We tend to thrive when there is certainty in what we do, when we know what it takes to complete a task and know when it is we’ve actually done so. It’s no surprise then that the PhD can fill us with so much anxiety, as it’s full of so much uncertainty.
One thing that many struggle with is the fact that the various chapters in particular and the thesis as a whole are never truly finished. There is always more that can be said, more than can be read or more that could be improved. It never ends.
Most students find this out the hard way after becoming bogged down in one chapter for longer than necessary, seeking the illusive finishing line, or seeking to tie up every loose end and make the chapter perfect. Eventually they realise that the finishing point is constantly shifting, always temptingly out of reach.
This can cause havoc for the perfectionist tendency within many PhD students, as leaving work that is seemingly ‘unfinished’ or not quite perfect is hard and unnatural. But move on you must, because you risk getting stuck otherwise. The more you practice accepting imperfection, the easier it will be.
Remember, your goal is not to make sure your thesis is perfect, it’s to make sure it is good enough.
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