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One of the most stressful types of dissertation coaching experiences is when someone has waited way too long to seek out help. They know they’ve been struggling for weeks, months, years… and yet they let the clock basically run out- so they lose time, focus, and opportunities to improve their situation.

There is little that is more stressful than trying to write a dissertation when you’ve run out of time. If writing is difficult when you have the option of multiple drafts, imagine how blocked you’ll feel if you have to get it all perfect on the first try. (Now I know some of you feel this way anyway, but the truth is that you really don’t have to get it perfect on the first try. You just need to get it written.) Anyway, going back to the main point: more of the same brings more of the same.

Consider this:
Have you committed more than three times in the past two months that you *will* make the next month different? Maybe you’ve committed that you’ll work for eight hours each day, diligently, and that you’ll complete a certain amount of writing in that time.

Yet, if you look back over the past two months, you see that you never quite actually attained this goal? And so you plan, today, that the next two months will be significantly different. And so another two months passes and you’re not really any farther along?

The reason for this is because when you make these kinds of commitments to yourself, you are trying to create new behaviors without necessarily having a clear commitment to the changes required for these new behaviors. Using a furniture analogy, it’s like you’re trying to fit a six foot sofa in a three foot room. Your working habits aren’t yet strong enough, or big enough, or deep enough to hold such a strict working schedule. Just like a six foot sofa in a three foot room, you’ll expend a lot of effort trying to make it work, but, at the end of the day, will have very little to show for it.

So the idea is not to keep doing more of the same. If you’ve set a goal and didn’t reach it, the key is to understand *why* you didn’t reach it. Was the goal too big? The time too small? The outcome too ambitious? There are always reasons why.

Once you know the reasons why, you have new information from which to make a new set of choices and take a new set of actions. In essence, you’ve grown your “room” a bit bigger. When you open yourself up to learning why you weren’t able to reach your goals, you create the space for new, more adaptive processes to enter your life and dissertation process.

Without this understanding, you’ll keep cycling through the wheel of same behaviors, same poor outcomes- and never make any appreciable progress.

If you’ve been doing the same old thing in the same old way, and it’s just not working- analyze why, and do something different the next time.