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Archive for the ‘curiosity’ Category

As I sit here, waiting for our daughter and her husband to arrive for Thanksgiving, I think of all the people traveling today.  The bad weather has added an extra dose of anxiety to the trip.  Yet, we saddle up and head for home, no matter the weather.   Well, many of us do.

A cousin in Boston emailed me today to say, “It has been raining here since last night.  Traffic has been a nightmare.  Glad I am not going anywhere.”

My cousin may have the right idea.

With so much invested in the travelling, it’s likely that once we’re all gathered under the same roof, some conflicts could arise.

One dissertation client today told me that, yes, she is travelling, but once she arrives, her plan is to have two one-hour writing sessions during the holiday.  Each session will be at the beginning of her day before she becomes involved with family activities.

I asked, “Is this going to be a good holiday for you?”  And my client answered hesitantly, “I think it will be o.k.”

Maybe you, too, have a bit of concern about how this holiday will turn out.  What can you do to make it an o.k. holiday or maybe more than just o.k.?

  • Be in the moment.  Try to be appreciative of your family.  Think of one special person that you have been looking forward to seeing and either plan an outing or make an effort to ask the kinds of questions of that person that you know will make her feel good.
  • Take time out to rest or to be by yourself.  When you are physically tired or over-stimulated by too many people in one place, small things may begin to bother you.  Anticipate the need to recover before you’re exhausted.
  • Make time to walk or exercise—either with people or by yourself.  Exercise will help burn up some of those calories from the Thanksgiving dinner and will also help you generate positive feelings and a more tolerant perspective on your relatives.
  • If you are not a shopper, plan something special with a relative  in order to avoid the Black Friday shopping expedition. A museum or a park or somewhere quiet that is far from the mall.  This may be your only chance to get to know your cousins a little bit better.

Plan for a good holiday, a holiday with a few special moments that you can carry home with you, memories that might even put you in a good mood when it is once again time for a writing session.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a comfortable, relaxing holiday.  Safe journeys.

And bring back a snapshot of a moment to remember.

All good wishes,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC

Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach

http://www.nancywhichard.com

nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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Six degrees of separation: Artistic visualization.

Image via Wikipedia

 

“I’ve had very little, if any, support from my advisor or my committee,” and so began another coaching call this morning with the writer of a dissertation. 

Many dissertation coaching clients say that their advisors are hands-off, giving little or no substantive feedback, or not wanting to see a dissertation at all until it’s complete. 

Does this sound familiar?  Do you feel you’ve depleted your resources, and you need some content-specific help? 

What to do? Here are some ideas from some of my coaching colleagues and also from some of my clients. 

1.  You shouldn’t have to look outside your program for content-specific help.  If you have a coach, one of your coaching goals could be improving communication with your advisor (or someone else on your committee) who has the relevant background knowledge. Work with your coach to plan your strategy. 

2. If you can think of someone who might know someone who can get you closer to a source, you will eventually succeed.  Think about Stanley Milgram‘s Small World experiment (which inspired the Six Degrees of Separation book and movie.) 

3. Post a question on Linked-In or make up your own study group. 

4.  Engage a willing friend, colleague, or coach to read some of your text and ask you questions about what’s going on.  Tell your reader to be curious.  You want a naïve reader, not a critical expert. The right questions can help you move toward a breakthrough. 

5.  Take a class!  
As a client phrased it, “Make your own Woody Allen moment—here comes the director onto the stage.”  Figure out who could be your Woody Allen. Who is the person you most want to learn from? Then sign up for a class from that person, and write the paper for the class.  

If your project has stalled and your advisor offers minimal to no support, you need a strategy. Think Small World.  Or make your own Woody Allen moment.  

Above all, prepare for a breakthrough. 

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Exterior view. Bronze tympanum, by Olin L. War...

Image via Wikipedia

Curiosity and love of learning are powerful motivators

Todd Kashdan, author of Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life, advocates bringing your strength of curiosity to your work.  He says that the higher the level of curiosity, the greater the analytic ability and problem-solving skills. 

 Most of my dissertation coaching clients have “love of learning” and “curiosity” as two of their top five strengths. These strengths are golden; use them and enjoy them.

A curious person asks questions.  

Prompt yourself.  Ask:  What question is driving my writing? What am I discovering—from my research and also as I write? What am I saying that others are not?

