“Once the seeds of faith take root it cannot be blown away,
even by the strongest wind” –Rumi
You become what you think about. You have to envision yourself as a person who has graduated, having met your end goal by obtaining your doctorate or Master’s degree. Condition your behavior by visualizing a positive end. Take five minutes and create a clear vision of what it is going to feel like as a graduate; imagine the things you want to do, the places you want to go, and the people with whom you want to develop relationships. Keep that vision in mind as you move through your day and as you approach the tasks at hand.
Your worth is never in question. Your worth is not attached to your academic performance or your control over a research situation. Oftentimes, the dissertation does not feel like it is yours, but remind yourself that your personal worth is independent of whether or not your dissertation is moving quickly or slowly.
Have high expectations. Have high expectations of what you want to do; then create a self-fulfilling prophecy. A self-fulfilling prophecy is the prediction that causes your expectation to be true because of the positive feedback loop between belief and behavior.
Show-up enthusiastically. Great things happen in life when you just show up and share your natural enthusiasm—no matter what kind of feedback you may get from your advisor. Compartmentalize your frustration and show up with a good attitude. Remember, your advisor is the gate keeper to completing the program. Your job is to show up on fire for every email, dissertation meeting and even in your own research writing. Your enthusiasm will help promote you toward graduation.
Do your best. As long as you do your best, by using your greatest capabilities there is no failure. Success is directly related to the effort that you put toward your goals. Create great effort goals—goals that are within your control. You wouldn’t be at this stage of the dissertation process unless you were able to complete it. You have surpassed a variety of challenges thus far. Many PhD and master’s level students have completed their program and you will too. You are equipped to complete your program and you need to keep that in mind.
Let go of the idea that the dissertation is yours. Many times in the dissertation process advisors, committee members and review boards make changes, and sometimes these changes are quite substantial. Let go of the idea that the dissertation is entirely yours. This will permit you greater acceptance of the changes and enable you to move forward with the dissertation. Also try to consider the changes as enhancements to your research, rather than obstacles. Oftentimes recommendation for change further refines the dissertation.
Accept life with its constancy of change. There is no area in life where change does not occur. This applies to your past schooling and your current schooling. Accept the fact that there are going to be ups and downs on the dissertation road and view these events as part of the process rather than as an impediment. This will help you reach your end goal.
Investigate the lens in which you see the world. While different events will occur during the dissertation process, remember that what is most important is your view of the events rather than the events themselves. You have complete control over the filters that you use to see these events. Choose the filter that keeps you on the path toward completion.
Play consciously. For every task that we do in life we have a choice whether we do it with play or not. Try to bring play into all of your activities, including the sometimes arduous dissertation process. This may lighten the process and make it more bearable.
Ask questions, get leverage, and get support. The quality of your life is equal to the quality of your questions, so ask empowering questions of yourself. Get personal power leverage by associating old behaviors with pain and by associating your new behaviors with pleasure. Surround yourself with positive people and people that have achieved the goal that you are trying to achieve.
To your success!
James Lani, Ph.D.
We work with graduate students every day and know what it takes to get your research approved.