Anyone else struggling with motivation during the current situation?

A little about myself: I’m 38 and working on a complete career change. In fact, I’ve never had much of a career at all. I just did what I had to do to take care of my family. In 2016, I went back to school to try to make something of myself. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do so I ended pursuing a multidisciplinary studies degree heavily focused on business.

I discovered data science last year through an introductory Python course and, this being my senior year, I had made the decision to pursue it directly. I would work my way through Dataquest’s data science pathway (while continuing my regular courses) and, toward the end of the year, I would start applying for internships and junior analyst positions with the hope of entering a master’s analytics/data science program next year. That was my plan and I though it was a pretty good one, but, of course, covid-19 has thrown a massive wrench into the gears.

I’ve been laid off for the last month and on lockdown. My children’s school has been cancelled so I’m also acting as homeschool teacher (which I admittedly love; my daughter is in the gifted program largely due to work that we’ve done together), and homemaker. My wife is still working thankfully because she’s able to work from home, so we’re not in dire financial straits yet, but it feels so hard to do more than the absolute bare minimum right now.

I’m having a really time believing that all of the work that I have put in and continue to put in will pay off. I’m about 15% of the way through the program, working on matplotlib and I enjoy the work. It’s interesting to me and I think that I could probably make a decent analyst one day, but knowing that I’ll be graduating into a massive recession with overwhelming uncertainty about everything makes it really hard to work on it some days. And, of course, I also feel selfish and guilty even thinking about stuff like this when there are people out there dying or having loved ones die, which doesn’t help.

I don’t know. I don’t even know if this is the right place to post this. I guess I just needed to let it out to people who might be going through something similar.

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It is definitely the right place to post this @jwb0026. Thanks for sharing your heartfelt story with us :heavy_heart_exclamation:

I don’t think I have the right words to compose a comforting reply but I want to say that you are not alone in this crisis. Your struggles aren’t just your own; everyone kind of understands your unique problems. Even people in foreign lands, across borders, beyond strange cultures. That, to me, feels a bit comforting.

Also, I wanted to say that I was so relieved to read that you aren’t in dire financial straits. I hope your situation improves and that you be an amazing analyst soon. I would love to see it!

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Yes I am really struggling to be motivated. However, I deviced a timetable that I strictly adhere to. So whether or not I like, I must study this dataquest course. I just hope I am able to transition in the data science field as I envision it in my head. :smile

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Thanks for your kinds words. I know that I’m not alone, and truly, I’m fortunate. There are many worse off than me and I’ve no right to complain. I think it’s just that for the first time in my life I sort of felt like I was starting to live up to my potential (whatever that may be) or at least on a path towards it. Kind of feels like a meme at this point, but I really thought this was going to be my year.

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I have a set schedule too. I try to do most of my work very early in the morning before everyone wakes up so I’m not taking too much time away from my family. Since I was already going to school, it wasn’t hard to incorporate Dataquest into that routine. And that does help. I definitely couldn’t do it without it being a habit. I know what you mean about having that vision in your head. I’m trying to hold on to it, too.

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Hi @jwb0026, this is indeed a very difficult time. I have been feeling a similar way and i found that a useful tool to use was to practice some sort of loving kindness meditation, or to keep a gratitude journal. I started making it part of my morning and have found that I’m alot more productive and motivated. It might seem unrelated, but it helps shifting away our negative thoughts and instead shift them towards positive thought. It just seems to put me onto the right track, to completing my to do lists and generally staying on track.

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That’s a good idea. I generally read the news first thing in the morning which just leaves me feeling angry and anxious, lol. Thanks for the kind reply.

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I want to say that a brand new world is unfolding before our very eyes. There are so many unknowns. Data Science will look at data and patterns and help determine the direction of things. A very concrete example is the Covid-19 data collection that is going on regarding new cases, deaths etc using data.
Many industries will need to look for patterns based on data and make decisions based on this data. I hope this is helpful and I also feel it’s good to hear that your spouse is still employed to help you bridge through what is going on now.
The survivors must help set directions for those that pass away. We are all human. I have been in the IT field for over 35 years and am in a position where I am learning Data Science after doing Linux and Databases for many years. I have ADHD and sometimes it is really hard to stay focused on now and the future and how to move forward. We all move 1 step at a time in the direction we want to go. I don’t know if what I have posted here helps you at all. Love and family and all the experiences that you are going through is part of the tapestry of a life well lived.

