Common Ph.D. obstacles

The struggle is real, and the long, cold nights are getting to me a bit.

It’s no wonder that when I came across some research on mindsets by Dr Alia Crum, I just really soaked it all in.

When mountaineers commit to taking on Mount Everest, they’d be naïve to expect a smooth journey. The same, of course, is true of a dissertation. Did I really expect getting my Ph.D. to be a walk in the park?Alia J. Crum, Ph.D.

Realising first, that the endeavour itself is not meant to be easy was a comfort but second, knowing that I’m not the only one to have felt like I was struggling gave me comfort. It also boosted my motivation this week. You can read a short piece she wrote on her Ph.D. struggle here

If you’re reading this and feeling some pangs of imposter syndrome, remember you aren’t alone. Below are the common struggles most HDR students experience. You’re not alone - even in the midst of a cold, dark night on the side of Everest.

  1. Isolation.  - The great thing about being a research student is that you are part of a larger community. The uni has all sorts of activities and events all-through out the year. Make the most of CaRST activities and join faculty events and clubs. These are great places to meet other researchers.
  • Ph.D. self care project: reaching out
  1. Procrastination – There are numerous resources that give advice on overcoming procrastination that sometimes just doing a Google search on it seems like a procrastination activity in itself. The simplest things work best for me: minimise distractions, remember your reason for undertaking a Ph.D., tackle the hardest task first, promise to reward yourself after, visualise how you would feel when you complete the task, are just a few.
  1. Funding – Speak to your supervisor firstly about the particular support you are looking for. The staff from the Graduate Centre should also be able to help. Don’t think twice about asking for help.
  2. Work and life balance – HDR programs allow us quite a bit of flexibility but with that comes the challenge of ensuring firm boundaries so that work doesn’t overwhelm our lives and that we manage to complete our degrees as timely as possible. Remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint.
  1. Worries for the future - Make sure you surround yourself with encouraging people and draw on their support when times seems particularly difficult or trying.
  1. Motivation - What motivates you? Reflect on this and create a plan on what to do when you’re feeling a bit stressed or tired.
Tagged in What messes with your head, phd, Productivity, self-care, parent-student, international student