I often ask my dissertation clients, when they commit to a goal, if this is a no- kidding, no-fooling goal.
Since it is often said that the key to finishing a dissertation is perseverance, I’m asking them if they will be unstoppable, and, in effect, to commit to perseverance.
But perseverance does not necessarily mean an all-out, urgent lock-down.
One of my clients, despite enormous achievements in her life– degrees from top schools and a high-level job, struggles with perseverance.
The word that comes to her mind when she hears the word perseverance? “Exhaustion.” The picture that comes to her mind? “Shoulders hunched.”
Pain and tension are not prerequisites for perseverance.
If you hunch your shoulders and grind your teeth in an attempt to stick with writing your dissertation, try some of these strategies instead:
1. Stop and smile. Planting a smile on your face relaxes your face and your mind. Look around for something to smile about or just smile.
2. Induce a state of being mildly happy. Researchers suggest that it’s easier to persevere if you’re in a good mood.
3. Try to come to the work fresh. If you have been pushing yourself to persevere in another area, you may have used up your perseverance.
4. Try to keep yourself from contributing to failure—use self-control and allow yourself to move forward.
5. If perseverance is not a top strength, use other top strengths as leverage. For instance, if leadership and fairness are top strengths, how can you be fair to yourself? How can you be a leader to yourself?
6. Take a break to exercise. Power walking and weight lifting have good benefits. You will return to work with a heightened ability to concentrate, and you’ll feel happier.
7. Practice, practice, practice. Recognize that you are using different strengths and approaches to gain perseverance.
8. This bears repeating–Getting what you want from yourself takes practice, practice, practice.
9. Imagine how important this project will be in 100 years.
How do you persevere? Please share your strategies.
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Until next time,
I did the same thing! What kind of celebration are you planning?
My wife and I are pursing our doctorates together from the same school. We are scheduled to graduate together in May 2008. I think about what a celebration it will be to graduate together after almost 5 years of hard work! That keeps me persevering to complete my dissertation on time.