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Maintaining Motivation During a Doctoral Process

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

While one is on the journey through their own doctoral process, they may harvest feelings coinciding with lack of motivation at stressful times. As obtaining a Ph.D. or professional doctorate takes years and years to accomplish, it is not uncommon for candidates to become tiresome of endless feedback and the revision cycle that comes along with submitting a dissertation. This feeling may be amplified by the candidate comparing themselves to peers around them who are not obtaining their Ph.D. or professional doctorate and appear to have much less stress in their lives, as well as pressure from family members asking when the program will be completed.


It is important for the candidate to realize that they have the ability to complete this process. They can try to take time to try writing everyday at the same time to form habits within their doctoral process. The candidate can try sharing with friends and family that they need some quiet time in order to write without distractions heavily influencing their time. As families may become frustrated with the candidates dedication to research, the candidate can take a day to do something fun or relaxing with family. This will satisfy the family members’ request for quality time, as well as allowing the candidate to become refreshed and ready to tackle their workload again after their day of relaxation.


To hold on to motivation, the candidate could consider finding an accountability partner. This partner may be someone who is also a doctorate candidate themselves or the holder of a doctoral degree. By doing this, the candidate will be able to share the struggles of their doctoral process with somebody who fully understands what they are going through. Although leaning on friends and family outside of the program can be helpful, having someone who understands what the doctoral process is actually like can make a difference when it comes to emotional support. Posting up a picture of what motivates the doctoral candidate can also be a refresher for motivation when it comes to them needing a reminder of why they are completing the program. Remembering the “why” in a doctoral program is essential to making it to the finish line.


Anika Mohaparta, PhD student at the University of Memphis, stated that when going through the doctoral process, it was important for her to know her limits. Obtaining a Ph.D. is a lengthy process that while being completed, still warrants the busyness and hectic happenings of life to still proceed around a candidate. Mohaparta stated that at one point during her doctoral process, she became overwhelmed due to the profound emotional and professional fronts laid out before her. To keep her drive of motivation afloat in her program, she knew it was time to take a short break and allocate some time to herself in order to focus on her mental health. In order for a candidate not getting to a point of being burnt-out, it is recommended that they take breaks consisting of short increments that promote the use of healthy time management, as longer breaks may not be beneficial in terms of efficiency. Listening to and respecting mental health cues will allow a candidate to keep sharp motivation and become successful in all aspects of life while pursuing a Ph.D. or professional doctorate.



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