Milk Chocolate and Dissertations

Milk Chocolate and Dissertations

July 28th is National Milk Chocolate Day. When I was a child, milk chocolate was a special treat. And, if anyone needs a treat, it’s dissertation students…

We didn’t have much when I was growing up. Didn’t miss it, either. That’s just how things were. We’d go out to eat once every month or two. Maybe see a movie a couple of time a year. But, my favorite indulgence came at the holidays and those rare treats where I got chocolate!

My favorite candy at the time was a 3 Musketeers bar…a perfect milk chocolate shell with rich, fluffy chocolate filling. Mmmmmm…

“But, what does all this chocolate talk have to do with my dissertation?” —  It’s all about rewarding yourself.

I’ve talked about Dr. Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” before. Habit 7, “Sharpen the Saw,” speaks to the importance of relaxing and recharging.

My children attended an elementary school that used the Seven Habits as the framework for their approach to education and behavior. At most elementary schools, if you ask the children what’s the favorite part of their day, they answer “Lunch and recess!” At my kids’ school, if you ask them their favorite Covey Habit, they say “Sharpen the Saw!”

Kids know deeply what adults sometimes forget — That it’s important to play, not to avoid work, but to be more productive when you’re working. Americans eschew vacation days in service of perfect attendance at work… a practice which leads to zombie employees trudging through the days, week, and months.

Do you ever feel like a zombie doctoral student, mindlessly trudging forth toward the vague notion of completing your dissertation? When you think about your dissertation, do you feel energized and inspired or frustrated and numb?

If it’s the later, part of the problem is that you’re not setting yourself up for success. You need to break your dissertation into manageable chunks, blocks of work that you can complete in a week or two.

Define a goal. Create a plan. Achieve your objective. And, then…

Celebrate! That’s right. Don’t wait until you graduate to recognize your accomplishments. Recognize that progress is an accomplishment. That creating a draft is an accomplish. A draft of your ten points, prospectus, concept paper, proposal, dissertation. Each of these is an accomplish. Each moves your a step closer to your ultimate goal of graduation.

So celebrate each of your accomplishments. Reward yourself on a regular basis. Perhaps it’s a night out (or in!) with your spouse. Perhaps it’s a good bottle of wine. Perhaps it’s a bar of milk chocolate! (Though I must confess being partial to dark chocolate these days.)

Whatever your reward, celebrate often. The dissertation journey is long, and progress is something to be celebrated!

If you need extra support and guidance to make it to graduation, I may be able to help. If you'd like to find out whether you qualify for the support we offer throughout the dissertation process, then...

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.

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