It is key that you bring your curiosity to your writing, but not to some technological novelty only peripherally connected to your work.  

Stay vigilant to keep your curiosity from letting you engage in delaying tactics.

 Manage your curiosity so that it has a positive effect on your dissertation.  Curiosity boosts your motivation.

I’d love to hear from you — how are you using your curiosity?

All good wishes,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net
www.usingyourstrengths.com
www.smarttipsforwriters.com

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What calls us to write?  Feeling moved by an activity, an idea, a sentence, a word, a sunset, a dessert, and feeling compelled to explore it more deeply by writing about it?

Writing is like baking or eating a French dessert, a rich, consuming experience, a bit treacherous, full of uncertainty. A friend had made her favorite dessert– canelés –and, “to make things even better,” she was going to share it with me.  Having never heard of canelés, I googled the word and what appeared was a wonderful blog  with and a post about canelés, complete with a lovely picture of the small golden cakes.  The writer wrote about the history of the dessert and her own memories of eating them in Paris and then her hassles with getting the temperature right in her oven when she baked them herself.

The sensual, lively post honored the special dessert and the writer’s experience in making it.  In addition, it was a gift to me, the reader, second only to the delicious gift of canelés from my friend.

In the book The Uncommon Reader, the titular reader is the Queen of England who by happenstance begins to read voraciously late in life and to her surprise and delight, finds that reading changes her life.

Chasing her corgis near Windsor Castle, she comes upon a mobile library, and being the polite queen, she borrows a book.  One book leads to another, and eventually she wondrously finds that she would rather read than do anything else.

From her reading, she starts to understand and take note of how others feel and live. She records observations in her notebook, something that raises concerns and suspicions among her staff.  One of her advisors, an elderly man prone to not bathing, thought that writing might be preferable to reading because “in his experience writing seldom got done. It was a cul-de-sac.”   He thought that she would then neither read nor write, a state he and the Queen’s people thought best fit the Queen.

People tending the Queen attributed her loss of attention to things ceremonial to a mental decline, so unusual it was for a Queen to read, to have interests, particularly interests that few others shared, and strangest of all, to write.

While reading took her to a wonderful new place in her life, only if she were to write a book would she feel her life complete.  She gathered a determined courage in order to announce to others that her next step would be to write something significant.

The charming, fanciful book is a critique of a somewhat shallow group of leaders, but it is also a salute to the power of reading and writing.

The Queen in this story had never envisioned herself as a serious reader, no more than she imagined that she would become a writer.  The portrait of this Queen shows someone bravely going  down an uncertain road.

To write takes a willingness to do whatever is necessary in order to write.

Writing has its own special rewards and makes its own special demands.  It needs tending, care, and a complex love.

It may be hard to call yourself a writer, or even to think of yourself as a writer when you struggle to make time for it or fit it into small crevices of your day.  But sooner or later, you will honor what you do in those few, quiet moments each day and say, maybe just to yourself, “I’m a writer.”  You are many things, but you most definitely are a writer and that identity was hard-won.

Write bravely!

Nancy

P.S.  In honor of the Queen’s corgis, here’s a funny little film shared with me by a friend celebrating her own birthday.

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC

Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.nancywhichard.com
www.usingyourstrengths.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net

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Writers, particularly dissertators, often share the character strengths of curiosity and love of learning.

Do you have both of those strengths?  If you’re writing a dissertation, I’ll bet you do. Many of my clients possess those two powerful strengths (I ask all of my coaching clients to take the VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire at www.authentichappiness.com,).

Those two strengths are the drivers behind the great research and a-ha moments that many of my writers have achieved.

Unfortunately, they’ve also caused many wild goose chases, dives into rabbit holes, and forgotten deadlines.

Take note that while love of learning and curiosity may help to define you, indeed, they may be your signature strengths, they can also derail your writing plan.  If your chosen trajectory toward finishing is important to you, you need to know when and how to reign in your curiosity.  It’s a skill worth learning.

It might be wise to ask this question of yourself: Are you meeting the deadlines you set for yourself? 

If not, then consider these suggestions:
1.  Enough’s enough. Give yourself a firm end point for research of any sort. Whether you’re reading on a big topic or looking for more information on a small fact, set a stopping point.  