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I think you’re right. Data and the data science field aren’t going away any time soon. In fact, I think it will probably continue to grow exponentially in the coming years, in part due to extremely difficult situations such as the one we’re facing now, and in part because it is becoming a must-have just for a company to be competitive. I won’t even get into its potential uses and implications for surveillance because I’m not sure how I feel about that. But yes, I agree, this is still a burgeoning field and there will be plenty of work in future. My worry is that there will be a massive amount of displaced workers in the near future (many of whom have much more than my zero experience) all vying for those jobs. As someone who is in the process of changing careers, that feels a bit like standing in front of a mountain. Just have to try, I guess. The only other option is to not try and I don’t even know how to do that at this point.

Whatever else I’m feeling aside, I’m grateful for this time with my family. You’re right that that is a sign of a life well-lived, and I’m not taking a minute of that for granted. I just want a career that I can be as proud of as I am of my family. Does that makes sense?

Thanks for the words of encouragement!

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I wonder as well if this is worth it even though it is the best way ive found to learn and, although challenging, i love it. It fits my learning style perfectly.
I havent checked yet but does dataquest support networking, which is the best way to get a job. If they dont have it yet we should form a community of members , those who have completed a path, to support ea other in finding work.

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You can join Dataquest Student Network:

https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13793460/

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That’s a really thing. I didn’t realize that existed. Thanks for posting the link.

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Hi @jwb0026. That sounds very frustrating and worrisome, to have worked so hard towards a big career transition, and now suddenly it feels like all your plans are in jeopardy. I’m sorry that you’re in this difficult situation, and having to cope with a layoff on top of that. It’s not selfish to be feeling anxiety and other negative feelings about your own personal situation, even as others are suffering - we’re all only human, trying to do the best we can during incredibly challenging times. I think self-compassion is really important here, and recognizing that negative feelings can still co-exist with gratitude for what we do have.

There is so much uncertainty in the future and that is really hard. Sometimes a shift in perspective can be helpful. It sounds like your concerns are focused on the near future, like the next 1-2 years. I agree that that time frame is probably going to be quite challenging, with a major economic recession and difficult job market that will likely persist for a while.

But what about 5 years from now? 10 years from now? At some point, the economy will recover, and life will get back to some semblance of normal. What do you hope your life will look like then? I think there’s an excellent chance that you’ll be working in a great job as a data analyst. It might have taken a little longer to get there. Maybe you had to postpone the master’s program and work in your old field for a while to save up money. Maybe you had to wait a little longer for the economy to recover before entering the job market. But despite the delays and bumps in the road, you achieved your goal.

The studying you’re doing now on Dataquest is an investment in yourself and your future. Every new skill you learn, that’s yours forever. Not just the next couple of years, but the rest of your career.

You mentioned wanting to have a career you can be proud of - that is awesome! How about thinking some more about the specifics of that? What are the things that you’ll feel proud of? How many of them depend on having an actual job in the field, and how many are applicable to the studying you’re doing right now? I’m guessing there’s a lot you can feel proud of right now. And the things that are specific to actually having a job as a data analyst, will you feel any less proud of them if you achieve them a little later than initially planned?

You mentioned that although you’re struggling with motivation right now, you’ve still been sticking to your study schedule. That is a truly amazing accomplishment and I hope you can give yourself a lot of credit for that. During these crazy times, I think the only reasonable expectation for ourselves is the absolute bare minimum to survive. Anything on top of that is a wonderful bonus.

It sounds like you’re doing a really good job coping with difficult circumstances, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. Continuing your studies, home-schooling your daughter, plus all the other family and household responsibilities you and your wife take care of.

Finally, I wanted to add that you’re definitely not alone. We all have our struggles. I’ve actually been struggling with many things for quite a while, even before the pandemic. My life turned upside down about a year ago due to health problems. Since then I’ve been trying to cope with a lot of uncertainty and physical limitations. There were many months where I had to let go of everything - all my responsibilities, all my goals, all my activities - because it was just too much. The most I could expect from myself was just the bare minimum of eating, sleeping, and medical appointments. Now I’m slowly able to do a bit more, but “normal” is still a distant memory that I might never return to. Sometimes I feel hopeless and sometimes I feel cautiously optimistic, but I continue to muddle through and do my best to create a new normal for myself.

Anyways, I hope some of this has been helpful and I wish you all the best. Take care!

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No doubt…I have lost all motivation for this over the past few months. I was super charged about it for a long time before and very devoted, but things have been overwhelming. Reading the news is always a mistake, but I want to stay informed, even thought it’s generally awful on all fronts. So leaves me spinning about all the possibilities. It would be great to be motivated again, but at the same time I don’t want to push myself with yet more beyond the actual survival of all of this for the duration. You are not alone.

