Your Guide to a Positive and Productive Semester

Academic News & Updates

In what feels like a blink of an eye, it is September and we are back to school. The start of the fall semester finds us all in a unique predicament, where dissertation and academic progress is still expected but under quite different guidelines than what we are accustomed to. We are seeing significant changes, like partially open stats labs, reduced or virtual-only office hours, limited access to librarians who are now by appointment only, and reduced functionality for tutoring centers. Every academic milestone feels further away. So, this September our newsletter theme is all about practicing positivity and inviting optimism into our everyday lives. If you are feeling overwhelmed already, reach for these practices to promote positivity within your life.

Practice Visualizing

Successful people visualize their success daily. Visualization refers to the practice of changing our inner thoughts in order to affect, or change, our outer world. When we visualize our goals being met, the type of happiness we desire, meeting our milestones, we begin to activate the law of attraction, which means that what you think about (or visualize) will come to be true. Creativity will start to flow as your subconscious activates with visualization and your brain will program itself to recognize and search out the resources needed to achieve your goals more readily.

In practice: Visualize your next dissertation chapter being complete. Think about the next dissertation or grad school milestone you want to achieve and then visualize yourself achieving your goal. How do those accomplishments make you feel? Visualize smooth and efficient progress all semester. You will surely achieve it!

Read, Watch, Write

Staying positive when feeling stuck can seem like an insurmountable practice. When academically stagnant, it is important to pull inspiration from other research, books, movies, documentaries, etc. If you are in the beginning phases of your dissertation, read all of the literature you can find that relates to your topic. Learn from past researchers and allow yourself to be inspired. Consume information that inspires devotion to your topic and research. Write about what you read and watch. Pay attention to how your learnings mold your research. If change is inspired, change your own research to best fit the new direction you are taking. Find clarity in past research and get into the habit of writing about it.

In practice: If your topic needs to change, be flexible and allow your dissertation to adapt. Remember, you can go on to save the world and contribute significant ideas to your field once you have graduated. Your dissertation does not have to be the first piece of your legacy, after all, you have already accomplished so much to get to this point. Your dissertation is the last stepping-stone before you enter your field as an expert!

Be Kind to Yourself

It is difficult to stay positive and optimistic when facing hard times. Even though it may be easy to show compassion towards others, it is our own self that needs the most kindness in the face of adversity. It is less about where we place blame when things do not go just right and more about the self-encouragement and compassion we can extend to our minds and hearts. Remember, it is these tough moments of trials and tribulations that make us who we are and mold us into the greatness we can become!

In practice: When you experience a set-back in your dissertation journey, approach the situation with an open mind, and do not place blame on yourself. Understand that there is time and room to correct and move forward. Create the same compassion you would give to a loved one and give it to yourself. Challenge yourself to be internally kind and watch your success bloom!

Be Resilient

With positive visualization, an open mind to collect new information through various mediums, and kindness as a compass, resilience is the last ingredient for a positive outlook and a successful semester. Challenges make us stronger and the dissertation journey is one long-term challenge that must be overcome before graduation. You may receive a lot of rejection throughout your dissertation journey. Your direction may change one, two, or many times, but your resilience cannot. Resilience comes from adaptability, acceptance, and gratitude.

In practice: Adapt, adapt, adapt! As the semester develops, allow yourself to roll with the punches and adjust to the changes. If your university no longer has tutoring or their stats lab is closed, search for free dissertation resources online. If you need to change your methodological approach, stay confident, and visualize the change in a positive way. Finishing your dissertation and earning your degree is your goal. Be resilient, and make your success non-negotiable.

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