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Archive for the ‘Happier’ Category

The Warmth in Diamonds 3a

If you’re writing a dissertation, what words would make you the happiest to hear?

Ben Shott, in Schott’s  Vocab asks  his New York Times readers what are the happiest words in the English language.  He  suggests something like  “I Do” or “The doctor can see you immediately.” 

That led me to wonder what are the happiest words for a dissertation writer.

 How about:

 –Brilliant!

 –Let’s just skip the last two chapters.  You’ve written enough.

 –Great Dissertation.  We’d like to offer you a tenure track position.

 –No revisions are necessary.

 What words would you like to hear?

Nancy

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

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You’ve made a big deadline?  Hurray for you!

If you’ve sent off a revised draft of a chapter or major chunk of your dissertation to your advisor or you’ve finished multiple revisions of an article and sent it off to a journal, pat yourself on the back, think about what comes next….

And then take some time off.  It could be two days or a week, but give yourself time to regenerate and restore your depleted resources.

Go swimming.  Read a novel.  Spend time with a friend or your partner.

Afraid that you will hide out when it’s time to get back into action?  Then put a few things in place to help you get back o.k.

Here are four tips to help you make an easier reentry:

1. Mark your calendars for the day and the time you will be back at work. Make the start time as important as a departure time would be for you if you had a flight scheduled that day. Plan to do your laundry or check your email much earlier or much, much later, but not at the time you are restarting your writing.

2. Clarify the first steps.  Determine some specifics on what to do that first day back at work. Why bother to set a date to start, if you sabotage yourself by having no plan? 
 
3. Learn from the past.  If you are a bit monkey-brained as you think about planning your first steps after you return, free-write now for five minutes about what you have learned from the work you’ve just completed, learning that you will put into play for the next section or chapter or writing project.

4. Put your plans where you can’t miss them.  Situate the plans to be the first things you see when you turn on your computer or print them out so they’re physically in the middle of your clean desk.
 
You deserve a guilt-free break.  Mark your calendars and publicize the day and time you’ll be back at work. Put your plans for your first steps after you return in plain sight. A small price for a guilt-free break!

I would love to hear how you make a break part of your writing process.

Until next time,

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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Are you worried about losing your momentum while you’re on vacation?  But does working on your dissertation while vacationing seem depressing?

Actually, writing while you’re on vacation may be easier and more pleasant than you think.

Vacation will make you feel happier and livelier.  Since it’s easier to write when you’re happy, you may be surprised at how normal and uncomplicated it is to take a peek now and then at your dissertation while you’re on vacation.

Here are 5 tips to help you maintain your writing momentum and still enjoy your vacation.

1.  Plan ahead before leaving home.  Have a list of modest writing tasks that you can do on vacation.

2. Make use of small chunks of time.  You can’t find one quiet hour each day away from the family while vacationing?  Then claim 25 minutes every day or two for your writing.

3.  Use the different location and break in your routine to your advantage.   Writing in a hotel room or on a balcony looking toward the mountains is not your usual ho-hum, one-more-day- at- the- library approach.  Get up while others are still snoozing and write for a bit.  Take a legal pad and a pen and walk to a bench in a quiet area.

4.  Balance is possible.  Approach each day well rested, exercise, eat well, and give yourself permission to see that your writing project is part of your life, not your whole life.  

5.  Anticipate the unexpected.  Your marvelous brain can spontaneously give you ideas, right out of the blue.  Dissertation coaching clients tell me of breakthroughs they have had when they were on vacation or when they have changed their routine.  Jogging, swimming, staring into space—you never know when an idea might hit! 

Now that’s a great vacation.

All good wishes,

Nancy
P.S. There’s an added bonus to working 25 minutes on your dissertation every day or two while you’re on vacation:  Restarting your daily writing habit when you get home will be much easier.

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

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If your goal is to finish your dissertation during this new year of 2010, be bold, be optimistic, and persevere.

Positive psychologists for several years have said that the strengths most important for happiness are curiosity, optimism, gratitude, zest, and loving and being loved.

My experience as a dissertation and writing coach tells me that perseverance is a predictor of successful writing. Even if interest in a topic wanes or times get hard, perseverance, mental toughness, or grit keeps the writer writing. 

Frequently ABD’s resist a self-assessment that suggests they have perseverance as a strength.  But there are ways to build perseverance.

Leveraging the strengths of boldness and optimism can help ABD’s acknowledge or access their strength of perseverance.

If ABD’s or other writers recognize situations where they have been bold in the past and identify current opportunities for boldness, they can also generate optimism.  With boldness and optimism, ABD’s can refute the self-sabotaging belief that they lack the necessary perseverance to finish the dissertation process.  

Adding boldness and optimism to perseverance is a wining combination.  These strengths hold the answer to the question: What do I need in order to be a successful writer?

Where can you be audacious and bold? 

