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Archive for the ‘top strengths’ Category

New Year’s Day is one of the few holidays that much of the world celebrates. Today, on New Year’s Day, we celebrate the possibility of starting afresh and of having second chances, but more even than that, we honor structure and accountability.

New Year’s Day not only structures our lives into one year after another, but it also divides each  year into twelve months and beyond, easing the work of record-keeping and accountability into manageable chunks. Around the world, most government offices and banks are closed today on our jointly celebrated New Year’s Day. It may be the only day when all of the world’s financial markets are closed.

To emphasize that today is the day to step back for a broader perspective on key aspects of our lives, we use business metaphors to show our belief that because of today, change will be easier to accomplish. We say that we can now close the books on some task or challenge, or, if need be, we may even give ourselves permission to wipe the slate clean and start anew.

Now if you were, say, a fox, one day would be like all the others, but since you’re not a fox, you are probably finding a moment or two today to reflect on how your year has gone. You may also be giving some thought to what you can do differently for a better outcome. And since you are knowingly or unknowingly celebrating the ritual of planning, as well as that of record keeping, perhaps you are considering what will be your first step in making 2014 a better year than 2013.

It’s hard to miss that wonderful spirit of hope that’s in the air today. We watched the fireworks in Dubai and in Sydney and in London and in New York.  In spite of everything this year, hope is still possible. In our individual lives, we get another chance to do and be better in big and small ways. 

English: New Year fireworks at the London Eye

The fireworks can’t be just smoke and noise, but rather a celebration of the individual strengths that we each call upon to help us be accountable in moving day by day toward accomplishing what we hold important.

Today is the chance for a fresh start, the opportunity to do better, to show up and work.

After you put writing high on your list of priorities for this New Year, then what comes next?  What’s the plan?

Make 2014 your year.

Happy New Year!

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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“Severe storms forecast for region.” “Forecasters say large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes are possible.”

Living the first 24 years of my life in the American Midwest gave me a healthy respect for storms and especially for tornadoes. The tiny town where my grandmother grew up was leveled by such a storm and that storm is now part of a frequently repeated family story.

When I moved to the East Coast, I thought or hoped that I was out of the reach of such storms, but such is not the case.

We’ve had many bad storms in the Washington, DC area, but last summer’s derecho, a straight-line wind storm, dealt a particularly strong blow to much of our area. Today another derecho or some type of severe storm is on its way.

Many local people are preparing for the strong possibility of an extended power outage by buying a generator. Others are stock up on ice for coolers. One dissertation coaching client told me this morning that she is concerned by the shelter-in-place plans at her place of work and is thinking through alternative locations.

Such a storm gives us the opportunity to decide where we need to place our focus for a specific situation. For instance, we can use what we have learned from past experience with storms as well as what others who have been hit recently by bad storms have advised.

Choosing an appropriate focus gives us the chance to

— recall what we have learned from past experiences,

— clarify our choices,

— make use of the strengths and skills best suited to a chosen focus,

—and be in the moment.

Whether you are writing a dissertation, encountering daily stress in your workplace, or dealing with an on-coming wind storm, the way you focus your attention is critical.

What do you think is critical to your successfully navigating a dangerous storm, whether that storm is literal or figurative?

And if the storm peters out? That’s the best you could have hoped for.  Plus, you have gained practice and muscle for the next big thing.

All good wishes to you,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC

Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach

www.nancywhichard.com

www.smarttipsforwriters.com

www.successfuldissertationwriting.com

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When you’re writing a dissertation, it’s likely that you’ll feel isolated.  Many dissertators say how much they long to be back at the university where they could talk with their peers about their ideas and their writing.

Too often the isolated dissertation writer feels less than excited about the writing.  And productivity suffers.

Talking with others helps you to bounce back when you’re feeling down.  But sometimes you think that only others who are in the same situation can empathize with you.

You may avoid the people with whom you could have contact because you think they wouldn’t want to talk about your writing.  You may be right.  But you may have other things in common.

  • Someone with whom you enjoy sharing lunch or talking to about the kids or the football game or the  3K race coming up Sunday
  •  Someone with whom you can compare prices and benefits of one gym over another
  •  Someone to whom you can reveal your less-than-complete knowledge or understanding of a product or the way your car works

Positive Psychology researchers contend that one of the most important ways to improve one’s job satisfaction is by having a friend at work.  Similarly, when you’re struggling with a dissertation, having a friend to chat with can give you a boost and improve the way you look at your job as a writer.

