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Posts Tagged ‘making progress’

When you’re going nowhere fast on your dissertation, it’s time to try something different.

In a blog post a few months ago I asked what bold action you would take for the sake of your writing (“What Bold Step Would You Take to Gain 2 Good Writing Days?”).  In today’s blog I want to share with you the story of someone bravely stepping out of the things-as-usual routine that had left her mired, stuck, and exhausted.

For the past several months she had been feeling awful because she wasn’t meeting deadlines and she wasn’t able to move forward on her dissertation.

It was time to try something different.

She took a week off, found a good deal on a hotel about an hour away from her house, and packed up her dissertation notes and drafts. She had no expectation that during the week of vacation she would do any work on the diss. If she made progress, that would be lovely, but she was not going to consider herself a failure if she did nothing.

Once in her hotel room, she spread her dissertation materials all over the entire room.  She sorted things into piles.  She could touch everything, look at it, and think about it.

Unlike her feelings about her diss over the past few months, she wasn’t anxious; she didn’t feel sick to her stomach.

As she told me later, she said to her diss spread over every surface in the room, “I’m just going to look at you.  You’re completely benign.  You’re not going to ruin my vacation.  I’m just going to be present with you.”

When she got up the next day, she was curious about the different parts of her diss spread around the room, and she began reading, and making notes. She felt as if she were involved in an exciting little adventure

She stayed in the hotel for a few days.   Each morning, she felt very positive and looked forward to the day, wondering what she would accomplish.  She worked through the day, not even thinking about food until evening.

At week’s end, when it was time to pack everything up and leave, she was sad, but the experience had helped her to look more clearly at her project.

It is a big project, she said, but it was all sitting there in that room.  There was nothing overwhelming about it.

The exciting adventure had helped her reframe her perspective.  Today she is choosing to view the diss as a manageable situation.  Her plan is to keep her vacation vibe going and to bring it into her space for writing in her house.

How about you? What brave investment are you willing to make for the sake of your writing?

I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time!

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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When my writing starts to come together, I am relieved, but I’m also anxious about what comes next.

My first response to those feelings of relief and a fluttering of anxiety almost always is to flee and to eat.

Be grateful if you don’t feel these urges.  Or pat yourself on the back if once you would have responded similarly, but you’ve now put in place better ways of coping.

It’s an ongoing struggle for me to hold at bay the twin urges for flight and food at such moments.

Here are 3 strategies I’ve found to be helpful for those times:

1) When I feel that flutter of anxiety, I take a slight flight.  If my Lizard Brain thinks that I’m in danger, as ridiculous as the idea that following through or achieving success might be dangerous, then it wants me to flee.  If I let my body have just a slight flight, I can ease my nerves.  You’d be surprised at the ease that can be gained from merely walking to the window. The resident Lizard Brain is soothed.

2)  While taking that slight flight, I also count to 19.  Counting slows my breathing and focuses me.  Plus, the counting reinforces the notion that this is only a slight flight, and I’ll return to my chair when I reach 19.

3) Since the urge to eat is just a variation on the urge to flee, I also delay eating by taking the slight flight and counting to 19. Putting off eating as an antidote to anxiety is crucial, as is the need to keep cookies and Fun-Sized Snickers and other such stuff out of my sight (and out of my house).

It’s important for me not to use food to dull the anxiety.

Escaping or eating to feel better temporarily is self-sabotaging.  It gets me off track.  It’s a time thief.  And it makes me question my abilities and strengths.

What my writing requires from me is perseverance, sticking with it when it’s going well or not so well.  And it’s my job to call on my character strengths and to leverage those strengths to make it easier to persevere.

What does it take to be successful in my writing?
Perseverance, discipline, determination, mental toughness, and, most of all, courage.

How about you? What will it take for you to be successful?

I’d love to hear from you about this.

Until next time!

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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Feeling anxious is no picnic, but it’s pretty common among writers.

When I’ve been struggling with my writing and finally feel that the fog may be starting to lift, here’s what comes up for me:

1. I feel relief.
2. And I feel anxious.

I feel relief because once again I’ve made it through.  And getting to that point is never a certainty.  So I start to breathe more easily, and I feel my shoulders relax.

And on the heels of that relief, I sense that feeling which almost always accompanies relief—a fluttering of anxiety.

The anxiety has to do with following through.  What do I do next?  How will it play out?  This is bound to be hard.  It would be so nice to stop now.

Following through is a problem for many of us.  Once we start to make sense of an idea, there’s an urge to knock off.

For some, it may be complacency. For me, I think it’s more about escape.

A client told me today that he feels in his comfort zone when he’s between the fear of success and the fear of failure. When he starts to make progress, he’s ready to back off.

By resisting whatever comes next and avoiding anxiety at all costs, we sabotage ourselves.  Instead of saying “Hurrah! I think it’s coming together,” and then digging in to see what’s ahead, we give in to the urge to seek the nearest exit.

By darting away, we’re losing the advantage we’ve created for ourselves.

And recapturing that moment takes effort.  Heck, even returning to the writing takes effort.  All that to avoid a bit of anxiety.

Feel the anxiety, and write past it.

Here’s to more writing for all of us!

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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