It is important to take your future in your own hands. Don’t allow excuses or difficulties to interfere with progress on your dissertation. It may seem that the Chairperson has impossible standards – or maybe he or she will not respond to telephone and e-mail communication.

You may even find that some committee members do not get along with each other. This can cause conflicts that you will have to address. However, in spite of the many unexpected difficulties that can come up, you alone are responsible for your outcome. Only your effort will get the job done on time.

It is important to be accountable and to “walk your talk.” Stick to your word, keep your appointments, and submit your drafts by the due dates. Work toward the “Write, Revise, Write” habit to get your dissertation done faster. This steady progress will take you far in completing your dissertation.

I recall going through a period of inactivity when I was writing my own dissertation. I could not understand why my Chair did not call to check on my progress. A feeling of resentment permeated my thinking. I thought, “Doesn’t he care? He always seemed so helpful and now he’s ignoring me.”

Well, I had things all wrong. It was not his responsibility to check on me, to motivate me. It was my dissertation and I had to be the one to get into action. I finally got up enough courage to call my Chair asked if I could meet with him. It was on a Saturday and he was moving, packing things in boxes. He said if I didn’t mind coming over to his house, he could talk to me for about 15 minutes.

When I arrived, he was in the garage sorting through his things and all dirty. That was okay with me. I just had to get activated and making progress on my dissertation. I gathered up the courage to confess that I had been procrastinating and just “goofing off.” I asked him if he still wanted to be my Chair. He said he did and that he liked my topic. He was not upset with me. He said he knew when I was ready, I would call.

I asked him if he would be willing to meet with me once a week whether I had written anything or not.

He agreed.

He only had one stipulation. I had to meet with him at his home.

When I would arrive, his wife always had a plate of homemade cookies or some other munchies and pot of fresh coffee. Once I started those weekly meetings, I didn’t stop until I was finished with the rough draft. I was so glad I took the initiative and called my Chair!

If you feel stuck, take action. Instead of making excuses, sometimes it’s okay to admit that you didn’t know what to do. As I mentioned earlier this is a good time to trust yourself, and write what you know to be true or use your literature to paraphrase points to keep you going.

For me I had to be willing to admit my own inactivity and ask for help. Ask for weekly meetings with your Chairperson; whether in person, by phone, or by email. This will make all the difference in the world and you will start to make the steady progress needed to complete your dissertation.