Things will never be perfect. ⁣

There’s no magic moment where everything in your PhD is perfect, fixed, exactly where you want it. ⁣

There will always be things wrong, and there will always be things that are imperfect. ⁣

Yet we can often expect perfection from ourselves. Most PhD students I know are perfectionists, and such perfectionism in the context of a PhD can be a toxic combination, precisely because the thesis is never perfect. ⁣

There are a couple of important things to take from this. ⁣

The first is that you need to embrace imperfection and learn to live with it. The moment you stop expecting perfection (and realising that no one is expecting perfection from you either), the moment you can start to give yourself a break and go easy on yourself. ⁣

The second is that you can approach imperfection in a more productive way. By leaning into it and learning to live with it, you can start to ask what that imperfection can teach you – are there lessons to be learnt from the mistakes you’ve made, or from the things that aren’t quite right? Can you learn something that you will take with you for the future? ⁣

Part of the challenge of doing a PhD is learning to embrace imperfection. Related to that, you’ll need to learn how to manage your inner critic, the voice in your head that is doing its best to convince you that anything less than perfection is an abomination. The more you can listen to that voice and tame it, the more easily you will find yourself able to embrace and love imperfection. ⁣

So my advice today is similar to that on Friday. When you notice that inner critic telling you that perfection is the only option, tell it to shut up.⁣

Good luck and have a great week.   


Hello, Doctor…

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