Problem to be solved

The other day I completed a difficult and uncertain benchmark in my PhD, the sort of step that tested the viability of one of the major features of my research.

During the several weeks leading up to this, I encountered some of the hardest problems that I’ve faced so far. The thing that surprised me was that after each problem presented itself, I was able to not only identify its source but also a solution, usually quickly even.

After I went through this several times, I realized: these are nothing more than problems to be solved.

What was I so worried about?

Expect to encounter difficulty, but also expect that you will prevail against it. If you are doing interesting work, you will be brought to a standstill by problems that stretch your understanding and threaten your belief in your expertise. Don’t shrink back from these, but rely on your training and move forward confidently. This is pragmatic optimism.

Your saw is sharp enough, and you may actually be on the verge of a better insight than you expected.