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{PhD} You’re making more progress in your PhD than you realise

Do you ever find yourself with your head in your hands bemoaning the fact that you “haven’t made progress”?

(I mean, maybe you never do this – in which case, you can probably stop reading now and go back to being the excellent, happy human you are!)

But if you’re anything like me, you may have some of these regularly scheduled freak-outs and crisis of confidence where you convince yourself that you have absolutely done nothing and gone nowhere with your PhD. 

This email drop is here to remind you that all those thoughts are big horrible lies made up by a tricksy part of your brain. 

I’m willing to wager that the trigger that got you thinking you haven’t made any progress is because you’ve had a peek at some other piece of research / another PhD / a colleague’s work.

So now you’re thinking, that work is absolutely fucking brilliant and by comparison, what you’ve got is absolute garbage.
And you need to start over…
You’ve got to work 30 hours a day to catch up…
…or  “It’s so bad what’s even the point I can’t do it maybe I’ll go into the garden and eat worms.” 

MY FRIENDS, the one thing that is fucking up your head and your own bloody brilliant, amazing, productive, successful progress is this default setting that all our tricksy brains have that insists on comparing.  

But, instead of looking at what Blobby McBlobberson is doing and thinking of where you need to be, please do this today: 

1. PAUSE

2. Take a full deep breath right down to your belly

3. Think deeply about what you have already managed to do so far. 

I mean it. Write it all down. Every single small thing you have accomplished in your research that has gotten you to this point.

This includes the ideas you have, the thoughts you’re thinking, the bits and pieces you’ve scribbled down, everything you’ve read.

I promise that that list is going to be far longer than you would have initially realised.

Then, review: if you’ve managed to do ALL THAT, you’re going to be able to do it again – AND MORE.

The thing about research is that the goal post can keep moving infinitely. There’s always going to be something else you could be doing, another thing to investivate, another conference to speak at, another paper to write.

If you’re looking ahead to where you’re not
If you’re comparing yourself to someone else
If you’re looking at the list of things you haven’t done yet

then yeah, you’re always going to be ‘behind’ and ‘not progressing’.

Stop making it harder than it needs to be for yourself and instead, celebrate the fucking champion that you already are and all the small and big things you have already accomplished.

They all add up, they all matter and they will ultimately get you to where you need and want to be. 

Keep your eye on that, and let Blobby McBlobberson get on with whatever they need to do. It’s literally none of your business and has zero bearing on what you’ve done, are doing or will do.

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