Hikes and Dissertations

November 17th is National Take a Hike Day. Here are my Top 5 Hiking-Related Tips for Getting Your Dissertation Done…

1. A Journey of a Thousand Miles…

We often talk about the dissertation as a journey. After all, there is a definite beginning, a definite ending, and quite a distance to cover between the two!

Moreover, there are efficient routes to graduation and inefficient routes. Some students turn over every rock, photograph every bird & butterfly, and catalog every flower on the way up the mountain. Other students choose the freeway, putting their dissertation on the fast track to graduation.

You can choose to focus on on the journey or you can choose to focus on the destination. I’m certainly partial to the latter, but the choice is yours. Whichever approach you choose, the important thing to remember is that the journey begins with a single step.

If you haven’t taken your first step yet, do it now. And, after you’ve taken your first step, take another, and another. The only sure way to fail is to stop. So, keep those feet moving!

2. Relax, Refocus, Recharge 

From the metaphorical to the literal. Sometimes it’s good just to get outside. To get the blood pumping. To breathe in the fresh air.

I’ve spoken before about Dr. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and how important it is to take time away from your work. Taking a break helps you gain a new perspective on whatever problem you were puzzling out. Engaging in an activity that you enjoy lowers your stress and just plain makes you happy.

And, when you return to work, you’re often surprised to find that your brain has been chewing on your problem in the background. This type of subconscious processing is exactly how so many recognized geniuses describe their biggest breakthroughs… Eureka! in the bathtub. Gravity from an apple falling onto Newton’s head.

So, whether you enjoy a good walk, run, ride, or hike — or something else entirely — take time out for yourself. Engage in your hobbies as a means of recharging. Your dissertation will thank you for it!

3. Make Exercise and Your Dissertation Daily Habits 

Speaking of habits and hobbies. Taking time out for exercise, specifically, provides many benefits that directly help with your dissertation.

In addition to the many health benefits we all know, research has shown that regular exercise reduces stress, improves mood, increases self-confidence, alleviates anxiety, sharpens memory, and prevents cognitive decline. If exercise would only help you in one of these areas, do you think you could get your dissertation done faster? Absolutely.

So, set aside at least a half hour for exercise and an hour-and-a-half to three hours for your dissertation five to six days a week. And, exercising doesn’t mean going to the gym necessarily. You could always take a hike!

4. Attitude Adjustment

You’ll get through the dissertation (and life in general) with far greater success if you think positively rather than negatively.

So, tell those negative thoughts and inner voices, “Take a hike! Scram!” It can actually help to use you best 1940s, film-noir voice, here.

5. What a Sense of Accomplishment!

Do you know why they teach military recruits to make their beds every morning in basic training? There are indoctrination, discipline, and uniformity components to be sure. But, the real reason is to create a little win each morning to start the day.

It may sound silly, but making your bed, and doing it well, provides a sense of accomplishment. And, hey, if I can accomplish this, what else can I do?

You should create opportunities for yourself to accomplish something each day. Set a goal and make it happen! It could be as simple as making your bed or taking a two-mile hike.

Success breeds success, so give yourself something to point to and say, “I did that!” Before you know it, you’ll be pointing to your doctoral degree on the wall!

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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