Remember: Even If You Feel Behind, You’re Not Losing

Sometimes grad school can be a little intimidating. You’re surrounded by brilliant people all the time, and you might start wondering how you fit in.

Especially during the first weeks of a new semester, it seems like everyone has something exciting to report, and you begin to feel stuck and small.

It can be hard to remember that you’re brilliant, too.  That’s why they picked you.

Here are some ways to get you out of your funk and back into the game.

Think about it for a minute

Someone somewhere in your department had faith in your ideas. They read what you wrote, looked at what you’ve done, and decided to train you. You are worth their time (and their grant money). Your adviser, your mentors, and your entire university is vested in your advancement. They care about you.

Talk to another (more experienced) grad student

The more advanced grad students have done it all. Seriously, go find one and pick their brains. Vent to them about your coursework, your ideas, your IRB troubles…whatever. They will likely have ideas or tips from their own experiences. Or at the very least be able to lend a sympathetic ear.

Talk to Your Adviser

And make the most of it. Remember, if you’re the Olympic athlete, your adviser is your coach. Listen and learn.

Get Organized

It’s incredible how much information is out there. I use Evernote to keep track of articles and classnotes that I find helpful. That way they are neat and searchable for when I need them.

Make a (Minimalist) Game Plan

Leo Babauta calls it his three Most Important Tasks. Before you go to bed, list out the three most important things on your to-do list for the next day. When you wake up, address these three tasks first. That way, if nothing else, you accomplish something related to your goals.

Make a (Complex) Game Plan

Maybe you want more than Leo’s method. You like big checklists and huge plans. You want to plan out your time for the entire month.  Look no further than Productive Flourishing’s free planners.  These things are amazing because they encourage objective-based planning. Set goals, and define your path towards them.

Most importantly…

Remember that you’re not losing. Graduate endeavors are individualistic affairs. For the most part, you set your own path and determine how far you go. 

Look at others around you for inspiration and encouragement. Collaborate and commiserate when you need help. But ultimately, you will look forward to focus on your own goals and cross your own finish line.

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photo credit: ….Tim via photo pin cc

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