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Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

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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Kicking the can down the road has been given a bad rap.

Political usage of the game’s title has come to mean a shirking of responsibility or procrastinating or hoping someone else will take care of a problem. This meaning has little connection to the game of years past.  While foreign to most children of today, the game in its simplest form consisted of moving a ball down a street to a goal, despite challenges or attempts by others to interfere.

Political usage aside, this game would have few players today for many reasons.

You say that the idea of kicking the can down the road is antiquated, not in keeping with the demands and expectations in your life. It’s a joke.  Who works or lives this way now?

Kicking the can down the road

You are impatient.  You demand achievement that speaks to your high standards and to your big vision.

You don’t have time to fool around with a kid’s game. You have to finish your dissertation.  You should have finished it two years ago.

Unfortunately, though, because of the project’s enormity, your dissertation process is out of control.  In fact, it has stalled, and you’re stuck.

There is another way. The alternative to living with an impasse and doing nothing is to narrow the process, focus on what is doable each day, and make the execution manageable.

A big project of any kind particularly that of writing a dissertation, needs to be divided into manageable chunks. Instead of approaching the dissertation like a house on fire, as my grandmother would say, you need a straightforward, doable plan that you can approach one step, or one kick, at a time. Something simple and elegant.

I like the image of a kid on the road, alone and calm. If you look closely at the kid, he is not aimlessly kicking, but focused and determined. And he is moving the can forward.  Sure, there may be some learning involved if you want to try this.  Such an old-school approach may not come naturally. You need practice.

kick the can

Focusing on the goal of small, steady gains takes determination and mental toughness to keep at it. But with the feeling of success that comes only from moving forward, your motivation will grow, helping you to stick with the project. And you will eventually reach that destination—of finishing your dissertation.

Kicking the can down the road seems about the right pace to get things done.  It suggests the old adage of “slow and steady wins the race.”

slow and steady

How about you?  How is your approach working?  Would small, steady gains help you finish your dissertation?

I would love to hear from you.

Here’s to small and steady gains–

Nancy

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

nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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The New Year at its most powerful is a time for reflection and a time to think about where you want to put your focus.  The holidays are often jam-packed with travel, planning, buying, eating, interacting, negotiating, and not much quiet time. The first week of the New Year may reveal that it’s harder to focus than you had thought it was.

On the first coaching day of the New Year among those dissertation coaching clients who showed up as expected, I also had a client show up unexpectedly—she had forgotten that she wanted to start a week later. On subsequent days the schedules of a couple more clients unexpectedly conflicted with their coaching calls. The first day or so of starting a new schedule or returning to a routine after a busy holiday can make for a bumpy ride and a feeling of loss of control.

While my holiday began with the usual hurry-hurry pace, by Christmas Day I had moved into the best part of the holiday–the familiar gift exchanges, special meals, and the less familiar travel to a new home of a loved one.

The most different part of my Christmas holiday was going with my whole family to Manhattan on Christmas Monday. The crowds both at Macy’s at Herald Square and at Rockefeller Center skating rink and Christmas tree were enormous, but fun, jolly, and relaxed. We joined the cold-night sauntering of the crowds down Fifth Avenue, oohing and ahhing over the window displays at Tiffany and Bergdorf Goodman and the light shows and illuminations on the tall buildings.

Celebrating the holiday with my family and also with this huge, unhurried crowd of friendly strangers heavily bundled against the night’s cold was not only relaxing, but it was also a way to reset my frequently frenzied focus. I could concentrate on what was there to be seen and to be experienced. I lost myself in the moment, enjoying the city at its most beautiful. 

Having those few hours not only to be unplugged, but also to feel transported and intensely engaged in a sensory, beautiful experience gave me the pause I needed to come back to my work with a desire to improve my level of focus and concentration.

To help me sharpen my focus in this New Year, I’m giving myself time each day to pause. I’m setting aside an hour each day where I have the choice on where to place my focus.

I also realize how much I need to have experiences of beauty and wonder in my life. Reading has always given me those kinds of experiences, but increasingly my reading is for my work or has chosen by someone else. Recently I happened to read Téa Obreht wonderful novel The Tiger’s Wife, which created a world that beckoned me to re-engage for days and weeks to unravel webs of images and secrets and relationships.

