Welcome to doctoral studies!
Congratulations on starting your doctoral studies! As you embark on your PhD journey, I want to give you 5 tips to make it a little bit less bumpy:
1. Ask for help
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, its a sign of strength and bravery. You’re going to need a lot of help during your PhD and that’s totally ok! Your doctoral studies are preparing you to become a scientist. No one is born ready. You are surrounded by people who want to help you and guide you on your journey. Use them.
2. Focus on your own wellbeing
If you have hobbies, keep them up. Make time to see friends and unwind. Focus on rest and recovery. Remember to pay attention to the health of both your body and your mind. The most important person in your PhD journey is you. So take care of yourself.
3. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes
This one is similar to number 1, but it deserves its own spot. You are going to make a lot of mistakes, and that’s totally ok. Everyone makes mistakes. If you don’t make mistakes, you miss out on important learning experiences. The important thing is to understand what caused the mistake, make modifications, and move on. Fear of failure is rooted deep inside us and it will take a while to come to terms with it. But when you do, your success will see no boundaries.
4. Be kind to yourself
I can’t stress this enough. Be kind to yourself. Have compassion towards yourself like you have towards your friends. Think about how you would cheer up or motivate a friend in a similar situation and then talk to yourself in the same way. Your PhD journey is going to be difficult and sometimes really hard. But you can do it, and you are capable. And it’s ok to feel tired and de-motivated from time to time. Allow yourself these feelings also.
5. Instead of comparing yourself to others, think about what you can learn from others
I don’t want to say ‘Don’t compare yourself to others’ because that’s not a good advice. Of course your going to compare yourself to others; be it peers, seniors or researchers in your field. But instead of falling into despair, that your skills or accomplishments do not match others around you or people you admire, think about what you can learn from others instead. And, most importantly, remember that everyone has a different background and have had different paths that have led them to where they are now. Even the most successful people have had bumpy rides. Reach out and ask about their experiences and their paths. Maybe you’ll be surprised.
I hope you put these tips in an easily accessible location in your brain and return to them, when you need them during your doctoral studies. And if you need more advice and support, don’t hesitate to ask for help. <3