Deciding to do a PhD is actually a very hard decision to make. That is because you literally have to dedicate the next 4 years of your life to unnumbered pressure tests, sleepless nights, and too many cups of coffee. Your brain will also be in overdrive most of the time causing anxiety and stress. Thinking about it now, I do question why I decided to do it.
One of the most common questions I get about my PhD study is HOW I stay motivated. Although it may sound like a simple, straight forward question, it is extremely difficult to answer.
On multiple occasions I have told people that its because I love what I do, and although this is party true, that is not the reason behind my motivation. I’m not going to lie, self-motivation takes time and effort but I am lucky enough to have help and support from my friends and family. As long as your network of people is there for you and patient with you while you throw many unnecessary tantrums, motivation becomes a less tedious task.
The other thing that I love to do to motivate myself is make up mood boards. I put together pictures, clippings, quotes and people that inspire me to do and be better. My favourites I have pinned to my desk as daily reminders of what I can achieve. Mood boards aren’t for everyone but they may be interpreted in different ways. For example, I don’t carry a BOARD around per se but rather use my journal as my creative canvass.
Blogs are another platform I use to help gain some motivation. I love reading Daniella Monet’s blog. I find her to be so empowering and inspiring. But there are so many out there, all you have to do is find one or two or three and you’re set! Off course, social pages, websites and so on can work too. I know many people who hate reading blogs and I always suggest inspiring instagram accounts for these people.
Recently, I have started listening to podcasts that inspire me. For example, one of my favourite podcasts to download is Gretchen Reuben’s Happier. In each episode, Gretchen provides a number of tips that you can include in your daily life in order to be healthier and happier. I use these to motivate myself to write or research or attend conferences or whatever be the case. I do this by enjoying the PROCESS (something Gretchen has taught me) rather than the final product. I think this is essential as you remind yourself that it’s not about the PhD but rather about the EXPERIENCE that the PhD brings. Off course, it doesn’t have to be a PhD, this concept can be applied to any project where self-motivation is essential.
I also love to set myself goals and deadlines (must be the journalist in me). These help me reach what I want in a good time frame. It is important to remember not to exhaust yourself with this though. All goals and deadlines must be realistic and it is also important to remember that if these goals are not reached it won’t be the end of the world.
I guess, at the end of the day, I don’t really know what motivates me. It is a mixture of so many different things. I am open to suggestions if any one has any other ways in which they motivate themselves. Please leave me a comment below and I will try it out.