Confidence as a verb

How to Build Confidence as an Academic

You might not feel confident as an academic researcher and writer. Many of us–both graduate students and post-PhD researchers alike–worry if we are intelligent enough, skilled enough, and disciplined enough. Frankly, we worry if we are imposters.  Confidence is defined as a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities. Because confidence is a noun, we tend to think of it as something we either have or don’t have, based on how we feel. But what if we imagine practicing

Imposter Syndrome

Will the Real Academic Please Stand Up? Imposter Syndrome and the Academy

As dissertation coaches, we are aware of the many obstacles our clients face, and especially, the ones that are the most common. On a daily basis, we see clients who are incredibly smart, hardworking, and resourceful, but struggle with feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. No matter what they have achieved, they often feel like they aren’t good enough writers, or that their conclusions are weak or their methodology is questionable. In less extreme forms, these feelings may manifest simply as nervous butterflies and motivate them

Staying Connected to Academic Work in the Time of COVID-19

Staying Grounded & Connected to Academic Work in the Time of COVID-19

When we imagined the world in 2020, we didn’t conceive of this very strange and frightening reality of COVID-19. But here we are, living in some kind of dystopian existence, where our world has been turned upside down by a global pandemic. Just a little while ago, we were unfamiliar with terms like social distancing, shelter in place, safer at home, or flattening the curve. Few of us have ever experienced empty supermarket shelves, toilet paper and hand sanitizer shortages, or scrambling to recalibrate our

Motivational poster for the new year of 2020

Finish Your Dissertation in 2020: Set Intentions Instead of Resolutions

Have you started a new year with a resolution to exercise more, lose weight, or be more productive only to lose sight of your goal within a few months or weeks? If so, you are not alone. Setting resolutions can produce behavioral changes, but those changes are often only temporary. When you set a resolution, you tend to reference the past (what do I need to fix or change so I avoid repeating my past) or your future (what do I need to do to

Graph paper notebook with my mistakes written in marker

Taming the Inner Critic in Graduate School

As you work toward earning a graduate degree there is an internal voice that is near impossible to avoid, the voice of the “inner critic.” This voice may criticize your intelligence, writing, analytical skills, or other abilities, doubt whether you have what it takes to earn a graduate degree, or call you names such as lazy, stupid, or incompetent. Left unchecked, the inner critic can be far more than an inventory of perceived shortcomings, it can do great harm diminishing your productivity and even leave

Wooden bridge crossing stream surrounded by multi-colored forest

Finish Your Dissertation: The Who, What, When, Where, Why, & How of Productivity

Finishing a dissertation requires that you complete thousands of tasks. While you only need to complete one task at a time, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the enormity of all the work that lies ahead. At The Dissertation Coach, we use the metaphor of crossing bridges as a way to help our clients think about the work they need to complete task by task. We frequently remind graduate students that they just need to cross one bridge at a time. For example, a

Closeup of a written work with several revisions written in red ink

Overwhelmed by Dissertation Revisions? Make an Inventory

Many years ago, I received what seemed like unnecessarily harsh feedback on my first first-authored submission to an academic journal. The editor and reviewers expressed issues with every section of the article. I still remember one of the reviewers stating the closing paragraph of the article sounded like a “soap opera” ending. Ouch! That comment hurt. This article was based on my master’s thesis and I was deeply invested in my research and my findings. Given how critical the feedback seemed, I was surprised that

Fountain pen resting on notebook with several entries written in black ink

The Power of Writing Rituals

Spring is here in the northern hemisphere. The sky has cleared. Bare tree branches are beginning to send out green shoots. It’s not only nature that is sprouting anew. At this time of year, our minds also turn to thoughts of renewal. For millenia, peoples around the world have celebrated the end of winter. Easter, Passover, Nowruz, Holi, the births of Rama and Hanuman, and many, many more. Each of these religious holidays, plus many other secular rites, involve age-old rituals. Often colorful and filled

Chrome laptop on white chic desk with potted cacti behind it

Making Your Dissertation Environment Work for You

Take a scan of your work environment right now. What do you see? Is your desk cluttered, messy, amok with papers, books, and files? Is your space an environment where you can focus easily and concentrate? Are you able to find what you need? Is it clean? Inviting? Do you like being there? Do you feel inspired to get down to business and work? While it might seem obvious that your work environment would have a big impact on your productivity, it’s easy to feel

Timer that looks like a tomato in reference to the Pomodoro Technique

Use Tomatoes to Finish Your Dissertation: The Pomodoro Technique

If you overheard our coaches talking to our clients, you might wonder why we keep mentioning the word tomatoes. Yes, tomatoes are a frequent part of our coaching vernacular. The term comes from Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique, a deceptively simple, yet highly effective approach to improving focus and productivity. When Cirillo developed the technique, he called it “pomodoro,” which is Italian for tomato, because he named it after the tomato shaped timer he used to divide his time into twenty-five minute intervals. The basic idea