Interesting Challenges

Throughout my PhD I thought that I was particularly attracted to what I did because I loved the challenge of maths. Maths can feel like there is a secret language at work. If you know it, or know enough, then you can feel powerful. It’s hard to get to know enough, and then to build up enough intuition about how to apply this magic to solve problems.

After my PhD I realised that I loved having interesting challenges to work on, and for a long time maths had been filling that space for me. So I started looking for interesting projects. This blog is an interesting challenge to work on. I have to write a lot (and edit a lot). I have to do a lot of planning and scheduling. Interesting challenges are worth it. They stretch you. They develop you. They’re worth finding or making.

At the end of your PhD, spend some time thinking about the interesting challenges you had. What did you learn from them? How did you encounter them? What happened as a result? Your examiners will not necessarily launch into asking you about the interesting challenges of your PhD, but if you spend time reviewing them you’ll find rich ideas to reflect on.