Updated: Nov 6, 2019
Over the last 2 years I have had to push through the most challenging goal of my life— writing my PhD dissertation. A goal that I had originally embarked on with enthusiasm quickly became a challenge I had to preserve through in a way that I had never experienced before.
I’ve always said writing a dissertation is not really hard. It is the complexities of the process that cause an emotional, physical, and mental toll that you really cannot prepare for. You are learning how to conduct research, while simultaneously conducting research, perfecting your academic writing, learning and understanding theories, methodology, all while coming to terms with the fact that you really don’t know what your doing at first. While I have come to love conducting research it was an emotional and mental roller coaster to get there. Here’s how I got through it, and here is how you can get through any challenging situation.
Remember your end goal. Remember why you started in the first place. Sometimes when you are deep in a challenge it is hard to remember what your original purpose was. Step back and reflect on what you are looking to accomplish and refocus so you can forge ahead. Create a pros and cons list of what the outcome will be if you don’t push through versus what the outcome will be if you do.
Remember that storms never last. Sometimes we find ourselves in challenging situations because life just happens. Challenges are going to come and go—they are a part of life. How you choose to confront them is up to you. I was once told a story that when you're driving on the highway and you see the dark storm clouds in the distance you have to prepare for driving through that storm. As you get closer, it becomes darker and darker and then rain starts to fall. The more you drive the harder the rain begins to fall. If you stop and pull over then you get stuck in the middle of the storm. But if you start driving, eventually the dark sky gets lighter and lighter and the rain starts to clear up. So learn to keep moving and forging forward and not sit in the storm. You have to move to get out of it.
Flip the challenge into a learning experience. We often assign dread and fear to a challenge. When challenging situations arise learn to view them as a learning experience and not as a negative experience. Despite the challenges I faced writing my dissertation I also learned so much! I learned I can do really hard things, I discovered that I love researching, I learned patience and how to push myself to be better, I learned from my Chair how to be a good mentor, and I learned what I really want to do with my business as a result of my research.
To my 40-something ladies — What challenges have you faced recently? How did you persevere? What did you learn? Share in the comments below so we can grow as a community.
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