“Hey, where’s the beef?” yells the cranky, elderly woman at a fast food counter. We see an enormous bun being poked at by two less cranky women. Trying to say something positive, they agree that the bun is big: “It’s a big fluffy bun. It’s a very big fluffy bun.” But the all-business, take-no-prisoners woman says, “Hey, where’s the beef.” And then she says the obvious, “I don’t think there’s anybody back there.”
The “where’s-the-beef” line from a 1984 Wendy’s Fast Food commercial has become synonymous with something that’s insubstantial and inflated.
Too often our goals are little more than a big, fluffy bunch of words, as insubstantial as white bread.
If your goal for 2011 is “I will finish my dissertation,” what will add some substance, some beef, if you will, to that goal?
As that silly song from the mid- ‘60s by Burt Bacharach says, “Wishing and hoping and thinking and praying, planning and dreaming” aren’t enough.
To add substance to your goal of “finish my dissertation in 2011,” let’s look at your “Have -Done” list for 2010. We rarely give ourselves credit for what we’ve done.
Typically, we shake a finger at ourselves about all that went wrong this past year. That approach reminds me of stern Suze Orman on PBS who frowns at me and says she’s my girlfriend, but she really wants to scold me about my bad money management: “I want to talk to you about the mistakes you made last year,” she says.
We need evidence that we can do this work in 2011. What are the successes from 2010 that you can build on in 2011?
An Accomplishments List definitely motivates and adds momentum toward your 2011 goal.
What evidence can you pull up for some success in the areas of perseverance, resilience, and accountability?
What meetings did you request with your advisor? What specific help did you request from your advisor? What additional resources did you find? Where do you want to look for resources in 2011?
What did you have to say no to in order to get work done?
What deadlines did you meet? What was instrumental in your meeting those deadlines? What do you want to tweak?
How did you manage your ambivalence? Your resistance? Your perfectionism?
And how much text did you produce?
Each page of writing is a success.
Each writing session in which you managed your anxiety or your resistance or your perfectionism was a success. And here you are, back at it, stronger and wiser.
Make the path to success more certain this year. Have as goals the specific patterns and processes that worked last year, and ramp them up.
Those are worthwhile, robust, substantive goals. Write them down.
I’d love to see your robust goals in writing and also in action.
All good wishes for a productive 2011,
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach