Yesterday it hit me after several intense days of writing; I guess it comes to all doctoral students at some point and those of us doing professional doctorates alongside our day jobs probably experience it more than most. I'm talking about the desperate question of 'Why am I doing this to myself?'.
It's a natural question to ask, after all, I work 32 hours a week as an Associate Lecturer (AL) and the professional doctorate is a four year programme so little different to a more conventional full time doctorate schedule in terms of deadlines and completion. It is very much full on and has to be done alongside my other commitments which also have firm deadlines (I marked nearly 100 assignments in November at approximately 20-25 hours a week).
I don't need to study for a doctorate. I've been an Associate Lecture for 13 years and have no immediate plans to change that as working flexibly from home suits me and I enjoy the contact with students that such a role has. There has never been any pressure from the university for me to study for a doctorate either; it was all my own idea. I've never been one enamoured of status so that is not a consideration. So why bother?
Three of the modules I teach start with an assignment which relates to goal setting or reflective learning, and with very good reason. Having a goal in mind helps to build our resilience when times are hard and gives us a focus for the future, motivating us to overcome the obstacles that occur on the way. I am doing my doctorate because it is a subject that I am passionate about and a story that needs to be told. My research into supporting students with mental health challenges has the power to change lives for the better and that is what spurs me to strive towards the goal.
So how did I overcome yesterday's mental obstacle? Well, I took a break from study for the day. I went for a nice long walk, had a cup of tea and did some AL work instead. Today I'm coming back for a couple of hours work with a clearer, less stressed, mind and some new ideas for my assignment. Every day is a new day.
Have a good weekend.