It’s been a pretty hectic and exciting month so far, as I’ve had 5 clients successfully defend their proposals, and 3 more are scheduled for their dissertation defenses in the next few weeks. (As you can imagine, for my clients who have reached these milestones, the weeks have been even more hectic and exciting than they have been for me!)

One theme which keeps showing up over the past few weeks is that of self belief. And, more specifically, how self belief changes everything. Many times, clients come to work with me after they have been stuck spinning their wheels for months or years. Routinely, they start coaching with a lot of self doubt, and disbelief. Their experience of themselves is that they are somehow failing, or can’t trust themselves, or are procrastinators, or otherwise somehow deficient or defective, mainly because they have tried to reach certain dissertation goals, and just never quite do it.

It’s pretty similar to how people feel when they have tried to lose weight, or stop smoking, or to change their eating habits. They have a lot of internal self talk that says they SHOULD, but their continuous experience is that somehow they just AREN’T.

After a while, repeated experiences of these kinds of small failures seriously begins to erode your self confidence and your belief in yourself. You can’t seem to stop setting goals, but even as you do, you kind of know you aren’t likely to reach them.

So what I’ve learned from working with many different clients over the past 8 years is that the first step of a successful dissertation experience is built on the foundation of positive self belief. You can only transform your negative dissertation experience from what you have been living to something new if you adjust your feelings, and thoughts, and, eventually, your behaviors.

It’s similar to the idea of the famous Albert Einstein quote: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Yet so many dissertation writers keep running over the same old groove of same old thoughts, feelings, and actions- even when they haven’t worked in a long time (and maybe never did.)

Too often, people try to do differently before they feel differently. But if you feel you can’t, that negative self belief will always be stronger than any other flurry of actions you do.

If you want to effect a true change in your dissertation process, you need to stop letting your anxiety drive you. You need to find ways to set small goals- ones that you know you will reach- AND THEN YOU ACTUALLY NEED TO REACH THEM.

Planning without action is purposeless.

It isn’t all that exciting, but the fact is, we believe in ourselves more easily when we do what we say we will do. If you constantly let yourself down in this way, your self belief will be low. But if you start to shift the balance slowly, and regain confidence in yourself as a person of discipline and integrity, you can build self belief and self confidence.

And that changes everything.