Archive for July, 2007

As you might have thought or maybe feared, a writer’s perseverance is
one of the strongest predictors of a completed dissertation.

ABD’s or writers of dissertations often bemoan their lack of perseverance.
They have trouble sticking with their writing and moving forward. They often
have trouble “getting it out the door in a timely fashion,” to quote one
definition of perseverance.

Few, if any of my dissertation coaching clients say that perseverance is one
of their top strengths. One client said, “I think I value this [strength]
very much—and hence my distress that I don’t do it.”

Are you curious whether perseverance is one of your top character strengths?
And if it isn’t, what are your top strengths?

I ask my coaching clients to take a Signature Strengths Inventory. It will give
you a ranking of your 24 character strengths.

You can find the VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire at

Check it out—it’s part of the ongoing research in the new field of positive

Take heart. Even if perseverance is not one of your Signature Strengths, there are ways to finesse this problem. Stay tuned! More to come.

Until next time,


Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Dissertation Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com


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As one of my dissertation clients looked toward the summer, he would say,

“I have to really work this summer.”  He would also say, “If I don’t accomplish
a lot this summer, I might as well quit.”  I could hear tension and guilt in
his voice.

When I asked him if he wanted to write, he answered, “I have to.”

Sometimes it helps to remember that we made a choice to get a doctorate, and
each day we write, we’re exercising our right to choose. 

When I asked my client to say, “I want to write–  I choose to write,” he complied,
though not enthusiastically. 

“Humor me,” I said, as I asked him to try it again.  This time, though, I asked if
he would look in a mirror and watch himself as he spoke those words and listen
carefully to what he was saying. 

To his surprise, he reported that he was noticing a lessening of his tension. 

As odd as it sounds, changing what you say about your dissertation can change
your perspective. 

Check out what happens when you say, “I choose to write this dissertation.”
Try it a few times each day, and keep it up for a week or so. 

Most of my dissertation clients report that this experiment helps them feel more
in control of their writing.

Changing our language has a powerful effect because it removes us from the role
of victim, reminding us that we do have a choice and that we are strong enough
to stand up to this work.

Until next time,


Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy@ nancywhichard.com

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Zillow.com gives you information about houses.  If you’re doing work on house values, studying a specific house, or studying an area connected with a person, Zillow.com might be helpful.

It could also be your reward for a break after you reach a writing goal.

You can find information by putting in a street address, city, and state of a house, or you can just put in the street address and zip code.

You may get an aerial view of the home and area.  In addition you’ll get an estimate of the current house value (often it’s the tax assessment).

If you’re in the market for a specific house, you might be interested in other information that often is included—such as, number of bedrooms and baths, square footage, lot size. I very much like the feature of the year the house was built.

But what I like most is the Bird’s Eye View.

I looked up the first house we owned.  It’s in a city 490 miles from where we now live. We were the first owners, and seeing the date it was built reminded me of many of my life’s milestones.  Hovering over the house in my Bird’s Eye View reminded me of my neighbors:

the family with the active, cute boys on one side of us, the woman in the family on the other side who was earning her doctorate in English [at that time it hadn’t occurred to me that I might someday earn a doctorate, too], the people across the street who brought us a bottle of wine when we moved in and shared their experiences on keeping the front yard as natural as possible.

It’s interesting how much info there is on Zillow.com, and it’s remarkable how many memories its Bird’s Eye View can evoke.

Hope Zillow might be of use to you in your dissertation.

If you use Zillow as a reward after you’ve reached a writing goal, be sure you’ve planned your break well.  Remember to set your timer.  Stop at the sound.  Result– a great, guilt-free break.

Until next time,


Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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