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Archive for the ‘hope’ Category

Recently a dissertation coaching client said she had made a choice which would give her more time.  That choice reminded me of Found Money. 

 

You know what Found Money is, right? 

 

 

Here’s an example:

 

I bought a pack of those special money envelopes that are in the card racks at Christmastime, and about 10 days before Christmas, I sent my nieces and nephews cash as their gift.

 

I had two or three envelopes left over, so I put them in a drawer.

 

Closer to Christmas, I took out those extra envelopes and, guess what, there was cash in one of them.  Yikes, could I have sent an empty envelope to one of the kids? How else would I have an envelope with money in it?  Favorite Aunt Status is at stake. 

 

After a hurried call to the mothers, I was reassured that no, all children had received cash from me.

 

I felt a little silly that somehow I had put money in an extra envelope. 

 

But the good news was that now I had Found Money.

 

 

 

As someone said to me, “Is there anything better than Found Money, especially at Christmastime?” 

 

 

 

Recently what reminded me of Found Money was that my client said she now she had more time.

 

How is the Found Time showing up in your writing schedule, I asked.  Hmm, not sure, she said. 

 

At Christmas I had spent the Found Money, even though it wasn’t a fortune, on something that I knew no one else would get me.  Something that I could remember that I had done for myself –sort of like buying my own Cupcake.  And it had come from the Found Money that I could have stuck in my billfold and frittered away on groceries. 

 And so here’s my take on Found Time and saying no: 

·        Once you say NO to something, you will immediately have more time. 

·        When you get more time, it feels like an unexpected gift that you can use any way you want to.

 

Something of value has opened up to you—how do you want to spend it?

·        Spend that Found Time where it will make a big impact.

·        Work on your dissertation during the very time that you would have been doing that old commitment.

·        Smile when you think how close you came to frittering away Found Time.

 

More time gives you hope, and hope gives you momentum and drive.  

 

Found Time or Found Money—which is of more value to you?  I’m guessing Found Time.  Use it or lose it.

 

Happy writing!

 

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC

Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach

http://www.dissertationbootcamp.net

http://www.smarttipsforwriters.com

nancy @ nancywhichard.com

 

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A little after noon on Sunday as I was driving  to the Regional Post Office, which is open on Sundays, I turned on NPR radio and happened upon Garrison Keillor, telling one of his yarns on “Prairie Home Companion.”

Even though I enjoy Garrison Keillor’s humor, I immediately felt weepy.

On far too many Sunday afternoons a number of years ago, I would leave my home and my family and head to my office where I would work on my dissertation.  Each Sunday during that drive I listened to Garrison Keillor.  While I don’t regret putting in the hard work it took to finish the dissertation, it came at a cost.

While Keillor’s voice triggers some sad memories and brings up conflicts that I had to deal with as a parent and a wife, I’m also struck by the quickness of the unexpected, forgotten connection.  Our past can rush to meet us triggered by the briefest of sounds.  Or a new idea can occur to us at the confluence of a setting, a sound, and a memory.

That possibility of a sudden memory or an insight and, unlikely as it seems, sadness that can turn to hope through reframing reminded me of a client who is attempting to write a novel.  After having worked at it for quite a while, she feels as if she has nothing new to give to the project.  And she’s slipping into a stuck place where nothing stirs her.

To get unstuck, we may have to open ourselves to memories, to the unexpected, to the coming together of past and present.  Or we may have to break our routine and try something different.

I might have generated more ideas for  my dissertation and then have been a more lively and efficient writer had I given myself permission occasionally to stay at home on Sunday afternoons, or  if as a family, we had gone somewhere together on more of those days.

To generate ideas, consider making a break in your routine:
1. Take a walk or go for a jog.
2.   Go to the library or a coffee shop.
3.  If funds permit, take your laptop and check into a hotel.
4.  Trade houses or apartments with someone.
5.  House-sit for a week or two for a friend.
6.  Change the scenery—go to the zoo or to a park.
7.  Awaken your senses– surprise yourself with something different on the radio or buy a new kind of coffee or tea.
8.  Remind yourself of a time when you were bold or brave or when you did something difficult.

