Archive for September, 2007

The experiences of some of my clients with their dissertation advisors may be explained by research shared with me by Chris Peterson, author of Character Strengths and Virtue and A Primer in Positive Psychology.

According to Chris, the educational level of a person correlates negatively with some of the interpersonal strengths.

Social intelligence is not a top strength for many academics.

While many students have good relationships with their advisors and praise them for being caring, kind people, I often hear a different story from my clients.

One said that he thinks that people who make it through the doctoral program, get a job in academia, and then become advisors for doctoral students are a different breed from most other people.  He thinks it’s really hard for successful academics to understand the struggle that so many people have.

Another client said of his advisor, “He breezed through this process in record time.  He really truly struggles with anyone who doesn’t bang it out in record time.”

Such comments suggest that it is a challenge for many ABD’s to negotiate good relationships with their advisors. 

Strategies are needed. 

If you have any strategies that you would be interested in sharing, please write to me.   Feel free to contact me through my website www.nwcoaching.com, and of course, I will keep your identity confidential. 

At my website I also offer a free newsletter. Please sign up for it.  I’d love to hear what you think. 

Until next time,

Read Full Post »

A thoracic surgeon performs a mitral valve rep...

Image via Wikipedia

“Bold Surgery Saves a Life”

. . .

“A New Face: A Bold Surgeon, an Untried Surgery”

. . .

These headlines grabbed my eye today.

They reminded me of my client who, since she was really stuck in her writing,  decided on drastic action.  She checked into a hotel for two days and wrote.

You may recall that story–I wrote about that a few weeks ago in this space.  So she didn’t save a life, but she was hugely productive.

Now I ask you–what bold, risky step have you taken for the sake of your writing?

Did you construct the syllabus for the class you’re teaching to free you up for a day or so?

Did you commit to writing fewer comments on student papers?

Let’s get serious—what if you were 5 times bolder?

Let’s say . . . How about taking 3 weeks away from work to devote to your writing?

One of my amazing clients has done just that—she’s taken 3 weeks off, and she will not be paid for 2 of those 3 weeks.

She’s made sure that she has what she needs—she brought boxes of  her diss stuff home from work.  She’s making a detailed plan so that at the start of each day she has her to-do list of manageable tasks.  She’s arranged to check in with me by phone every couple of days as she gets started.

Surgeons don’t have a monopoly on boldness.

“. . . .And the success of Murray’s ‘extremely bold’ surgery opened the way for transplants of other organs such as the liver and heart.”

“. . . .Bold Three-Stage Brain Operation for Intractable Seizures Appears . . . .”

Finishing your dissertation may take not just a bold step, but an audacious step.

Write your own headline today.  How do you want it to read?

Imagine the copy that could be written about you.

Bold!  Brilliant!  Finishing Her Dissertation!

I’d love to hear from you.  What’s a bold step you’re willing to take?

At my website (www.nancywhichard.com),  I offer a free newsletter.  I think you would like it.  Why not sign up for it and then tell me what you think?

Until next time,


Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC

Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach




Read Full Post »

I’ve been on a trip, away from my writing projects and away from other job-related commitments.  It’s hard to come back.

I enjoy writing my blog.  I also have another writing project that is new and important to me, but re-starting takes effort.

Coming back to most writing tasks requires more of us than just doing it.

1)  It takes self-awareness.
I needed to give myself permission to feel whatever it was that was getting in my way. 

2 I am free to choose. 
I had quite a bit of work piled up from all corners of my work life, and some of it was stressful—the kind of piddly stuff that clutters my brain and annoys me.  But in my absence, the piddly stuff had grown to a nose-high level. I could groan and moan and continue to push through that work, becoming increasingly cranky, or I could give myself permission to choose.

3)  Take a moment.
I needed to give myself a moment to settle in and regroup.  I needed to sit quietly.
4)  Write whatever comes into your mind. 
Usually ideas come to me as I write, and I need to write in order to remember this.  I am often surprised as I start to write that ideas actually start coming to me, just as they usually do.  I tell my clients to trust themselves.  Likewise, I need to trust myself. And take a moment.  And remember that I am free to choose.

Read Full Post »

What value do you put on your time?

It’s easy to let time slip through your fingers. 

You have only half an hour before an appointment.  You’re waiting for a student, a spouse, a child, a partner to show up—he’ll be here momentarily. 

You’re ready with an excuse for letting the time get away because, after all, what can you do on your dissertation in 15 or 30 minutes? 

Another 30 minutes lost.

I was talking to a dissertator the other day who is paid by the hour by a very good institute.  She is paid well and knows that she is lucky to have the job.

But she doesn’t value her time in the same way that the institute does. She doesn’t think she could get much done on her dissertation in part of an hour.

Think of all of the things that you can do in 15 minutes.  If you have children, you can read a story to them and tuck them in—that’s a big deal, but it doesn’t take much time. 

You can get ready for work in 15 minutes, especially when you push yourself.

You can read one or two major stories on the front page of your paper.

You can run, do a few exercises, or take a fast walk for 15 minutes.  In only a few minutes, you can get your heart rate up. And I’ll bet after 15 minutes you’ll feel as if you’ve really done something.  And you will say to yourself—“Well, even if I don’t get any more exercise today, at least I did that.”

One of my clients who finished her degree this summer said that one of the most important things she learned while writing her dissertation was to make use of small chunks of time. 

What if you decided that if 15 minutes are all you have on some days to work on your dissertation, well, you’ll make those 15 minutes count?

How do you use or lose the time you have?  I’d love to hear from you.   

At my website I offer a free newsletter.  I think you would like it.  Why not sign up for it and then tell me what you think?  

Until later,


Read Full Post »

“Write first” has been the admonition of many a writing maven, and it still holds water. Pop out of bed, get coffee and cereal, do the minimum of readying for the day and then you’re at it.  The writing is in the middle of your desk, top priority, first thing out of the box.

That works when it works, but what about when it doesn’t?

What is it that calls to you and works as a major distraction to your writing first?  Oh, sure, we all know the danger of checking email. But what else gets in your way?

A client recently told me how tough it is for her to ignore the morning paper and go straight to writing.  In order to get in an hour’s writing before she goes to the office, she had given priority to her writing.

And she is writing—that’s a big win. 

But by not reading the newspaper and going directly to her writing task each morning, she felt something was missing, even wrong. 

As we talked about what she found compelling about the paper, she said that reading the paper first had been a long-time habit.

The main reason that the change wasn’t sitting well seemed to be that reading the newspaper first had honored her top strengths. 

Her top strengths (Values in Action; www.authentichappiness.com) are
1) Curiosity and interest in the world and
2) Love of learning.

Writing first conflicted with her values, or at least it felt that way to her. 

To take a step back and consider other choices,  my client planned a newspaper trial—that is, on one morning this week, she’ll get up earlier to read the newspaper first and then watch for any effects on her writing process. 

This morning, in a little parallel trial, I gave myself first to 30 minutes with the paper.  I didn’t rush to write first,  to prepare for my first clients of the morning, or even to scan my email. 

I had almost forgotten how reading the newspaper helps me to focus.  It slowed me down, and that’s a good thing.

The language of the paper, the feel of the newsprint, gave rise to ideas for writing. Before long, I was looking around for my legal pad and smear-proof ballpoint.   My morning writing and I were launched!   If you’re interested in more tips about using your strengths, I offer a sign-up at my website  for a free newsletter.

Are you using your top strengths?  I look forward to hearing from you.

Until later,


Read Full Post »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 170 other followers

Build a website with WordPress.com