Yes, it's the holidays.
Yes, you have a cold.
Yes, your Mom is calling
No, you don't have wrapping paper and you forgot where you filed your flight info.
All this is true.
and YES you still have a dissertation/book/article to finish.
So, the instinct is to say "Screw it, it will have to wait until the New Year."
I am all for taking a few days off. I'll be taking a break next week. That break, however, is planned. Not an accidental break that occurred as a result of defeat.
To support you during this season that begs you to eat sugar and forget your commitments, I wanted to share a little piece of delicious advice from Barbara Sher.
Almost twenty years ago, I found myself graduating from college with no idea what to do with my life. Graduating early seemed really cool, but the clock ran out. Somehow, I stumbled on a little 10 cassette program about finding your passion.
It was cassette format so you can imagine how long ago this was.
Now, hokey as it may sound to you serious folks, Sher's program was terrific for me. She had me hang up index cards on my wall filled with dreams. Then she had me pull one off at a time and do it...it worked. I soon found myself Swing dancing all over Philadelphia and rollerblading down to the art museum.
Her handy little method helped pull me from a blur partly caused by 4 years of philosophy back into life.
Her program helped me decide to move to San Francisco and ultimately become the Manager of the Institute for Health and Healing Resource Center. A wonderful Institute and a wonderful job.
So what's in this for you?
Barbara Sher's Gift to Writers
Barbara (she doesn't know but we're on a first name basis), had this wonderful little technique for getting yourself moving when you feel like your feet are stuck in cement.
Here's her strategy....
1. Pick the smallest little part of the project you are willing to do.
2. Think about one thing you love about it.
She gave the example of a swimmer having to at least stick her toe in the water everyday and think of one thing about swimming she liked.
You won't believe how cool this is and how effective it is against writing resistance.
Give it a try. Pick at least one tiny little thing you can do today on your project. It may be just holding a book you have to read. Or, she recommends, walking around the room with your manuscript in your hand.
It might be emailing your adviser with your time plan for the next few months. When you do it, think of one thing you like about it.
You may like the feel of the book or you might recall what you liked about your adviser enough to choose him. You'll see, it's powerful. Then you might be inspired to do something else...soon you'll be full on in action.
But don't worry if it's really just a small thing the next few days. Just keep it in motion.
This is ultimately the idea behind the book Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day.
Let me know how it goes.
I'm still taking coaching clients, so please feel free to email me at email@example.com.
And I will be leading a dissertation intensive the third week in February through George Mason University.
Sarah Federman, PhD