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Thoughts and feelings

December 17, 2008

I tend to make decisions based on reason, logic, and data whenever possible. Seems to make good sense to me, and it’s pretty reliable. As an engineer, I HAVE to use this technique professionally, as it’s pretty hard to quantify feelings and, thus, defend any decisions based on feelings. I don’t think I’d want to get in a car designed by someone who simply felt the brakes were strong enough.

So, I tend to get into the habit of analyzing data for every decision. But, it’s important to break habits sometimes. Keep instinct in the back of your mind as tool, maybe as a tie-breaker when all other things appear equal or maybe as way to keep yourself balanced.

When I made the decision to go back to school, the data seemed to say it was a bad idea. I’d have to give up my salary for two years, and I could only expect a $5,000 pay increase for the extra degree. Plus, I didn’t have a research fellowship when I started, so I was also paying for tuition, room, and board on my own. A lot to invest for a meager pay increase. However, I could see my career path going in a direction I wasn’t in love with, and I had a strong feeling I would be happier and more satisfied after developing a specialty.

Seven years later, I’ve never questioned that decision. There were a LOT of long nights, and weekends were filled with homework, but I’ve never been more challenged. And, I’ve never done the calculation of how the financial investment worked out. I don’t have to.

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