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That was incredibly kind and encouraging. I truly appreciate it. I’m pretty terrible at self-compassion, but you’re right that we should all probably be a little easier on ourselves given the circumstances. And you’re also right that the long-view is the only one that makes any sense right now. Over the last three years, I’ve developed a very short-term-oriented view, like, “What do I have to today…this week…for the next month?” When you’re juggling work, school, kids, family, household whatever, it’s the only way to be, because looking at years of work just feels too gargantuan. You just prioritize tasks, put your head down, and get to work.
But that has some pretty negative consequences when everything changes daily (or hourly, lately). So, yeah. Long view and positivity.

You sound like a very kind person. Thank you for taking the time to provide some positivity to a random person on the internet. I’m sorry for the health struggles you’ve had to (or continue to) endure. I can only imagine what it feels like facing a pandemic in the face of serious, pre-existing health issues. Sounds like you’re facing it with as much courage as anyone could ask for. I wish you all the best and I truly hope it gets better for you.

Thanks, again.

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@jeff13 I understand all those things. It’s such a constant struggle between wanting to know what’s going on with everything and being bombarded with negativity on all fronts. And it changes so often, it feels like if you aren’t checking the news every hour, you’ve probably missed something important (dunno that that’s actually true, it just FEELS that way). Definitely overwhelming and hard to look at the future when one minute it feels like we’ll have hundreds of thousands of casualties from covid-19 and the next a civil war. I think @jenfly is right in that we need to be taking the long perspective here. Eventually we will recover, the world will recover, and hopefully we’ll be in a better position because of the work we’re doing now. In the meantime, we just have to pat ourselves on the back for doing anything at all, and try to stay hopeful. Good luck, my friend.

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This is so well put @jenfly! :heavy_heart_exclamation: :heavy_heart_exclamation: I am SO thankful that you took the time to share your feelings, strength and compassion with the community. I send my best wishes to you and I really really (really!) hope that you get better soon. :heart:

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Hey man, I know how hard you are in this moment. I also reached a turning point in my career when I had no idea where I am going to. I reflected upon achievements I have made and the strength and weakness of my own. I pinpointed three things in my life.
1 Keep focused on your long term objective, don’t be distracted from outside resources. We can make some timesheet to organize our daily behaviors or use other methods to motivate ourselves on a daily routine.
2 Be true to yourself. If you are not satisfied with your current condition, you should consider leading your career in a different direction, whether it sounds like crazy from others’ perspective. You should have passion on something, something you can dedicate youself to.
3 Identify your personal weakness and strength. As for me, I am good at calculating and chess from my childhood, but have difficulty visualizing the geometric shapes. So I decided to pursue a bachelor degree’s in math with statistics major, instead of pure math.
4 Foresee the challenges ahead of you and stay prepared. Many of us are drawn to the AI fanaticism because of the high salary and relatively low entering bar as compared to other traditional careers, which may require years of training in order to fully qualify the job requirements. Be aware of the fact that you are competing with other aspiring, motivated persons when trying to land a job in data science. They are probably smarter, younger and more motivated than you. You should be aware of challenges before taking actions.
We only live once so we must live in moment. Good luck with your career.

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@jwb0026 I’m so glad I could provide some encouragement! And I forgot to say, thank you for sharing your story. It really resonated with me. Even though our circumstances are different, many of the themes and feelings are the same.

There’s definitely a balancing act between the long view and the short view. They each have their own advantages and disadvantages in different situations. I think the pitfall is when we get stuck in one and it’s not serving us well. That’s when shifting to the other perspective can make all the difference.

I’m very fortunate that in some ways the pandemic hasn’t actually disrupted my life that much because I was already working from home pretty much all the time. But on the other hand, I definitely have a lot of anxiety about possibly getting infected and there were a few weeks where I was basically too scared to leave my house. I’m gradually figuring out how to manage that anxiety and find some kind of balance between taking lots of precautions vs. not going crazy with cabin fever and obsessively disinfecting everything. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Thank you so much for your kind words of support! I really appreciate it.

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@jeff13 and @jwb0026 I agree that the news is a real challenge. I certainly haven’t got it all figured out, but one thing that I’ve found helpful is to get a curated, reasonably balanced summary of the day’s news from the evening news on a major network. Many of them are available in full on Youtube. I like these because they include the day’s main stories along with some positive stories, so it’s not all doom and gloom (just mostly doom and gloom, lol).

I still do find myself checking the news other times in the day, and clicking on articles that friends are posting on social media. But I find that I do this to a lesser extent because I feel like I’m already pretty well informed from those evening newscasts.

Just an idea, maybe worth a try!

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