In my last therapy session of the year, we discussed how I was going to tackle my thesis. I told my therapist that I would take the week between Christmas and New Year off. But then, on the 2nd of January I would try starting with a 8-10 hour thesis session. This was the only possible way I’d get it done by the end of the month. I’d focus on it exclusively and cut out as many distractions as possible.

She disagreed with me. She said that I’d clearly tried this approach for many years, either with studying or working, and it didn’t work. It would create a destructive cycle for me, which might look something like this:

  • I’d set an overly ambitious target for my first day of work, which would sound great in theory
  • I wouldn’t have any structures in place to ensure that it would be achieved. This includes the necessary habits, planning, feedback, commitment devices and support.
  • I’d manage a few minutes to an hour at best, because my willpower would be exhausted quickly
  • I’d then get frustrated with myself and get anxious about the situation.
  • This would lead to me preventing myself from doing other things, like socialising or exercising. This is either because I was punishing myself or I was too anxious to.
  • I’d go to bed disappointed, so I’d set an even bigger goal for the day after.
  • And then the cycle would repeat

Starting Gently 

Instead of this, my therapist suggested a different approach. This includes the following:

  • Scheduling social events first. This scared my a little to begin with, but it provides an anchor point for the day to plan around. It also ensures that I don’t isolate myself and that I have something to take my mind off the thesis when I need to. My aim is for most of these to be in the afternoon.
  • Having a thesis partner. My thesis partner gets back from holiday on 8 Jan, and we’ll work together after that. We’ll also keep each other accountable
  • Build up the habit. Instead of diving straight into superman mode, I should build up a habit of thesising. This would start with an hour on the first day and gently build up until I was able to handle it without exerting massive amounts of willpower
  • Public accountability. I’ll be sharing a tiny update of one line at the end of each blog, just so that I’m forced to be publicly accountable.

I’ve adopted this approach, and am gently going to build momentum with my thesis.

And I’m less scared than I thought as I’d be. In fact, after starting today I’m already feeling more confident about the journey

Image is of the care pack that Kayleen got me for the start of my thesising. It includes everything from stationery to emergency chocolates and a tissues to bubbly to pop when I hand in 🙂 Thanks Kay!


Thesis update: 1 hour of work done today which included planning and some reading.


Blog 57/365. Read more about my #365of25 journey here


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