You might have visions of being that scientist that goes down in the history books – the one with the spectacular insight that changes the world. Don’t let go of that drive. It will give you the courage to go big, to innovate, in ways that bring you joy and make the world a better place.
But know that most of your time will be spent building upon the work of others. Science progresses by a slow collective push of incremental knowledge, building upwards. Don’t despair that each drop is small. Settle into becoming part of the river. Learn what has come before, by reading in your focused area and also in the foundational and tangential areas that influence your niche. Practice the art of finding the next incremental step where your skills and the practicalities of a research question can fill in a gap to provide a platform for the next work. Get your work out there rather than letting it sit inside your mind or in a dusty drawer, by publishing it, so that others can build upon your excellent progress. Look for the people and agencies who are putting up the sign-posts of what might come next to make the world a better place. They might be writing strategic plans or offering funding: great ideas for your consideration.
Look for all of the ways that others are lifting you up to create the next step, and be the lift for others.