Many, many people lead happy, fulfilling lives, build lucrative and rewarding careers, make important contributions to knowledge, share interesting ideas with others, and generally get along just fine without three letters after their names. It also does not mean that you have wasted the time and money that you invested in the degree up to the ABD stage.
It may simply mean that after considering your own personal motivations and goals, you decided this career choice wasn’t for you—and that you plan to use the skills you honed as a graduate student in other ways that are more suited to you. Unlike the elaborate study strategies you developed in order to pass your comprehensive exams, writing the dissertation will enable you to start developing a set of valuable research and writing skills.
Sometimes, however, those three elements can prove to be major external sources of frustration.
So how can you manage them to help yourself be as productive as possible?
If you find yourself questioning your commitment to your dissertation or a career in academia, consider these tactics: This may be a time to ask yourself what the Ph. means to you and whether you really want to continue.
Remember that what it means to you and what it means to your partner, family, or friends may be very different. You might try free-writing about your topic and the reasons it inspires you.
When you embark on this large, independent project, you may begin to ask yourself questions about your future in academia.
After all, the dissertation is the beginning of the end of a graduate career.
Writing a dissertation is a lot like writing a book. There are usually no weekly deadlines from professors, no regular discussions with classmates, no reading assignments, no one telling you what to do—you are on your own, writing something longer than you’ve ever written, and doing it without a net.
This independence can make the process seem very intimidating.