Fools and Dissertations

April 1st is April Fool’s Day. Does your dissertation seem like one big April’s Fools joke?…

I’m not going to try to trick you. I’m too nice of a guy for that. Plus, I don’t think you’d fall for it. But maybe you are feeling the fool today because you’ve fallen for someone else’s tricks?

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.
—Richard P. Feynman

Are you fooling yourself about anything with your dissertation?

How about the length of time it is going to take you to finish?

Underestimating the time it is going to take you to finish a project (in your case, your dissertation) despite all evidence that it will take longer is so common it has a special name: the planning fallacy. The planning fallacy even applies to those who have experience doing the actual thing they are doing a terrible job planning.

Guess what, you’re going to be even worse at predicting how long it will take, because this is your first time writing a dissertation. Being fooled by the planning fallacy doesn’t make you a fool. It just makes you human. However, you do need to know that it takes most people at least 300-500 hours of diligent work to complete their dissertation. Take those numbers and start planning!

The wise man does at once what the fool does finally.
—Niccolo Machiavelli

Are you telling yourself you’ll start working on that section of your dissertation tomorrow, or next week, or after some other milestone? I wouldn’t always encourage you to follow Machiavelli’s advice, but in this case…hop to it! Get started now…at once!

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.
—W. C. Fields

Never one to pull any punches, Fields has a point. I’m not saying you should quit your dissertation, but you should quit doing it the way you’re doing it.

Try something different. Shake things up. Get creative!

Or, stop being so creative. Get down to brass tacks. Nose to the grindstone.

I can’t tell you exactly which cliché is apropos for you at this time.

You probably need to quit a habit you’ve developed that is holding you back. Maybe your scope is too large, and you need to narrow it down.

The point here is that you shouldn’t just keep beating your head against the wall. You may need to change directions drastically to start making real progress.

If you’re ready to quit what you’re doing now a try something different, click here to schedule a quick, 15-minute chat with me to see if you’re a good fit for our Fast Track Your Dissertation Coaching Program. If you are, then I’ll invite you to join the fastest group of dissertation students out there and help you to reach graduation a good year or two faster than you would on your own.

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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