The title for this post came to me after a few conversations with clients over the past few weeks, all of which centered on how poor the job prospects are for those with PhD degrees, especially within academia. The educational chronicles and relevant periodicals are forecasting doom and gloom for those seeking employment within the ivory tower after graduation.
Not surprisingly, the amount of bad job news my clients have been focusing on is having a direct impact on their level of motivation and focus to get the dissertation done. (They think it might be coincidence, I know it’s not.)
Here’s the thing, basically: There are always one thousand reasons to NOT finish your dissertation- and really only 1 reason to finish: Because you want to. The 1,000:1 odds aren’t good, but finishing your dissertation is also not impossible.
I have helped six more people finish this semester, alone, and most of these people told me, at the beginning of our work together, that they weren’t sure they could finish- and they weren’t sure it’s worth finishing. Now, interestingly, since they have finished- they are really, really glad they did.
So if you’re looking to weigh your reasons not to finish against your reasons to finish, you’ll almost always find more reasons NOT to finish than you will to finish.
But that still won’t take away your desire to finish.
And I believe your 1 desire to finish can be, with the right support, reasonable goals, and consistent progress- that 1 desire can be stronger than 1,000 reasons.
Unless you are really going to quit your program right now, I’d strongly suggest you avoid all forecasting about the future. It’s demotivating. You don’t know what your specific future will hold or bring, and reading broad statistics isn’t going to help you.
Yes, it is important to have a general sense of what’s going on in the world, of course, but if you find that reading bad job news is making you feel badly, then stop doing it. Watching the news makes me feel badly a lot of the time, and I don’t do that either.
Ok, so I may not be so current on all the world affairs; that’s true- but at the same time, I sleep a lot better in my relative ignorance.
I’m advocating relative ignorance for you too. It doesn’t matter how bleak your prospects look, your choice is always the same: either you finish, or you don’t. That’s all.
If you decide not to finish, cut your losses now, and do something else.
If you would like to finish, but feel your dissertation process is harder than it needs to be, seek help, assistance or support to make it better. Suffering is optional.
But once you decide that you do want to finish, take your next step, and your next, and believe me, doors will open at the right time, and things will work out for you.
When you are clear in your intention and focused in your desire, you can make anything happen.
No matter what the statistics say.