I believe that your life and your work are interconnected. Whatever is happening in your personal life will reflect in your work, and vice versa. If you are feeling scattered, unfocused, or unclear in some area of your personal life, you will likely struggle with similar feelings in your dissertation process.

It stands to reason, then, that if you are stuck in one part of your dissertation process, this might mirror some place of stuckness in your life as a whole.

I’m often struck by how many activities get deferred by the presence of the dissertation. Someone I once worked with stated, "I can’t find a relationship until I finish my dissertation."

She was adamant about this statement, and no amount of gentle persuasion or direct requesting could get her to shift out of this mindset. But the fact was that she was a long way from finishing her dissertation, and she was lonely.

Being lonely is not a good feeling to try and work around in your dissertation process. You can deny it, avoid it, distract yourself, but if you’re lonely for a relationship, that won’t abate until you actually take effective action.

In this client’s case, her effective action was to stop delaying the rest of her life for her dissertation process. When I finally (finally!) convinced her to start dating, even I was completely amazed at the rapidity with which she got right down to work. She finished her dissertation within the next eight months, after more than a two years of doing practically nothing.

What made the difference for her? She now had something to look forward to each day. She was excited about her new relationship, and this energized and propelled her forward like nothing else. As it turned out, the stuck place in her life (being lonely/not having a relationship) was cementing the stuck place in her dissertation (where she wanted to work, but felt distracted by her loneliness.)

So what does this mean for you?

Glad you asked. 🙂

If you are stuck in any place in your dissertation, look to see what might need to change in another part of your life. If you can identify a necessary change, act on it.

Something about the act of taking action seems to catalyze forward motion in many areas, not just one.

Remember: your dissertation and your life are mirrors of each other. When your life is on track, your dissertation process very likely will be, too.


Shifting Gears: I had a request and I was hoping you could help.

As you may know, I’ve made it my goal to help 1000 graduate students finish their Ph.D.s within the next 12 months. To do this, I need your help. If you have any friends or colleagues who are looking for focused dissertation help, would you please take a minute to refer them to this blog? I’d really appreciate it. Thanks so much!