I’ve been thinking lately about the concept of one simple action- as in “take one simple action to reach your goal” (and then one more, and another, and so on…)

I remember being in graduate school and feeling like only the grandest actions or biggest gestures- whether it was staying up all night to study, focusing only on school at the expense of having a life- that only the biggest, grandest gestures would be meaningful and important.

It’s so easy to get caught up in a cycle of constantly trying to outdo yourself. It can be like that in the dissertation too, such as when you get caught up in binge-writing and binge-avoidance. You work extremely hard for a while, but then “burn out” and don’t do any work for a while, until your anxiety and fear drives you to work really hard again, but then you get burned out, and so on.

Once you’ve been burned out a few too many times, it is very difficult to get back into a cycle of working productively.

So this concept of one simple action is really important. Anytime you feel overloaded, overwhelmed, or stressed out, ask yourself, “What is one simple action I can take right now?”- and then do it. The process of asking this question and taking the action should help shift you out of overwhelm.

I’m reminded, again, and again, that as Mother Theresa once said, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

What is one small thing you can do, today, to move closer to a finished dissertation?