PhD tips: Doing your best

By James Hayton,
December 9, 2019
James Hayton is a former physicist, PhD coach and author of "PhD: An uncommon guide"
Since 2010, he's coached hundreds of individual PhD students and now offers
group support and online courses

It’s not about success or failure, but knowing that you did your best.

This is easy to say, but not always so simple to put into practice, because there’s a crucial step that needs to come first.

If you don’t know what you’re aiming for (or what to focus your energy on right now, or whether the course of action you’ve chosen is the right one, or what steps to take to achieve your goal…), it’s very difficult to commit all your attention and energy to the task at hand. You’re stuck before you’ve even begun, and you’ll end the day with that awful feeling that you could have done more.

Here’s the thing; you can’t know with certainty what’s going to happen until you try. That means you have to pick something specific… you have to be certain of your actions, regardless of the uncertainty of outcome… and commit to doing it to the best of your ability.

If it doesn’t work, at least you know you tried your best. You know that the problem isn’t your effort, but maybe that you just need to adapt and try a different way, or that you need to solve a specific problem that you didn’t know about before, or that you need to work on a specific skill.

It’s by not worrying about the end result, making clear choices and acting to the best of your ability that you can start to realise your true potential.

Don’t let indecision be the thing that hold’s you back from doing your best

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