• Start with your writing goals – both long-term for 2010 and short-term for this week and this month.  Commit to a reasonable goal for the next two weeks.
• Draw boundaries to protect your writing time.
• Revitalize your relationship with your advisor.
• Invest in a dissertation coach.

Where will you move out of your comfort zone for the sake of your writing?

All good wishes for a very productive and happy 2010,

Nancy

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

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How would you like to make 20 percent more progress on your dissertation than you’re now making?

Bob Emmons, professor at the University of California, Davis, has found that having a grateful attitude can make that possible.

The author of Thanks!  How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Prof. Emmons has made amazing research findings about living gratefully, but perhaps the most intriguing has to do with goal achievement.  He sees a positive relationship between gratitude and goal achievement.

In a study with participants equally divided between a gratitude condition and a non-gratitude condition, Prof. Emmons says that participants in the gratitude condition made 20 percent more progress toward their goals than did the other group.  In addition, the participants in the gratitude condition were more motivated to continue working than were the participants in the other group.

As writers, we look for ways to make our hard job easier.  We persevere.  We call on our courage.  We apply hints and strategies to increase our creativity and our motivation.  We take note of what works for us and try to repeat the pattern in order to get that momentum rolling.

Researchers have told us that if we can generate a somewhat happy frame of mind, starting our writing and sticking with it will be easier.  It makes sense, I think, that if we want to induce a relatively happy or calm frame of mind, we can choose to be grateful to someone for something.

This week two of my dissertation clients described the struggles they individually are having with their work.  One feels that her advisor has given discouraging feedback.  The other client procrastinates and resists writing.

Yet, in contrast to the mood each had when describing the struggles, they both had a hopeful confidence in their voices as they expressed the gratitude they feel toward their spouses.  The spouses read the dissertation drafts of my clients.

I don’t know if these two clients can make 20 percent more progress in their dissertation writing than they would have had their spouses not helped them.  But I was struck by the change in mood as they spoke of their gratitude.

I’m curious to hear what you think.  Would you be interested to hear more about Prof. Emmons’s studies in gratitude?  Would you be willing to try some gratitude interventions yourself?

Until next time,

Nancy
Your International Dissertation Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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Writing is easier when you’re in a good mood. 

Researchers say that if you can generate a somewhat happy frame of mind, starting your writing and sticking with it will be easier.

So what can you do to bring about a happier mood?   Listen to some music!

Music is powerful.  Research supports claims that not only can music decrease depression and improve your mood, but it can also improve focus and memory.  It has even been shown to reduce chronic pain. 

The kind of music writers prefer varies wildly.  Many writers like popular music that cranks them up—invigorates them and gets the juices flowing.

Or classical music, with expansive, stirring orchestration.

Maybe you’re like me and sometimes want music that takes you to a quiet place in your mind where you can push everything else aside.

How about old movie musicals?—do you feel a lift when you hear “Seventy-Six Trombones” from The Music Man  or “The Hills Are Alive” from The Sound of Music?

What music invigorates you, helps you focus, induces a good mood, or perhaps brings to mind that person or those people who support you in your dissertation process?

I feel a surge of happiness when I hear my favorite oldies, such as “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash.  When I hear the refrain, “Look all around, there’s nothing but blue skies/ Look straight ahead, there’s nothing but blue skies,” I feel my shoulders relax as I take in a deep breath. I feel hopeful.  You can hear Nash sing this song at You Tube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPKpmN1EJ_c

Recently I happened to see Carole King on TV singing “You’ve Got a Friend.”

For the past week, I’ve spent a few minutes almost daily at You Tube, listening to “You’ve Got a Friend” and watching snippets from different performances over the years in which Carole King sang this song that she wrote it in the ‘70s.

“You’ve Got a Friend”  reminds me of how much people matter and how important support is during the dissertation writing process.  Hearing the song puts me in a calm, centered place, and I’m ready to write.

If you haven’t heard Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” lately, here are two different versions on You Tube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_L4epGowZU&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6r1175w_lM

“You’ve Got a Friend”
Lyrics and Music: Carole King

When you’re down and troubled
And you need some loving care
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
You’ve got a friend

If the sky above you
Grows dark and full of clouds
And that old north wind begins to blow
Keep your head together
And call my name out loud
Soon you’ll hear me knocking at your door

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running to see you
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there

Ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend
When people can be so cold
They’ll hurt you, and desert you
And take your soul if you let them
Oh, but don’t you let them

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
You’ve got a friend

What music are you listening to?  What moves you to write?

I’d love to hear from you.  I’d also like to send you my free e-newsletter.  Please sign up at my website (www.nwcoaching.com).

Until later,

Nancy
www.nwcoaching.com
 

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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.

At my website I  offer a free newsletter. I invite you to sign up for it and let me know what you think.

Until next time,
Nancy
www.nwcoaching.com
 

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