Sometimes writing and meeting deadlines need more than perseverance.

All good wishes,

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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Writing a dissertation is full of black holes that can swallow you up.

Boldness allows you to embrace hope and can make the impossible seem possible.

In the short story “Incoming Tide,” Pulitzer Prize winning writer Elizabeth Strout captures the essence of what might result from the interplay of boldness, hope, and perseverance.

“Incoming Tide,” from Strout’s collection entitled Olive Kitteridge, is told from the point of view of a young doctor, who has never recovered emotionally from a tragedy in his family.  He has returned to the town where he lived as a child. 

It’s clear that he plans to end his life.

But first he encounters a former teacher whose company and meandering conversation delays his plan and then at her urging, he’s called to do something bold.

The bold rescue of someone else also rescues him:  “he thought he would like the moment to be forever…Look how she wanted to live, look how she wanted to hold on.”

Consider the power of boldness.

You might need someone who believes in you and knows what you can do in order for you to do something bold.  You might have to be pushed.

You might even be avoiding doing something bold because you know that it could very likely lead to your feeling hopeful.  Once you let in some hope, then who knows what you might have to do! 

And what promises do you have that even with hope, you’ll reach your goal?

But it’s worth the gamble.  Once you have hope, perseverance becomes much easier.

Have you read “Incoming Tide”?

What have you read or what has occurred that inspires you to be bold?
I’d love to hear from you.

New Year’s Greetings,

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

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Georgetown University Professor Deborah Tannen writes about the supportive relationship she has with her two sisters.

In the Sept. 6, 2009 Washington Post, Tannen says that she sends them her manuscripts for their comments and once a book is published, she waits eagerly, yet nervously, for their response.

After reading a draft and sending Deborah Tannen some comments, one of her sisters also followed up with an email saying, “Stop reading this, and go back to writing your book.  Love, Mim.”

Professor Tannen says that she has posted that email over her writing desk, and the words continue to support her and help keep her on task.
 
I’ve always missed having a sister, but I know there are many other ways to have that same kind of support.

A client told me recently how anxious she had been about sending a draft to her advisor, but the kind, encouraging words as well as the constructive comments that accompanied the draft when the advisor sent it back buoyed my client and gave her the will to jump back into her work.

My dissertation coaching convinces me of the support writers need.  Often, in coaching I ask my clients to talk through what they are going to write when they get off of the phone with me.  Rehearsing the writing clarifies my client’s ideas and also engages my clients, reminding them of why they wanted to write about this particular idea and reassuring them that they do know what they will do next.

Frequently, clients also give me something in return.  After asking questions that helped a client become enthusiastic and self-confident about the immediate task ahead, she said, “I’m so glad I work with you.” 

I may not have a sister who sends me emails that I can post on my coaching table, but I did write down that comment and I put it where I can see it every day.

A blog post entitled “Instant mood lifter:  thank someone for a job well done”  (June 24, 2009) by the very successful Escape from Cubicle Nation blogger Pamela Slim revealed that she was moved to tears by receiving kind, thoughtful praise via a tweet.  Just goes to show you, doesn’t it? 

She said, “Kindness is not a little thing.  It is not fluffy, unicorn and rainbow coachy stuff.  Kindness heals.”

Have you told anyone recently that you appreciate their help or sent someone hard at work on a big and stressful project a supportive email?  It’s a wonderful thing to do. 

Have a great week.

All good wishes,

Nancy

P.S. I appreciate your reading my blog.  It means a great deal to me.  And I always appreciate your comments.

P.S.S.  Smart Tips for Writers, my online newsletter, goes out this week.  Register today at my website:  www.nancywhichard.com.

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

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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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Over the past week two different people, both of whom are approximately 32, seemed surprised that I had heard of the singing group Coldplay.

The frenetic marketing of Coldplay’s new record would make it hard not to have heard of them.  To dig up a little more on Coldplay, I turned to YouTube. I found several of their pieces that I liked,
and I also liked some of what I heard in an interview with Coldplay’s Chris Martin.