2.  No more rudderless writing.  What content are you developing in this writing session?  Clarify your writing goals. To keep yourself from drifting away from your writing and into checking out ever more research, know the focus of your writing session and stick to it.  Hint:  Outlines still work!  They can keep you on track or close to it.

3. To produce text, you need destination writing.  Push to produce text—that’s the goal for you.  To do that, set a minimum of what you will deliver in a two hour session. Don’t overpromise, but promise something.

Academic and professional writers must be practical.  Your job is to write.  Time to toughen your resolve, and reign in your curiosity.

All the best,

Nancy

P.S.  Do you have a deadline in your sights?  I’d love to hear how you’re doing.  The next four weeks are critical for many writers.  If you’re interested in how you can ratchet up your productivity, check out my website at www.nancywhichard.com.

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.nancywhichard.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net
www.usingyourstrengths.com

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Curiosity is a boon to dissertation writers, except when it isn’t.

Curiosity is indeed powerful, giving us the will to explore, to persevere, and even to reach a goal.

I’ve suggested in an earlier blog (“To Enjoy Writing Your Dissertation, Use your Curiosity”) that it might be worth your while as researchers and writers to try to increase your curiosity.  Talking with someone about your work or forming a supportive alliance with a coach or a colleague will very likely engage your curiosity.

The more control you have over your work and the more engaged you feel in your work, the more likely it is that you will feel free to be curious.

But can curiosity ever be too much of a good thing?

I have noticed lately that many of my dissertation and writing clients have curiosity as either their first or second strength.  If you haven’t taken the Values in Action (VIA) Signature Strengths Questionnaire at www.authentichappiness.org, you might be interested (curious?) in discovering what your Signature Strengths are.

One terrific client with whom I talk weekly says that he can spend too much time getting “too into” something, past the point where it’s beneficial.

He gets stuck in the analysis of his data.  He can find himself running his data in a hundred different ways, rather than the couple of different ways that had been his intention.  This is a problem because he said that he knew he’d get what he needed from just those two ways.

To prevent himself from going overboard or getting too into the analysis, it seems to me that he needs to ask himself what he’d do if he had a bag of Fun-Sized Snickers staring at him within arm’s reach!  Most of us couldn’t stop at eating just 2, and so we’d have to put the bag away or we’d regret it.

Is your curiosity so strong that it almost holds you hostage, urging you to keep looking for more paths, more possibilities?  If you want to move your work forward, then you have to remove yourself from the temptation.  My client’s plan was to curb his curiosity, as best he could.  He decided he could go to a graduate computer lab and take just the results of his analysis on a flash drive. He not only committed to the plan, but he would also make it hard to back out.  He would go public and tell someone his plan.

Can your curiosity get you into trouble?  Do you sometimes have to keep your curiosity in check?  I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Spring!

My very best to you,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com
http://www.nancywhichard.com

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Curiosity is a powerful strength and is a great strength to cultivate if you are writing your dissertation.

Curiosity gives you:
• the will to explore,
• the will  to stay with an idea,
• the will to persevere,
•  the will to reach a goal,
• and it also gives you joy in the process.

If you have trouble moving into a project or if you are easily distracted, try to engage your curiosity.  Engaging your curiosity can help you get started on your writing and then can help you stick with it.

Most people are curious to some degree.  The amount or force or extent of curiosity can vary widely from person to person.  For curiosity to drive your writing or research or to empower you in your dissertation process, you might want to experiment with some possible ways to crank it up.

Researchers don’t appear ready to tell us definitively how to develop the strength of curiosity in an adult.

But since everyone is at least a little bit curious, there are steps you can take that will make it possible for your curiosity to flower.

At the top of my list as possibilities for increasing curiosity are
• increasing your autonomy,
• taking more control of a project,
• taking a risk.

Other strategies for arousing your curiosity are
• asking questions,
• having someone to talk to about your work,
• having someone to support you and give you feedback.

Asking yourself questions or working with someone who is curious and who will ask questions of you should be a first step in your effort to increase your curiosity.

If you’re interested in talking to someone about your work, let me know!  And go to my website (www.nancywhichard.com) to sign up for my Smart Tips e-newsletter.

Here’s to cranking up your curiosity!

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com
http://www.nancywhichard.com

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