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Archive for the ‘happiness’ Category

Another Monday is upon us.  If you have an office job, will you drag into work, thinking of fifteen other places you would rather be, with bed high on the list?  Re-entry into the work week is hard, but re-starting your writing no matter what day of the week wins the Resilience and Determination Litmus Test hands down.

Here are three tips for restarting your writing routine: 

1.  The shorter time since you were last writing, the easier it is to begin. If you wrote yesterday and stopped at point where you weren’t totally spent, you have something more to give to the writing today.  Stick to a scheduled writing routine.

2.  Always have three key words at the ready to guide the day’s writing session.  When you end each writing session, write down at least three key words that will spark your ideas for the next writing session.  If you do that, you will have a way to move into the writing.  Then re-entry may not be so overwhelming.

3.  Starting your day with a workout or a run will recharge your brain.  Have you heard about the schools that are now using exercise within the classroom and scheduling competitive, heavy-duty exercise early each day to awaken the kids’ brains?  Dr. Charles Hillman at the University of Illinois says that exercise is “good for attention, it’s good for how fast individuals process information, and how they perform on cognitive tasks.”

In “The Happiness Project” blog, Gretchen Rubin says that when she drops her child off at day care, she could then exercise at her conveniently located gym before going to work, but she doesn’t want to waste the morning time.  It is true that the morning is the best time to write, but exercise is never a waste of time.

For a faster restart to your writing and with less foot dragging:
 1. Write daily.
2. Write three key words at the end of each writing session to jump-start the next session.
3.  Spend 30 minutes on a treadmill or in other aerobic exercise each morning.

What about you?  What’s your plan for a smart re-start to your writing?

Best to you,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.nancywhichard.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net
www.usingyourstrengths.com
www.smarttipsforwriters.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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All good wishes to my readers, coaching clients, and many friends both here at home and around the world for a very happy and productive 2010.

My best to you,

Nancy

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Here on the East Coast of the U.S., it is snowing and snowing and blowing.  There’s no sign of  snow removal on my cul-de-sac, so it’s time to write.  How about you? I hope you’re having a good writing day.

It’s also a time for goofy emails.  A relative who can always make me laugh sent me the following 10 Tips for Holiday Eating.   

1.   Avoid carrot sticks.  Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Holiday spirit.  In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately.  Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.

2.  Drink as much eggnog as you can.  And quickly.  It’s rare. You cannot find it any other time of year but now.  So drink up!  Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip?  It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something.  It’s a treat. Enjoy it.  Have one for me.  Have two.  It’s later than you think.  It’s Christmas!

3.  If something comes with gravy, use it.  That’s the whole point of gravy.  Gravy does not stand alone.  Pour it on.  Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes.  Fill it with gravy.  Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4.  As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk.  If it’s skim, pass.  Why bother?   It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5.  Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating.  The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people’s food for free.  Lots of it.  Hello?

6.  Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s.  You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do.  This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a twelve-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7.  If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge.  Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention.  They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes.  If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.

8.  Same for pies… Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat.  Have a slice of each.  Or if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin.  Always have three.  When else do you get to have more than one dessert?  Columbus Day?

9.  Did someone mention fruitcake?  Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost.  I mean, have some standards.

10.  One final tip:  If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention.  Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. 

Have a great holiday season! 

And if today is a snow day for you, make it also a great writing day.

Smile and write.

Cheers, 

Nancy

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

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Monet set staring at his garden in Giverny, France.  A neighbor asked him when he was going to start working. Monet said that he was already working.

Later, when Monet was painting, the neighbor passed by again and said, “Oh, you’ve started working.”  To which Monet said, “No, now I’m resting.”

I don’t know if this story about Monet is true, but it suggests different points of view of how we break through to new ideas that allow us to be productive.

•    Monet may have been actively analyzing what he was seeing.  Perhaps he was planning the technique he would use once he began painting. 

•   Or perhaps he was letting go of the everyday concerns and minimizing distractions.  He may have been initially unaware of the connections his mind was making as he sat there and gazed at the light playing on the flowers.

•   But then a sudden insight could have allowed him to see the scene in a new way, allowing him to focus just on his sense of sight.  His perception of the scene piqued his curiosity and he saw a puzzle that could be solved.

Accounts from several of my clients writing dissertations and books support the fascinating, new research that has written about in newspapers and books.  This new research tells us that the unfocused mind generates striking, creative ideas and makes associations that will not come when, for example, my writing clients are at their most intent.
 
One client had been struggling for some time to get beyond merely describing her fieldwork.  Her attempts to devise an original, theoretical framework had not been successful.

To relieve her stress, she had wisely added weekly volunteer work and exercise to her schedule, as well as continuing to work on her dissertation. She came to a coaching call with me one evening excited and optimistic:  “The framework came to me as I drove home from my volunteer work today,” she said.

Making space in her day for something besides her dissertation and thus having time for her mind to be idle and to rest surely produced the insight.  And it was a sudden insight.

My client’s upbeat mood as she left her volunteer work may also have helped produce the unexpected insight.  Researchers say that a sudden insight is more likely if you are in a good mood.

Robert Lee Hotz writes in The Wall Street Journal (June 19, 2009) that Northwestern University researchers, using brain scanners and other sensors, have studied how a-ha moments take shape in our brains, even before we’re consciously aware of them.

Our brain is most active when we are the least aware of our thoughts.  At those times, connections are made from different parts of our brain, creating new frameworks and new ways of thinking.

What might this research mean for you as a writer?  How could this research help you as you’re writing your dissertation?  I’d love to hear from you.

Happy August,

Nancy

P.S.  Can write a good email? In my first newsletter of the fall, I discuss writing email and how it and other kinds of writing could be of help to the academic writer. If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, Smart Tips for Writers, go to my website and take care of that.  My website is at www.nancywhichard.com.

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

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“How would I rate my self-care this week, particularly in the area of exercise?” is one of the questions I ask my clients to think about before we have our coaching call.

Since many of my coaching clients are writers, and many of those writers are trying to find time to write a dissertation, I have a hard sell in trying to convince them to put more time into exercising.  One client says, “I just loathe ‘working out,’ especially since it uses up so much valuable time.”

And another response– “I can’t even imagine how I would enjoy adding regular exercise into my daily routine without hating every minute of it.”

To fight my own resistance to exercise, I plan my weekly schedule around exercise.  Like writing, exercise needs to be a habit.

Here are nine benefits that I have found from exercising:

1. It improves my mood.  After I exercise, it is always easier to start writing because I am in a good mood.

2.  It helps me think. My creativity is unleashed.  Ideas pop into my mind while I’m working out.

3.  It frees my mind to process ideas that I had been working on or issues that I haven’t been actively engaged with.

4.  It dissipates anxiety.  I’m always much calmer and more relaxed once I have exercised.

5.  It vents some of my meanness, allowing me to be the nice person I like to think I am.

6.  I have more energy on a daily basis if I’ve been exercising regularly.

7.  It eats calories and also helps control my eating.  Controlling my emotional eating is a great thing.

8.  It fights Alzheimer’s.  Also, if you’re thin and at one time you were a smoker, you should be exercising /lifting weights to fight osteoporosis.

9.  When I exercise with a group, I fight feelings of loneliness that are all too common with writers (and introverts). 

And here’s a bonus reason:  Rather than taking too much time, exercise actually helps me be a more productive writer.

Are you including exercise in your schedule?  How are you doing that?  I’d love to hear from you.

All the best,

Nancy

P.S.  Could exercising be one of your goals for August and September?  Email me to help put some specifics around a goal. 

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