Writing a thesis is a singular and solitary journey. You may well have the support from your family, an amazing supervisor and an academic coach to help you navigate the challenges and obstacles (of which, let’s be 100% honest, there are many), but in the end, you and only you can be the one to put the words on the page. And you, only you, will be awarded the degree/diploma in the end. Therefore, You are the champion and you have to learn to champion yourself.
What do I mean?
While having everyone else cheer you on throughout the thesis writing process may give you the warm and fuzzies, you need to be your own biggest fan. It’s not conceited to have a healthy amount of self-confidence in your abilities or to champion yourself. In fact, I’d like to argue the opposite is true. If you don’t believe in yourself, how is it logical to expect others to believe in you?
Writing a thesis is a marathon
Most people start out of the blocks full of enthusiasm. Sheer will power gets them out of bed at 5AM so that they can work on their thesis for an hour or two before work. But it doesn’t last. Why? Well, we have a limited amount of will power, and if we’re also trying to eat healthily, follow an exercise regime and maybe quit smoking (or some other vice) then we will soon find ourselves depleted and unable to make good on all those plans we made to stick to a writing schedule. What follows is even more damaging than falling behind on the writing schedule– we start a series of internal dialogues where we berate ourselves for failing early on and talk ourselves out of success.
Negative self-talk is often the biggest stumbling block, telling yourself that you have failed before you have even begun will hold you back more than a tricky section of the research process.
The truth is, writing a thesis is a substantial amount of work and will require you to stay on it, even when you don’t feel like it or feel unmotivated. Like the marathon runner, you’re going to have to climb that hill, ignore the chafing blisters and just keep putting one foot in front of the other until you reach the finish line.
How to keep going even when you feel like you can’t anymore
I’ve worked with many students with various degrees of motivation and discipline over the years, and this is what I’ve learned. Discipline is made up of tiny daily habits. They show up for the work every day, whether they like it or not.
- They celebrate the small wins.
- They make sacrifices early on.
- They ask for help from the right people.
- They thrive when they have an accountability partner.
- They make sure their workspace lends itself to productivity – no clutter or distractions.
- Their planning is agile and dynamic, making it flexible to adjust when life happens.
- They plan in breaks, keeping feelings of overwhelm at bay.
- They acknowledge and manage procrastination and feelings of fear (mostly).
- They remember this is a process of learning.
- They practice self-compassion.
Learn to grow
None of this should be new to you, and I’m not the first person to notice the habits and attitudes of successful individuals. I understand you are bogged down with reading material, but if you’re looking for some self-development tools, I highly recommend reading, or listening to the following audiobooks, to deepen your understanding on these key behaviours.
Atomic Habits. Learn the power of stacking habits as well as how small incremental changes can compound and alter a result to favour success.
Deep Work. Learn how to build your levels of concentration to increase productivity.
Essentialism. Learn how to say no to things so that you can stay focused on the work that really matters.
Why we sleep. Gain insight into the critical importance of sleep and how it affects your brain and overall cognitive performance.
Alternatively, you can hop over to my website where I’ve published a number of short articles on these topics. Click and read.
Your thesis is your Rhapsody, and you are the champion, my friend. Don’t forget it.