October and the early weeks of November may be the very months in which you feel like you’ve simply “had enough” on your thesis journey. You’re exhausted, stressed and plain old gatvol. While some might convince themselves that they have done all they can and take their foot off the gas at this point, students who push through and work on polishing their thesis are the ones that take their work from good to great and possibly distinction.
This is your time to shine: your time to step up where others are slowing down; your time to dig deep for the final sprint and your time to demonstrate mental strength.
This is tenacity, the ability to keep going when others give up.
Here are some ways you can build up your mental strength and actively put tenacity into practice.
- Remember that you are in control. There’s a quote often credited to Ignatius: “Pray as if God will take care of all; act as if all is up to you.”
- Put aside the things you cannot impact. Mental strength is like muscle strength–no one has an unlimited supply. So why waste your energy on things you can’t control?
- See past mistakes as valuable training and nothing more. Do not hyperfocus on the parts of the thesis journey that went wrong. Make a conscious effort to frame what went wrong and identify the lesson learnt. Then move on.
- Celebrate the success of others. If someone else shines it does not detract from your ability to shine. Resentment sucks up a massive amount of mental energy–energy better applied elsewhere.
- Create a tangible reminder. This could be a vision board or a sticky note on your computer. Mental fatigue makes us take the easy way out–even though the easy way may take us the wrong way. Tangible reminders go a long way to help us resist the impulse of making choices that take us from the path towards our goal.
This famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt rings true when I think about the final push to create your best work.
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Polish your thesis
In my experience as an academic performance coach, it’s this time of year that calls for the all-important final checks, making sure your work is perfect and ready to be submitted as a professional body of work.
This is your masterpiece; the art you’ve been creating from an empty canvas since day one; the piece of work of which you should be supremely proud. Your blood, sweat, and tears have produced this outcome. Don’t give up now – tweak it – till the end.
For this exercise, I suggest you print out the entire research report and take out your red pen. Please note, this checklist is just a guide and therefore not exhaustive. During this editing process, constantly look-out for amendments to improve your grammar, punctuation, or flow. And, don’t forget to ask for help from anyone willing to read a chapter.
- Your table of contents (TOC) numbering is consistent with the rest of the document.
- All diagrams and tables are correctly named and referenced.
- Consistent bullet point markers (round or square?).
- Consistent spelling rules for US or British English i.e. the use of s or z in places.
- When you describe diagrams, ensure the explanation matches the diagram in terms of numeric or alpha labels.
- Heading structures and formatting is correct and in line with the style guide provided.
- Structure for Tables, Appendices, Acronyms and Abbreviations, and Figures are in line with the style guide provided.
- Do you have the correct page/word count for successful submission?
- Make sure the number of in-text references matches the number in your reference list.
- Your references must be accurate and support the citation style required.
Now is not the time to sabotage all the effort you’ve already put in, now is your time to shine.