Having a friend helps to bring out the best in you. If you feel that someone recognizes your worth as a person and also shares some of your values, you will probably feel more confident in exercising your strengths and talents.

The more you can use your strengths, the more likely it is that you will feel more resilient about your writing.  And resilience brings greater productivity.

When you’re feeling alone or perhaps that the world is against you, look around for a friend.  Aristotle said, “The antidote for 50 enemies is one friend.”

I’m curious whether you think it would be worth your time to cultivate a friend.  I’d love to hear what you think.
Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC

Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach

www.smarttipsforwriters.com

http://www.dissertationbootcamp.net

http://www.nancywhichard.com

nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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Is a non-negotiable deadline closing in on you?  Has it been set by your university?  Or is a job – perhaps a postdoc– resting on your finishing your dissertation soon?

As you struggle to meet the deadline, it can feel as if you are barreling downhill on an icy, bumpy slope.  And you fear that at any second you could be thrown violently off course.

It’s easy to fall victim to fears of not meeting a deadline and fears of success and the future.  To meet the deadline and finish, you have to be almost counter intuitive.  You have to keep skiing or skating into the jaws of danger, no swerving, no hanging back, no delaying.

The desire, courage, tenacity, mental toughness, and resilience of the athletes of the Winter Olympics are studies in relief of what a writer needs in order to finish a dissertation sooner rather than later.

Even the boldest of Olympians speak of their fears about performing and competing.  From Russia’s skating superstar Evgeni Plushenko to the U.S. Men’s Half-Piper Gold Medal Winner Shaun White, they speak of the need to get into their routines before being sabotaged by their nerves and fears.  

For you to finish your writing in a timely way, rather than fall along the wayside, means that you must move quickly into a writing routine. You also need to have in place a careful, specific timeline and a detailed writing plan that you follow religiously.
 
Evan Lysacek, the winner of the gold for the Men’s Figure Skating, planned each minute of his performance for maximum points. 

Similarly, to finish your dissertation, you must be as strategic, practical, and savvy as Lysacek.  Know the requirements and expectations of those who will review your work.  Factor those requirements and expectations into your goals and timeline.

Your work is every bit as important to you as winning is to an Olympian athlete. Be smart.

Smart Strategies:
1.  Plan a timeline and writing schedule.
2.  Move quickly into a daily writing routine.
3.  Break out the outline and follow it.
4.  Stay in the moment and focus. 
5.  Use your character strengths. Put your desire, courage, tenacity, mental toughness, and resilience into action.

The dissertation is yours to finish– plan, stay in the moment, and practice resilience.

All good wishes,

Nancy

P.S.  My February newsletter is being emailed.  Last Call to sign up—go to www.smarttipsforwriters.com

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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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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When I’ve asked a dissertation coaching client if he or she would look at a problem through a lens of gratitude, I am first of all surprised at what I had just blurted out and I wonder what the client will say.  Secondly, I’m surprised at how almost immediately the client slows down, lets go of some anxiety around the writing process or the relationship with his or her advisor, and becomes thoughtful. 

The answer almost always reveals that the writer is considering a new way of looking at a problem.

Showing gratitude is a character strength that could take a bit more practice.  Our busy, stressful lives may give us little time or inclination to acknowledge the huge role others play in our lives. 

As we in the U.S. celebrate Thanksgiving this week, consider thanking someone who has been of help to you.

As for me, I thank you for reading my blog.  It’s good to know that you’re here.

With gratitude,

Nancy
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.nancywhichard.com
website: www.nancywhichard.com
blog: www.successfulwritingtips.com

 

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How often have you felt close to giving up completely on your dissertation?

I hear that statement most frequently among my dissertation coaching clients who are practically within a stone’s throw of finishing.

What could make it so hard to keep going? 

The outsider might think that during the long process of writing a dissertation, writers would have grown to self-confidently view themselves as experts.

The fact of the matter is that dissertation writers all too often aren’t encouraged to recognize or trust their expertise. The process is often riddled with self-doubt and uncertainty. 

Even in the best of circumstances, writing a dissertation may be one of the hardest tasks you’ll ever take on.  It’s made worse when an advisor offers little or no guidance or support. The worst stories I’ve heard range from advisors who are completely disengaged and  want nothing to do with the ABD student to advisors who seem not only to lack empathy  but also lack awareness of the effect of their sarcasm and volatile moods.

Since most ABD’s work with the same advisor for months, if not years, what looks for all the world like psychological abuse can take a toll on even the most resilient and determined student.

When dissertation writers are confronted by self-doubt and the desire to quit, it’s time to step back from the process.

