If you think of yourself as the author of your life story, what will you title the next chapter?
This question asks for a goal. It is good for a person to have goals, whether of achievements, experiences, or whatever.
Goals motivate us, they help us plan, and they help us focus our behaviour.
Before I thought much about the question, I aimed at holding on to what I have. That is not a bad goal, but it is not exactly stimulating.
Then I developed a better title of my next chapter: Big Ideas.
A scientist wants to have big ideas. How big? Darwin serves as the ultimate model.
His theory of evolution has ruled the field of biology for decades.
He sat on the idea for years, afraid to annoy church leaders, and then he published when he learned that Alfred Wallace was about to say the same thing in print.
Evolution means that living things evolve over long periods of time by virtue of natural selection. We humans did not have monkeys as ancestors, but we and monkeys did have the same ancestors millions of years ago.
That is why, we humans, like monkeys, have a tailbone. Monkeys actually have a tail and put that tailbone to good use!
Evolution is a valuable theory because it explains all sorts of things, including why certain types of animals exist and why the COVID-19 organism keeps changing and spreading.
I don't think I can match Darwin for scientific brilliance.
But if I do, I would like to have a city named after me: Johnnydale.
For my ideas to be original, I need to think differently from the other 7.8 billion people on earth. That is a tall order. If we all stood on the head of each other, we would reach to the moon and back many times.
We are an evolutionarily successful species in terms of surviving and spreading.
So, how am I planning to come up with big ideas?
Let's start with the major problem of overpopulation.
If we could help women avoid pregnancy except when they want to have a child, we might have a big positive effect.
A student and I are looking at research findings on the effectiveness of different psychological interventions for pregnancy prevention.
Could we use what we find to develop a highly successful intervention? We shall see.
My next chapter is not yet written. Same for you. Start with a good title.
John Malouff is an Associate Professor at the School of Psychology, University of New England.