Archive for the ‘grateful’ Category

“ABD” is not a credential.  It isn’t a degree.  All things considered, finishing your dissertation is probably the smart thing to do.

It can help you get a job or keep the one you have.  Even if you aren’t going into the academic job market, for now, you may be surprised what a PhD can do for you on down the road somewhere.

Furthermore, sticking with your dissertation may give you the chance to learn something –quite a bit of something – that you didn’t know before.  It’s easy to disregard the dissertation process as a time for learning since the emphasis is on finishing and moving on.  

During the dissertation process, you may be fortunate enough to learn:
•  How to take care of yourself physically and emotionally so that you don’t sabotage your success
• How to understand fully that you have every right to the success you’re achieving
• How to take risks and to be bold in the writing process even though you’re scared
• How to recognize when you need help and to ask for it
• How to be clear-headed and reasonable even if your advisor is not clear-headed or reasonable
• How to write during whatever time, big or small, that you have
• How to find your way and to keep moving toward a big, difficult goal
• How to feel grateful for
       –the progress you are able to make
       –the opportunity to earn a PhD
       –an advisor who does his/her best to help you

All good wishes,


Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach


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By now, you’ve probably heard that Randy Pausch died Friday at the age of 47.

Though known in the field of computer science, he had gained world-wide fame from his wise, clever “last lecture” at Carnegie Mellon in the fall of 2007.  At that time he had been told that because of aggressive pancreatic cancer, he had only months to live.

I remember being moved six months ago when I first listened to a recording of the lecture, but as I listened to it again today, I was struck by the character strengths he exhibited and also by what a model he was and is for academics– professors and students.

His work in virtual reality gave him the opportunity to use what must have been his signature strengths: creativity, love of learning, curiosity, and humor and playfulness.  And his funny and insightful lecture showed him using those strengths to the fullest.

As important as the strengths of creativity and curiosity are, he also valued and used his strengths of perseverance, loyalty, gratitude, and love.  He wanted his students and his children to remember how hard he worked and how he persevered to try new things.

He preached loyalty, and his own life was exemplary in loyalty, gratitude, and love. His family mattered, his students mattered, and his friends and colleagues mattered.

He had learned from a football coach that the way to show interest and caring is to stick with a student, giving constructive criticism and advice, and asking the student to work harder.  He was grateful for those who had helped him as a youth and as a junior academic, and that gratitude gave him the desire to be loyal and generous with help to his own students.

Chris Peterson, who first brought Randy Pausch’s lecture to many people, recently wrote in his blog “The Good Life” that Pausch gave us a compelling example of an actual person who lived life well: “I watched his last lecture wearing many hats. As a teacher, I was inspired. As a lecturer, I was filled with admiration. As a human being, I was proud.”

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I asked one of my dissertation coaching clients if he planned to make any resolutions for the New Year.

He said, “I make changes throughout the year.”

He has a long-term plan in place and makes changes as needed.  What great planning!

If you also have a plan in place that is working for you, congratulations!  Keep it going.

But for most of us, even if our writing plan or dissertation plan is working, some midstream adjustments might be needed.

We need all sorts of support and reminders to keep the action going.

As you consider making resolutions for 2008, consider first where change would be the most effective and then how you could put a few check points in place.

Here are 5 tips to make sure this year’s plan is solid and well supported:

1. Make a list of the areas of your dissertation where you have control.

2. Check where you could fine-tune those areas. Which are priorities?  Which can you let go of for now?

3.  What one aspect of your dissertation process have you been avoiding? Pivotal changes usually come from small steps.

4.  Buddy up with a resolute partner.  Who do you know who is determined to finish a writing project or to help you finish?  What are you waiting for?

5.  Put check points in place, such as weekly calls, a timetable for submitting work, or notes to yourself in your calendar.  Anticipate times where you think you’ll have challenges.  Every two months or every three months?  Every week?

Sometimes the work becomes a bit bogged down and without clear check points in place, we miss (or avoid) looking at what adjustments are needed.

Resolutions are terrific, but we need added measures in place to keep us honest.

We all mean well, but, heck, we’re human.  If there’s a way out or a way to slow down, we’ll probably take that route.

But not this year!

All good wishes, with hope and gratitude thrown in, too.  Let me know if I can help.  Here’s wishing you a happy and productive 2008.

Your Dissertation Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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1. What is the key to perseverance?
 Getting started is the key.
 The first step is the hardest.  Sit down and then stay there.

2. What is sending you right over the edge? 
 You are– Catastrophizing only raises your blood pressure.
 Who needs the drama?
 Remember: Catastrophizing is just another form of procrastination. 

3. Who could work at a desk stacked so high that you can’t see the computer screen?
 Decluttering is a terrific focusing mechanism.
 Just don’t get carried away with it—we’re talking desk top, one surface.

4. Even if you get going, something seems to stop you. 
 Ever hear of a momentum-breaker? 
 It’s usually something you do to yourself, when you’re at your self-sabotaging best.

5. How did creativity get to be #24 in your list of strengths? 
 Oops—time to try a new approach.  Give yourself a moment to let your mind wander—in the grocery  store line or driving to take care of an errand.  Turn the radio off and let your mind do what it loves to  do for a bit.

