Doing a PhD is like doing a jigsaw puzzle.
When you first start, you’ve got a pile of pieces in front of you and you haven’t got any idea what goes where. The thought that you’ll end up with a finished puzzle seems almost impossible.
And then you start working out what goes where. You start with the easy bits – the edges and corners – and then start to piece together the rest of it. As you do so, you constantly find yourself making mistakes. Mostly you pick the wrong pieces, but occasionally something fits. Then you repeat the process: mostly wrong; sometimes right.
And as you do this you find yourself frustrated and impatient. But gradually – very gradually – you start to fill in more and more pieces.
Gradually, the puzzle becomes easier. For every piece you slot into place, the finished picture becomes clearer. That’s when you get real momentum. And the final stages of the puzzle become immeasurably easier than the initial stages, because you can more clearly see what goes where and how it all fits together.
Your PhD is the same: you start off with no clue of what goes where. But as you slowly start to slot things together – after many, many mistakes and dead ends – you start to get a clearer picture of what goes where and how it fits together. Then, as you do so, the picture becomes clearer and your life becomes easier.
Over time, you start to realise that you’re going to finish it, and you’ve almost slotted everything together. And that’s the sweetest feeling of all.
Good luck and have a great weekend