Apathy and Dissertations

November 25th is National Blasé Day. Here are the Top 4 reasons why doctoral student become complacent, frustrated, or just plain stuck…


By definition you are motivated to do what you do and not motivated to do what you don’t do. So, does that mean that doctoral students aren’t motivated to complete their dissertations? Usually not.

Most doctoral I talk with are inspired to make a real difference in the world. They are called to help others. Whether it be coaching or counseling or writing or teaching. Sometimes it’s taking on a leadership role. Other times the call is to serve.

Regardless, the motivation to make the world a better place is unmistakable. In addition, these opportunities tend to be associated with a significantly increased income potential. I’ve talked with more students than I can recall who anticipated being able to earn an extra $30,000 to $50,000 per year as soon as they graduate!

So, the motivation is clearly there. Emotionally, psychologically, and financially, doctoral students have significant incentives to graduate. So, if it’s not motivation, perhaps it’s…


Doctoral students became doctoral students by first being good students. Not just good, but great.

And, great students do great work. They obsess over it. They won’t let anyone see their work until it’s just so.

And, that’s a problem. You don’t get extra credit for a perfect dissertation. In fact, there’s really no such thing. But, students waste inordinate amounts of time in pursuit of this impossible goal.

Forget about perfection. Instead strive for completion.

Time Management

Almost all of our students are adult working professionals. They have families and full-time jobs. Church and community commitments. There are nearly limitless excuses for not having time to work on your dissertation. But, you know what? Our students always find the time.

So, why can some students find the time while others cannot? In my experience, it’s seldom about time, instead it’s about direction.

When I speak with students who claim they don’t have time to work on their dissertation, more often than not they ultimately admit to not knowing what to do.

If you don’t know what to do to move forward on your dissertation, spending time working on it anyway is a frustrating experience. One that students will avoid, if at all possible, making a lack of time an easy go-to excuse.


So, if a student is frustrated because he or she doesn’t know how to move forward with the dissertation process, why not just reach out for help?

As a dissertation coach, I’ve spent a lot of time talking with students about this, and for many of them it comes down to a matter of pride.

Students often feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness. In fact, they couldn’t be farther from the truth. It takes confidence to admit that you could use some help. And, it takes intelligence to recognize that leveraging the experience of others is often the quickest and surest way to developing that expertise yourself.

Ask any CEO, top athlete, or world leader whether he or she had a coach or mentor who made a real difference in their life and career. I challenge you to find even one who can truthfully say no.

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...

Let's Talk About Your Dissertation
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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