Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

A Saturday alone is a gift.

My husband is gone for the weekend, and I am writing.

As a reward to writing first, I promised myself a bit of email-inbox decluttering.

To see if I should read it or delete it, I clicked on Gretchen Rubin’s “5 Mistakes I Continue To Make in My Marriage.”

Of course, since I make mistakes in my marriage, I can’t help being curious.  While the title sounds like something that would be in a magazine at the grocery check-out, the author—Gretchen Rubin— writes engagingly about the application of positive psychology studies and theories to her own life.

If you feel that the demands of writing and working or teaching coupled with your tightly scheduled life create problems for your relationships and family life, you’ll appreciate hearing which mistakes Rubin addresses and some changes she has resolved to make.  I’m particularly struck by her #4 mistake that she continues to make in her marriage.

That mistake is Score-keeping.

She says that she keeps score—herself vs. her husband.

And she always believes that she is overly generous in her contributions to the house and family, while, of course, she finds her husband lacking.

Her score-keeping doesn’t account for overestimating her own contribution.

Rubin quotes University of Virginia psychology professor, Jonathan Haidt, who writes in The Happiness Hypothesis  that “when husbands and wives estimate the percentage of housework each does, their estimates total more than 120 percent.”

How about you?  Do you engage in score-keeping and start to get that testy, cranky feeling about all that you’re doing?

As you engage in score-keeping and struggle with the feelings that arise, you’re using energy and willpower that could go toward your writing.  And you’re doing damage to your relationships. Score-keeping is costly.

Keeping your relationship on an even keel is difficult when you’re engaged in an intense and time-consuming writing project.  It’s easy to fall into unconscious over-claiming (that is, unconsciously overestimating what you have done versus another person’s contribution) when you feel yourself sucked into yet another time-consuming task.

If you want to be productive during a scheduled writing session, decide ahead of time what you will do if score-keeping raises its ugly head.  Planning can help you avoid that emotional drain.

What costly mistakes do you find yourself making in your relationships?







Take care of your relationships, and conserve your willpower.

Keep writing,


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

Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach




nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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If you put your energy around what you want, that’s what you’ll get.

One client told me that she had been ambivalent about all of the questions her dad had about her dissertation.  But she decided to make a positive out of the parental interest.  She saw that her dissertation could be a bridge in her relationship with her father, a relationship that had in the past suffered from a lack of communication.

She decided to talk about her dissertation whenever he expressed an interest.  It worked for her.

Could you seek the positive and honor what is good about the relationships in your life?
What would best serve your goals?

If you want to keep a special person in your life, if you want to keep friends in your life, if you want the support of your parents, it’s time to talk with all of them about the demands you’re facing and to tell them how their support can help you.

If they don’t understand, then you’ve done all you can.  But who knows—you might be pleasantly surprised.

Reclaim your power.  Focus on moving your writing forward.

What is working for you?  I’d love to hear from you!

Here’s one thing that will work for you– get my Smart Tips e-newsletter.  Just for signing up, you get a bonus.  Go to my website (www.nwcoaching.com) and sign up.

Until next time,

Your Dissertation Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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Several ABD’s have told me over the last few days about issues with parents, spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends, and even friends.

The boyfriend of one of my clients has made it clear that he thinks it’s taking far too long for her to finish her dissertation.  And the process drags on because she hesitates to work late at her office or to work on week-ends because she doesn’t want to irritate or even anger him. Another of my clients broke up with her boyfriend because he said she wasn’t giving the relationship the attention it needed. 

One young woman has told me how she lost friends when she was getting her master’s degree—they said she didn’t spend enough time with them. Now she’s resistant to throwing herself into writing her dissertation.  She doesn’t want to give even more friends a reason to desert her.

Most parents of ABD’s are incredibly supportive, but some parents want to give advice that isn’t welcomed—the unwelcome advice can be barbed or worse. 

I’ve heard stories of parents undercutting their offspring’s decisions in various areas, such as choice of topic.

When one year drags into another, the parents of some ABD’s have compared their adult child’s lack of progress to the quick attainment of a PhD by someone they know. 

 I’ve even heard a couple of stories about truly intolerable behavior from parents who had never completed dissertations themselves.  They had had to settle for remaining an ABD. 

No ABD should put up with emotional abuse, whether it’s from a boyfriend, spouse, or parent. 

But if your dissertation process is affecting your relationships with people who are important to you, people you love, you do have choices. 

People matter.

Has your dissertation process affected your relationships with others?  I hope you’ll contact me and tell me your experience.  I’m sure many people could profit from what you have done to maintain relationships and what you’ve done to take care of yourself.

Until next time,


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

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Most of us in the U.S. turned back our clocks this morning, giving us one extra hour.

Now you may think I’ll say that everyone writing a dissertation had one extra hour today to write.  Not me.  Not this time.

As I read the Washington Post this morning, a little earlier than I usually do on Sunday mornings, I was struck by the gift of an hour and what was available to me—I read the Post’s “Picks” and “Can’t Miss.”   But when I was writing my dissertation, if I had received the gift of an extra hour, I doubt that I would have spent it doing what I really wanted to do.  If I knew then what I know now, I would have.

Writing a dissertation can move us into survival mode.  We may stockpile every minute, push ourselves beyond what’s reasonable, prop ourselves up with caffeine and sugar, and push away others, compounding the isolation. 

That’s crazy.

You will finish your dissertation, but in the meantime, you need a life.

If you have children, you probably feel as if you’ve been taking something away from your family.  They’ll be o.k., but spending time with the people you love nurtures you.  And it may actually help you think more clearly and creatively when you go back to your dissertation. 

If you have friends that you haven’t contacted in umpteen years/months, this might be the time.

If religion or church-going has ever been a part of your life, then maybe this is the time to stop in again.  If you were ever going to pray, this is the time for that, don’t you think? 

So when might you plan some time to spend with others?  How do you usually spend your week-ends?  If you’re like many dissertators, you plan to work on the week-end, but the time gets away from you.  And by Sunday night, most likely you realize that you didn’t spend the week-end doing anything you particularly enjoyed either.

What if you planned your next week-end to accommodate both dissertation writing and doing something you enjoy?

Recently, a client decided that she would work Saturday afternoon and then take a long bike ride on Sunday with her friends.  I pressed her, asking her what would lock in this idea, what would make it absolutely happen. By our talking about how it could be and how she would feel once Sunday night arrived, the plan came to life for her. 

Here are a few things that I hope you will remember.

1.  It is important to talk about how something is going to change.
2.  Put very detailed plans into writing and then review that plan throughout the week. 
3.  Make sure that your detailed plans include specifically what you want to accomplish in your work session.
4.   Do not let the work session bleed into the time for the rest of your life.  Follow my client’s lead:  work on Saturday; hold part of Sunday for what you want to do. 
5.  And do whatever it takes to include others. 

Starving yourself when you’re on a diet makes you mean, and probably shortens the life of the diet.

Depriving yourself while you write your dissertation can stunt your emotional and spiritual growth, creating a mean and maybe lonely person. 

And deprivation could make it easier for you to abandon the diss before it’s finished.

If you have a second, please drop by my website (www.nwcoaching.com) and sign up for my free e-newsletter.

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