Welcome to my blog series! Over the course of the next eight weeks, I will lay out a program to help you launch your dissertation. This series will be aimed at those who have completed their course work and are preparing to set off on their dissertation journey.
What you need to know at the outset is that you are at the beginning of an entirely new process unlike any other you have experienced in graduate school to date. Unless you are very lucky, you have not been expected to do much original, substantial, significant, and independent work throughout your graduate training. Most candidates are not clear about this reality until it is almost too late to turn back. Once you have finished your course work, you have to start all over again on an entirely new and different program. Often, the design of this one is left entirely up to you!
Chances are, in all your busyness and studiousness in grad school, you may have lost sight of the big picture: Why did you start this process in the first place? Since the dissertation is an incredibly formidable undertaking, you should plan to accomplish each step in the process as quickly and as painlessly as possible. The best way to begin is to prepare well, by becoming extremely clear about who you are and where you are headed. Putting a personal foundation in place to support you is essential to reaching your destination.
A positive vision of yourself, your future, and your dissertation is a sure-fire first step to set the path to achieve the success that you deserve. Far too many people begin the journey without an idea of where they want to end up. They take futile detours, get sidetracked, and end up stranded along the way.
The following inventory contains some important questions. If your goal is to be a dissertation winner, you will want to spend some time composing your responses to these “big” questions. The sooner you take time to solidify your personal foundation, the sooner you will be on your way to successfully completing your dissertation.
In this exercise you will take the first step in becoming a Dissertator as you take inventory of your vision, goals, values, weaknesses, and strengths.
The Dissertator’s Vision Inventory
1. What do you really want in life? What does it look like? Design your future by describing what you will be doing.
2. What is your life purpose? What impact do you have on others? What is a metaphor or image of who you will have to be to have that kind of impact on others? What path will you follow to realize your life purpose?
3. What are your most important values? Values are who you are, not who you think you should be. Values represent your uniqueness, your most fulfilling way of expressing yourself. So, beyond basic needs, what must you have in your life to feel fulfilled? If you have these things, you will be honoring your values.
4. Who are you now? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Who do you need to become to get where you want to go? Imagine your ideal self 20 years from now. Describe that future self. What advice does your future self have for you now?
5. What might get in your way of achieving your goals and becoming your future self? Think of both external obstacles and internal obstacles that you may need to overcome.
6. How does your dissertation fit into your vision, life purpose, your values, and your future self? Where do you want your dissertation to take you? What do you need to do to ensure that your dissertation takes you there? What are the next steps to get where you want to go?
Take all the time you need to write down your responses to these questions. By completing the vision inventory honestly and in depth, you are now able to choose whether or not you are willing to commit to leave behind what is comfortable and familiar to undertake the arduous dissertation journey. Until you make a formal commitment, your efforts will likely be ineffective. The next blog will discuss the commitment it takes to complete a dissertation.
Dr. Sally Jensen
I am Principal and Founder of dissertationdoctor.com, which launched in 1997, to help academics achieve their goals. At the time, I had seen many doctoral students floundering and often failing because of the lack of guidance. I decided they needed a Dissertation Doctor to help them succeed without “bang-ups and hang-ups” (to quote Dr. Seuss).
I am a master certified coach, and I help dissertators by nurturing and developing what I call the Creative Scholar. I have guided over 200 Dissertators to successfully complete their doctoral journeys.
Contact Sally Jensen