As a dissertation coach and an academic career coach, I encourage my clients to view their experiences through various lenses.  This may sound Pollyanna-ish, but you probably can’t change the process, so why not change the way you look at it?

For instance, what might a future employer—even if the employer is not in your field of expertise—infer about you, based on your having a PhD?

The knowledgeable future employer will understand that you know:
•  How to bring the best you have to offer to a project and keep yourself in the game over a long period of time
•  How to manage an extended project, specifically an extended writing project
•  How to be politically savvy

This is just a start– What else have learned during this arduous process? 

When you are honest with yourself, you must admit that you are learning a great deal about stamina and grit as you write this dissertation.  The character strengths you are honing are perhaps just as important as your accomplishments in your field of study. What have you learned that will stand you in good stead after you leave the state of the ABD?

I’d love to hear from you.

Best,

Nancy

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

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Dissertation writers are largely self-taught academic writers, and the learning process can be a bold and daring adventure.

Over the years many of my dissertation coaching clients talk about the challenges in writing academic discourse.  Academic writing is its own special discourse, with its own particular conventions. My dissertation coaching clients largely learn this discourse by doing.

What they are asked to do and the way they feel their way along, trying to put into practice what they think they’re being asked to do, is not unlike underprepared students in their first year or years of college.

Professors and instructors in composition and rhetoric fields are familiar with David Bartholomae’s article “Inventing the University.” Bartholomae defines how beginning college writers must act as if they know what they’re doing, even if they don’t.

The article opens in this way: “Every time a student sits down to write for us, he has to invent the university for the occasion–  .  .  . or a branch of it, like History or Anthropology or Economics or English. He has to learn to speak our language, to speak as we do, to try on the peculiar ways of knowing, selecting, evaluating, reporting, concluding, and arguing that define the discourse of our community.” 

Bartholomae says that students can’t wait to write academic discourse until after they have learned more or can write comfortably: “they must dare to speak it, or to carry off the bluff, since speaking and writing will most certainly be required long before the skill is ‘learned.’”

Likewise, my dissertation coaching clients have to boldly write and rewrite. Dare to write.

Dare to carry off the bluff.

Warm regards,

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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“How can I do a dissertation quickly,” asked a would-be dissertator.  Quickly, relative to what?  Relative to not doing it at all?  Quickly in terms of jumping back into the process and finishing it up? How rigorous is your university?  How demanding is your advisor?

All of these questions are relevant, but first you have to answer this question:  Are you writing now?

When people come to me wanting help with their dissertations, they most usually have been procrastinating and not only are they not writing daily, they aren’t writing much at all.  It’s usually been a month or three months or ages since they’ve produced a page or two.

To do a dissertation quickly or to do a dissertation at all, you have to write and you have to write consistently.

For people who have found writing to be anathema or repellent, I offer a jump-into-the-deep-end-of-the-pool exercise to help them establish a writing habit — Dissertation Boot Camp.

In addition to dissertation coaching, Boot Camp is the shove many would-be writers need.

Dissertation Boot Campers benefit from these guidelines:
1.  Commit to a daily writing session of a specific length;
2.  Start that daily writing as early in the day as possible, before emailing and before running errands and before cleaning up the kitchen or the bathroom;
3.  Be accountable on a daily basis, recording whether the goal for the day was met;
4.  Plan something resembling a week-end during the Boot Camp.
5.  Look forward to continuing with weekly coaching after Boot Camp to maintain strong accountability.

My job is to provide oversight, support, help with the accountability factor, and to offer whatever I can based on the experiences of my other clients.

Not only do you want to write your dissertation, quickly or otherwise, but you also want to have increased your character strengths, enhanced your writing and analytical skills, and expanded your intellectual purview—all of which you can use after you have your PhD.

Writing your dissertation gives you the opportunity
1.  To learn how to push back against that perfectionist internal critic and other destructive gremlins;
2.  To put procrastination in its place;
3.  To discover how to persevere, even if perseverance is not your top strength;
4.  To know your best “writing you”—the writer who takes to the bank the skill of taking on a writing project, scheduling it, writing it well enough and relatively quickly, and meeting deadlines.

When you’re finished once and for all with your dissertation, you want to have a success strategy in place – in the bank– that you can draw on for your future writing projects.

To finish your dissertation quickly, you need a robust writing habit.  Are you writing consistently?  I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Nancy

P.S.  Smart Tips for Writers, my e-newsletter, goes out next week.  If you aren’t subscribed, sign up 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.usingyourstrengths.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net

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