Knowing that I’m better in many ways–focus, concentration, motivation– if I’m reading a novel that engages me and asks something of me, I’m also giving myself permission to spend some time looking for such novel to read each month—one that engages me and could very likely leave me awestruck

What do you need to have in your life in this New Year? Do you also need something that will boost your focus and concentration in 2012?  I’d love to hear what you think.

All good wishes to you for 2012,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC

Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach

http://www.smarttipsforwriters.com

http://www.dissertationbootcamp.net

http://www.nancywhichard.com

nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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Many readers of Successful Writing Tips are looking for help with motivation.  And they also are interested in what mental toughness has to do with motivation.

As a dissertation writer, you may often find yourself in chaos, frustrated, with no easy way out.  You’re not alone.  Many other writers find themselves in a similar predicament.

A good way through such frustration is to rely on your mental toughness, your perseverance, and your determination.

Several years ago when I first wrote in this blog about mental toughness, I focused on Steve Nash, the NBA basketball player. Nash epitomizes mental toughness. A relatively small man in an aggressively physical sport, he has decided that he won’t let the rough play and attempts to intimidate bother him.  He remains unflappable.  I am sure that he likes the salary that comes with his job, but I don’t think a salary alone can give him the obvious zest and love for the game that he displays year after year.

 

 

I’m learning a lot about motivation and self-regulation from a class I’m taking from Heidi Grant Halvorson, PhD, a terrific teacher and also an expert in the study of goals and the science of motivation.

Mental toughness, like willpower and other forms of self-regulation, takes practice and grows stronger with use.  It can also be exhausted.  Halvorson says that you can “catch” mental toughness and self-control by thinking about or observing a person who has it in abundance.

Rather than feeling fearless and being motivated in part by their mental toughness, many ABD’s tell me that what motivates them is fear, particularly fear of failure.

If you don’t feel mentally tough now, can you imagine yourself becoming mentally tough as you write your dissertation?  I’d love to hear what you think.

In a future post I’ll write about two amazing people who exhibit incredible motivation, perseverance, and all-around mental toughness. I think you will be inspired by them as I am.

To my friends, family, and coaching clients in the U.S., Happy Fourth of July! 

I’m spending the holiday with some members of my family.  To those of you who I won’t see at this time, I hope to catch up with you soon. 

Warmly, 

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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What does August have in common with January and New Year’s? 

If you are an  academic writer, a PhD in academia, or an ABD, the last half of summer and August, in particular, may be the calm before the storm, the last best chance to do some serious writing before classes start and maybe before your advisor  (or department chair) returns to campus and you have to face him or her.

Just as in January, when everyone is urging you to start afresh, to lose weight, to join a gym, with August looming, you are now getting offers of four free sessions with a coaching group or membership in a low-cost online writing group.  Come closer to the August dissertation/academic writing hype—use the hype to start your own fire. 

You could try my Boot Camp, or steal my model for yourself.

My Boot Camp is a concentrated 2-week session in which I ask writers to commit to write four hours daily. Writers draw firm boundaries to eliminate distractions and to avoid setting themselves up for failure.  For accountability, I ask clients to email me after each daily writing session. 

By sticking to the plan, a success strategy is in motion.  Over the two weeks, writing becomes a habit because success is a habit.

Even if you’re working full time and also juggling a dissertation, you can make time over the next few weeks if you open yourself to the potential for summer productivity.

Don’t let this season of opportunities pass you by. If you’ve been an on-again, off-again dissertation writer for far too long, establish the writing habit and enjoy successful writing. 

Enjoy the success of building a consistent, daily, robust writing habit. 

I’m keeping an eye on the calendar.  Are you?

Nancy

P.S.  If you’re interested in successful writing and summer productivity, I’d like to hear from you.  Have you tried Boot Camp? Check out my tips at my website—www.nancywhichard.com and www.dissertationbootcamp.net.

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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Have you turned up the heat on your dissertation now that summer is here?  Is your summer writing starting to take off yet? What are you using as an incentive?

One of my clients has a new powerful incentive—one that she says has given her a sense of purpose about finishing her dissertation.

Let me tell you her story of how she found this incentive.  There are three parts to her story.

1. First of all, she admits that she has had fear and uncertainty around what finishing her dissertation might mean for her.  And that fear has at times held her back.

She has resisted seeing herself as an expert or emerging expert. She has also resisted the idea that she is carving out a niche for herself in the academic world as she writes her diss.

