “research”. I indeed enjoy learning, knowing something new when reading papers, writing codes and attending seminars. However, I cannot produce research ideas. Facing a problem, I have no idea what solution can be proposed. Looking at the others’ solution, I notice “Ah! I also know this. It’s not that hard.” I suspect one reason is that I don’t have a good foundation in math or programming. I didn’t study math and practice programming seriously when I was an undergrad in a not very good university. I just put in enough effort to pass the exams. Then that’s it. Now I am in a lousy research lab in Singapore, which is quite a good match to me (both of us are lousy). 3 years have passed and I still don’t have any publication. I don’t know what I should do. Should I study math and programming seriously again to lay a solid foundation for research? But it seems time left for a PhD degree is not very much.

    I admire you very much. You published many SIGGRAPH papers with very few names on them, sometimes only your name. I hope someday I could reach the same level as you. Could you give me some suggestions?

    BTW, the reason I choose to do a PhD in Singapore is that I can get the scholarship every month and go abroad. I didn’t apply for US universities because I didn’t have the money to take the English tests (GRE, TOEFL) and pay the application fee. Singapore didn’t require me to have English test results at that time.

    Comment by loser — August 18, 2012 @ 6:35 pm | Reply

  2. […] I am building my very first internal research group, the culture I want to instill is “have fun and be awesome“. I realized, through interviewing hundreds of students (within just one year) […]

    Pingback by » Initial culture Confessions of a researchaholic — August 27, 2012 @ 5:06 pm | Reply

  3. […] It is not going to be easy. Everybody wants to rule the world. But do what you love + strike for the best is probably your best bet. In contrast, trend following will only put you […]

    Pingback by » My efficient frontier theory Confessions of a researchaholic — December 28, 2012 @ 12:16 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Theme: Rubric. Get a free blog at