6. How can you write when you’re feeling so mean?
 So you didn’t have a great holiday.  Or you don’t want to go back to writing after having a great  holiday.  Meanness is uncalled for.  Time to practice gratitude and empty that mean-spiritedness before it really gets in your way.  What do you have to be grateful for? 

7.  Think how irritated you will be with yourself next week if you goof off all of this week. 

8.  Bonus Tip:  Go my website (www.nwcoaching.com) and sign up for my Smart Tips newsletter. I have  something you can use!

Until next time,

 P.S.  Get in touch with me–what would help you move into action?

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Have you given yourself until, say, tonight or tomorrow to write and then your plan is to take a break, send the thing off, go on a holiday? 

Time to take stock. 

Stop and breathe.

Where are you in the process?  You’ve put in time, you’ve written some, and you have a bit more to do. 

This isn’t the time to kick yourself for not having done more. 

This is the time to be grateful—grateful that you were able to do whatever amount of work you’ve done.  Grateful that you’re still at it, that you haven’t been derailed, that it hasn’t been as bad as it could have been. 

Don’t take for granted what you have accomplished. 

Being grateful—actually practicing gratitude– gives you courage and can make hope possible. 

Gratitude generates hope.

Did you ever see that movie Hope Floats?  No excuses from me for liking the film—I know it’s sappy and, yes, Sandra Bullock has a brief scene in which she wears a cheerleader’s costume and leads a cheer. 

Slip off that critical perch—no smirks now. I confess that I like the line that Sandra Bullock’s character says about hope:  “Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will.” 

Keep that gratitude going.  You might not recognize hope, but I’ll bet you it’s there, mixed in with the gratitude.  Lots of power in gratitude and hope that can fuel you to your deadline or planned stopping point.

Take a breath.  Add a smile for the heck of it…and jump back in.

Until next time,

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Running late.  Seasonal distractions.  Time-starved.  I don’t like these feelings,
but everywhere I go, there they are.

This morning I was buying chocolate Santas at a German gourmet bakery. And,
as usual, I was running late.  Distracted.  Way late in all that I needed
 to do for my work and for the holiday.

As my stuff was being tallied, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a sack of pfeffernuesse. 

I love those cookies, and out of my mouth popped the words, “don’t forget these.” I grabbed the sack and pushed them toward the clerk.

The man behind me in the line, who actually had chosen those lovely, packaged German cookies, was clearly taken aback.  O.k., I was going to say that he nearly slapped my hand.  But he was a little bit short with me.  Chagrined, I escaped to my car, which, of course, appeared to be blocked by another car.  Grrr

Self, I said, “Time to practice gratitude!”  Prof. Emmons would have approved.

Since reading Thanks!  How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, by Robert A. Emmons, I have found that when I am in a place  of overwhelm or frustration, I can deflect my negative emotions by thinking what  I have to be grateful for.

Sounds kind of goofy, but it works.  I felt grateful that the people behind the counter were very gracious when I grabbed the cookies.

They smiled. 

So how about you–try it, o.k.?  Are you feeling a bit harried? How might grateful emotions help you?

When you’re in the midst of a meltdown, it may be hard to even bring  up something to be grateful for.

This may take a minute or two.  If nothing immediately comes to mind,  just stick with it.  Start a list.  Lists are good.

After you get one or two things (Good coffee this morning?  Yummy doughnut? A sweet smile from someone you love?),  more will come.

How about thinking about how things have been worse in your life? Are you glad  that whatever that awful situation was, it is no more?  Life is a  tad better than at some previous time? Yeah!  Gratitude!

By allowing myself to remember what I have to be grateful for, I can wheel myself around, right out of a cranky, crappy emotion. I have a choice. I have control here.

The added benefit—and this is important, so take note! — is that I can take the next step, keep going, continue with a task.

Here’s my challenge to you:  If you’re writing and you feel like throwing your keyboard against the wall, take a deep breath, get up, and will yourself to feel grateful about something. 

Please let me know if you take this challenge.  How did it work?

Also, I have a great gift for you– go my website (www.nwcoaching.com) and sign up for my newsletter.  I have something you can use!
Until next time,

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It’s a given that Thanksgiving and being grateful go together. 

But in Thanks!  How the new science of gratitude can make you happier, Robert A. Emmons goes beyond the commonplace notions on gratitude. 

•   Gratitude is acknowledging the help someone else has given us.
•   In spite of the difficulty and frustration we may experience in our writing or the pain and suffering we may see in the world, gratitude acknowledges that there is decency and goodness in the world.

Cultivating gratitude can make for major changes for the better in your life.

Since we can resist doing something that’s good for us, like practicing gratitude, Emmons gives us “evidence-based prescriptions” that will help us cultivate gratitude.

In future posts, I’ll add to this list of prescriptions.  For now, here are three that Emmons suggests:

1. Remind yourself daily of what has come your way and given you pleasure.  Keep a daily journal.

2.  Remind yourself of how much worse life could be or has been in the past.  What you have is better than that!

3.  Partner up for accountability– gratitude won’t be easy to maintain.

Reminder:  We can more easily tap into our creativity and then maintain focus when we are in a pleasant or mildly happy mood.  A grateful mindset improves your mood and blocks self-sabotaging emotions. 

More to come on gratitude.

For other tips about writing, please visit my website (www.nwcoaching.com) and sign up for my newsletter.
Until next time,

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