Because she has questioned her own knowledge and the quality of her research, she has at times avoided people and avoided situations where her self-described inadequacies might show her to be the fraud she feared she was. 

2. The second part of this story has to do with a shot in the arm that my client received by going to a conference.

As a graduate student, she has been to many conferences, presenting and discussing, but even so, in many ways, she has held back and hid out. She said that the most recent conference got off to the usual slow start that she’s experienced at many conferences.  As she usually did, she spent the first night in her room, resting, and missed an initial gathering.

The second day of the conference was the beginning of her transformation.

Her advisor said that at the gathering which my client missed, that he had talked to several people about her work.  In addition, some of the other graduate students and professors attending the gathering were interested in talking with her and hearing more. 

This was the push she needed.  She began to drop her fear of being revealed as an imposter and gradually became more at ease talking about her work. 

She dared to think more boldly about her diss and tried out some of her ideas by asking questions in the sessions she attended.  She sought people out and for the first time enjoyed networking.  This was all new for her and took courage, but she was acting on the sense that had come from the revising and honing of her ideas as she had worked on her diss over the last many months and years–that she did indeed know a great deal about her topic.  Furthermore, during the conference, she almost allowed herself to feel like an expert.

3. The third part of this story is that she came home with a new realization of why she is writing a dissertation—she wants to share her ideas and thoughts.  Sharing her ideas and testing her ideas at this conference were such powerful experiences that she no longer sees research as a way to stay insulated or in her bubble.  She is starting to see the excitement that can be hers, and she wants to burst out of her self-imposed academic bubble. Getting her dissertation out the door is the next step, but she no longer feels that the diss has to be perfect before she lets go of it.  Now she says that she needs to get her ideas out in the market place, and she has hopes that finishing her diss can be the start of much more work on her ideas.

With this wind at her back she says that she needs to do a last, strong push toward the finish line, rather than hovering around the last mile or two.  This confidence in her future is just what she needed.

And that’s as far as the story goes today about my client and the boost she got from
(1) getting out of her own way,
(2) enjoying the thrill of sharing her ideas with others
at the conference, and by
(3) acting on her excitement from the conference to fuel her rapid movement toward the dissertation finish line.

How about you?  How can you motivate yourself?  What if you acknowledged your expertise and started to act as if you, too, have ideas and writing that you want to get out there into the world?  It could be a brand new day!

Have a brilliant writing session today.

Nancy
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.nancywhichard.com

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One of the top 3 posts on my blog is “Motivation in Writing the Dissertation–It’s All about Mental Toughness and Discipline.” Day after day, it stays in the top 3 posts.  As yesterday turned into today, the first two hits of this new day again were on “Motivation in Writing the Dissertation–It’s All about Mental Toughness and Discipline.”   

What is it that is drawing readers to that post?  Is it because writers are looking for the secret of how to become motivated?

Are they putting off writing, but at the same time telling themselves that if only they could get motivated that they would then start writing?

In an email last night, a dissertation client suggested that he wasn’t feeling particularly motivated.  Tonight—which is Monday– when he came to our call, he didn’t even mention a lack of motivation. 

What he did say was that his week was off to a good start and that he felt like he had actually accomplished something today.  He didn’t say how difficult it was to get started working.  His focus was on how feelings of accomplishment had given him “a good start.”  His use of the word start implies that more is to come.

He clearly capitalizes on whatever success he achieves to help him become motivated.
 
When he leaves his day job to come home, he says that he tries not to think about being tired.  He focuses on what comes next.  And what comes next isn’t a nap.  He never takes a short nap after coming home because he knows that giving into the desire for a short nap would result in a 3-hour nap. 

That’s being mentally tough.  Motivation doesn’t come easily. It requires you to train yourself into thinking that you can have a day job and then come home at night and write toward your week’s writing goal.  Or you can bathe your kids and put them to bed and either write then or get up early the next morning and write before going to work. 

It means digging down to find the discipline to hold yourself accountable and to accomplish something.

You may be doing writing connected with your job or writing that you have chosen to do.  It’s either something you choose to do or it’s thrust upon you.  Either way, once you make some headway, then you’re ready to keep rolling.  You will feel motivated.  But mental toughness and discipline come first.

How are you doing with being mentally tough?  I’d love to hear from you.  I’d also love to send you my e-newsletter, Smart Tips.  Go to www.nancywhichard.com and sign up.

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