1 – Go easy on yourself


This last piece of advice is the one that I wish I took more seriously from the start…

As my previous 9 posts will have suggested, doing a Ph.D is hard. Not only are there pressures from the work itself (i.e. write 80,000 words contributing something new to human knowledge), but there are many other plates that need to be kept spinning.

At some point throughout the process, you’ll feel guilty – maybe you had theĀ audacity to take a day off from writing? You’ll also feel like an imposter – why should anyone listen to you as an expert when you’ve only just started to look at this work in any detail? You’ll probably get other pressures coming along, too – pressure to publish, pressure to teach, pressure to match those in your field who (more than likely) have a 20 – 30 more years of experience than you do.

So how the hell do you do a Ph.D without imploding?

You recognise the signs, and stop. You put down the pen, or close the book, or look away from the computer screen, and you breathe. You remember that you’re ‘in training,’ and that the world is still turning. You give yourself a break and put things in perspective, because doing a Ph.D is hard enough without being your own worst enemy at the same time.

For the sake of your work, and more importantly for your own sake, go easy on yourself.

So that’s it for now. I’ll be defending my thesis tomorrow afternoon. See you on the other side.


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