A Note of Encouragement

A friend of mine is writing his dissertation. He’s in one of those difficult phases and he vented. This is what he said and what I shared in return.

I have been growing more and more unfocused and frustrated w/myself.

Please don’t do that. The more you judge yourself and become disappointed in yourself, the more of that you create. Then, the harder it becomes to overcome each little hump. Instead, I would go in the opposite direction – literally praising yourself and your efforts for every small success. This was the key to turning around my stagnation and transforming it into momentum.

I decided to pick one small, focused, manageable task each day. Not a list. Not several. Not a couple.


I made sure I could and WOULD accomplish that specific task and celebrate and praise myself for that milestone. If I had more energy, I would do other work, but there would be NO PRESSURE to do anything else that day. The next day, I did it again. After about three days I felt like I was floating on air. I had tangible, actual, forward motion. Each tiny step counts, so there’s no need to get bogged down in the “smallness” of a task.

Even if your task is revising one paragraph. Or writing a new intro to a section. Or outlining a *portion* of a chapter. You name it. It all has to get done anyway. If you truly understand the idea of a thousand mile journey beginning with a single step, you will embrace that your dissertation is nothing more than a thousand miles putting one foot in front of the other.

Even if it’s only one step in a day, it counts.

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