The holidays are over and January is on its way out the door. Hopefully while on your brief hiatus, you have had time to make new goals and a timeline to reach the next rung on the ladder. When I was part of doctoral process, I made myself take those holidays in order to rejuvenate myself in terms of reassessing my goals. The process does not stop until you have defended and uploaded the dissertation to ProQuest therefore; it is always there beckoning to be finished. A new year tends to lead to a new perspective of what needs to be completed, new goals, what needs to change, and the steps to get there. So, this seems to bring you back to the planning stage like in the beginning.

After a while once you get re-settled into the same mold one may find it hard to get back into the groove of writing. I would look over some articles, take a few notes, and look for some fresh angles to add to the dissertation. I often would brainstorm with my mentor to see if she could shed a light or two on some issues. Depending on what stage you are at within your doctoral studies you should approach the upcoming steps in a piece meal fashion. Do not try to take on the whole mountain, step back (plan) and take it a piece at a time. There were a few areas I did not like to tackle, problems that needed to be addressed, and they were not going away so I would try to chisel at some of it to make it smaller. This would be a good time to check in with your fellow peers for I know there are others that may be having the same issues. Maybe attend a conference if you have the funds or attend a webinar that is associated with your line of research. Again, online can be very lonely and isolated so a bit of human contact can go a long way!

Motivation needs to be a constant when working on your dissertation. The motivation has to be from you by you, not from someone else, not for someone else. You are the one that has to complete this task and if you do not want to do it then it will not be completed. Motivation comes from within because if not the outside factors that it is placed on may not come to fruition then you have no progress. As I have stated before, this journey is not for the faint of heart or for those who are not patient. I had to learn patience for I was not prepared for the numerous iterations that transpired. The endless rewrites, changes, and new thought processes that were encountered.

If goals have not been put in place now is the time to do so. One cannot go through this process without some type of goals in place other than finishing, which is the ultimate goal. I set a goal and timeline for each chapter and built in mentor and committee review time as well. I kept the goals with a schedule on my calendar so I would know exactly where I should be. If something out of my control went astray, having a plan in place would help getting back on track and not to derail that goal. I also kept a personal journal to write down my thoughts, feelings, etc., for that helped me keep my mind free of clutter. For our acquaintances, friends, or family who are not in school or even working on a doctorate have no idea what we feel and the issues that happen along the way. The doctoral process is a very unique experience.

In my neck-of-the-woods (Midwest), the winters can be long, cold, and void of sun for days. It can be dark when I leave for work and dark when I get home due to daylight savings time. This is when you have to dig deep and find that “inner” light that makes you want to move forward and not give into the darkness or become a couch potato <lol>. It is very easy to come home, turn on the TV, radio, clean house, or whatever distraction that will take you away from the task at hand. I’m avid user of my calendar for ALL things that I need to do and this kept me on task and it still does. Work with your family when setting your goals for they need to be included in the process. The family must understand that you will need major support so you can stay connected. Do not forget the downtime, as I stated in an earlier post. Just like you schedule task put downtime on the “To Do” list as well. Remember, when it is in writing that should be a commitment. So push through with the tasks front and centered, implement the plans to get there, and look towards getting closer to that next goal. It’s Game Time! TTFN!!