Hearing Chris Martin talk about the hours he works and his creative process also led me to think of other ways people generate ideas for their writing.

1.  Seat Time – Put the Hours in
In an interview on the Charlie Rose show, Chris Martin was surprised to be asked where he gets his ideas for the words and music of his songs.  Martin confessed that he, like most composers and writers, doesn’t know where his ideas for music and lyrics come from.  He said, “I just sit and play and play and play.   I never know where a song comes from.  It’s time.   I just put the hours in.”

2.  Structure Fairy
Sometimes even if you put in the hours in the style of Chris Martin, you still may not feel in flow or feel that you have a good idea for your writing.

A couple of people have told me that they put in the hours– they both work and work, but all too frequently they stall.  They come to an impasse. However, after sleeping on the problem and awakening the next morning, the solution frequently comes to them.

One coach friend is a brilliant writer but nevertheless struggles to make her writing brilliant.  Since problems with structuring her ideas frequently bring her writing to a halt, she is delighted at the “arrival” of a solution.  She says that after a long work session that has not yielded her what she wants, she leaves the work until morning.  While she sleeps, oftentimes the Structure Fairy visits her.

I don’t argue with fairies or leprechauns, but I humbly suggest that our wonderful brains can give us marvelous gifts when we move away from a trying project and use a different part of our brain or if we exercise or if we just get a good night’s sleep.

3.  Behavioral Economics
What if you almost or actually hate the project you’re working on, and there are no fairies coming to your rescue?

A client told me that a friend of his once put a large sum of money on a roommate’s desk and said, “If I don’t finish this chapter of my thesis, this money is yours.”

My client also said that if you are unable to meet your goal, established websites are in business to help you threaten yourself.  You can give someone $1,000 at one of these websites, and if you don’t meet your goal, the company gets to keep the money.

I’ve heard a similar kind of pact, in which you give a significant amount of money to someone, and tell that person your announced goal—a specific, measureable goal– and when you will reach it. If you reach your goal, the money goes to the political candidate of your choice.  If you don’t reach your goal… yep, you got it… the money goes to the opposing candidate.  I first heard of this idea years ago, and the threat was that if you didn’t meet your goal, your money would to go to Jesse Helms, now deceased, but who at one time was a very conservative senator.

Every day we have a narrative, and every day we talk our selves through our day.  But sometimes talk doesn’t work, and we have to take an extreme action to jolt ourselves into action.

Fear of failure can scare most of us into action; however, if you promise yourself a reward for achieving a goal or if you make an effort to be optimistic and work to feel positive about reaching your goal, you are more likely to be successful.

Hoping you’re putting in the hours—

Nancy
Your International Dissertation Coach
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.nancywhichard.com

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One of the top 5 strengths that many of my dissertation clients share is curiosity.

It’s not surprising that motivated, high-achieving academic people would have curiosity as a top strength.

And as you write a dissertation and live your life, the benefits of curiosity are many. For one thing, curiosity is among those specific strengths which are most likely to make for a happy life.  Positive Psychologist Chris Peterson has found that along with gratitude, zest, hope, and capacity to love, curiosity is one of the strengths most closely related to greatest life satisfaction.  It has also been found in at least one study to be associated with a long life.

So what else can this wonderful strength do for you?

Assuaging your curiosity has its own built-in reward.  It is fulfilling.

Another way that curiosity rewards you for the effort is that the resulting learning usually produces more curiosity.  Knowing that there is more to learn or that you don’t know everything yet can induce greater curiosity.

If curiosity is one of your top strengths and you are using that strength, you know how excited and engaged you are when you are satisfying your curiosity or in a state of curiosity.  One of my clients used the word “joy” to describe the feeling when he is in this state.

What would you be willing to do to experience joy as you’re researching or writing your dissertation?

How are you feeling about your dissertation?

I’d love to hear from you.  I’d also love to send you my Smart Tips e-newsletter.  Go to my website at www.nancywhichard.com to sign up.

Until next time, unleash your curiosity!

Happy writing,

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

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