I finished my PhD in physics in the middle of last year in the UK, and have started my postdoc in Germany. My PhD had a lot of guidance and I met with my supervisor every week, but it's totally different with my postdoc. The big thing is that my postdoc is not a fulfilment of a specific grant for an experiment or project, but is a general appointment and gives me total freedom to do what I want. This means I have to be totally self-motivated, but unfortunately I'm just not. I have work to do, but it just isn't happening, and it's almost physically painful to even consider doing it. I'm not alone in this country, I live with my wife, which helps a bit, but I do miss living in the UK too. My postdoc here is for 3 years at least.
I'm proud and happy with my PhD work, but this totally undirected self-motivated career is pretty crushing. Combined with working from home due to the pandemic, and having no regular meetings with my new boss, who seems to be letting whatever happens happen, it is difficult. When I was in my PhD my old supervisor mentioned that he went through a similar depression when he started his second postdoc which was similarly unguided. How on Earth do I make the transition? Is this normal?
I also have strong feelings of guilt: I'm being paid for this, yet I'm too lazy to actually work, and yet my wife is out there working a lot as a mechanical engineer.