BY ALISON MILLER, PHD, OWNER OF THE DISSERTATION COACH & KATHRYN PETERSON, PHD, DISSERTATION COACH
On December 28, we posted the first of four articles providing inspiration for completing your dissertation in 2019. The first article focused on setting intentions for the New Year rather than making resolutions, since resolutions often fail. In this second article of this series, we’ll present practical steps you can take to reinforce your intentions and make them a reality.
WRITE DOWN YOUR INTENTIONS
As suggested in the first article of this series, start by using your heart and mind to feel your way into what intentions (guiding principles for how you want to show up in life) would serve you as you seek to finish your dissertation. “Be deliberate,” “Work courageously through challenges,” and “Be kind to myself and others” are all examples of intentions. We encourage you to write down your intentions somewhere you’ll see them, so they are not forgotten or ignored. One way to do that is simply to write them on a piece of paper and hang them where you will see them daily. Try writing them on stones using permanent marker or even post your intentions on Facebook and save the post as a background on your computer. Whatever you do, find a way to keep your intentions visible as ongoing sources of wisdom and encouragement.
One of Alison’s intentions for 2019 is “Step Back and See What Matters.” For her, this guideline is a reminder that by pausing and focusing on the bigger picture and what truly matters, she is better able to move through life in a clear, deliberate, relaxed and thoughtful manner. Stepping back and seeing what matters helps Alison keep her hands on the “steering wheel” of life. Will she lose sight of this intention? No doubt. But keeping the intention written down in a meaningful place is a key step to making sure she returns to it.
END OF YEAR, BEGINNING OF YEAR CEREMONIES
Another way of clarifying and reinforcing you intentions is to do a brief ritual or ceremony where you actually name the year. Brian Padian, writer and director of the movie The Black Sea, says that he and his wife have a ritual every year where they make a list of their best and worst moments of the previous year, and then they “name the year to come and celebrate being alive.” He said they say things like “Year of the New,” or “Year of Travel and Good Fortune,” and so on. He says that doing this is like “energetically planting a flag for the things we want to summon/experience.” Can you imagine if you did your own brief naming ceremony and named 2019 “The Year of Research and Exploration” or “2019, The Year of Defense and Graduation?” What do you think you could name your year that would help you visualize how better to intentionally move forward with your dissertation?
Still another fun way of visualizing the new year and setting intentions is to create a vision board. For the past few years, Kathryn has participated in a vision boarding session with several other women. At an art studio with a poster board, magazines, and scissors in hand, she cut out words, phrases and images that inspired her and expressed what she wants this upcoming year to be about. Using a glue stick and her intuition, she created a beautiful collage representing her intentions for the year. Every time Kathryn looks at the board she feels connected to her vision and how she wants to show up in her life. It is hanging on her bedroom wall opposite her bed, so it is the first thing she sees upon waking.
Vision boards can be a great way to discover your intentions, reinforce them and deepen your connection to what they really mean in your life. You can, for instance, put the word FINISH on your board, or a picture of a runner crossing a finish line. You could also put a picture of a writer at a computer with a relaxed but productive expression to remind yourself that the writing process doesn’t have to be so stressful, You could even cut out the the picture of a researcher or writer you admire and put that on the board. Again, the idea is to think about what images, thoughts, and intentions you want to set the tone for the year. By spending a little time actually creating a visualization of your intentions, you are more likely to internalize them in a deeper way. Representation is a powerful tool.
The most important benefit of any of these rituals is that they help you make a conscious shift to think about what you most need to do in the upcoming year to make your intentions manifest. Yes, it is likely you will lose sight of your intentions at times but they are always there waiting for you to help guide and shape your behavior and choices.
2019 FOR YOU
What about you? If you had to give 2019 a name in terms of your dissertation, what would you call it? Or if you were doing a vision board, what images might you choose? What kinds of tangible behaviors align with your intentions that will help you make progress on your dissertation? We encourage you to keep clarifying and reinforcing your intentions throughout the year and to tell us about your progress.