Do This Every Day so You Can Feel Better and Finish Your Dissertation

In the post, I will discuss the number one tool I use every day that helped me finish my dissertation AND continues to help me to publish, run a business, and kill it at my full-time job.

Sound familiar?

How is that I’m still writing my dissertation prospectus? I mean, I have spent all this time working on it. I’ve given up my Saturdays, instead of spending time with friends and family. I’m writing all of the time. I’ve missed birthday parties, vacations, and holidays all in the name of this dissertation. I know I could be doing more but I’m just so tired. I’m tired of giving all these hours and energy to this program, to this dissertation only to be stuck in the same place. Where is my support? Why is my committee making this so hard? If only they could tell me what I EXACTLY needed to do, I could be done already. I’m tired of going on Facebook and seeing all of these people from my program with their pictures of them defending their dissertations. When will it be my turn?

Would you believe me if I told you that it was as simple as changing your thoughts and you would finish your dissertation in no time?

Last week, we discussed The Self Coaching Model, the tool that helped me complete my dissertation in no time. The tool I still use every day that helps me to continuously publish, run a business, and kill it at my full-time job.

Remember, the basic premise of The Model is that our thoughts control our emotions. Our emotions control our actions. Our actions determine the results we get in life. So, if we want different results, like finishing your dissertation, then you have to work on changing your thoughts.

This isn’t an overnight process.

This isn’t a glamorous or sexy process.

It’s slow and at time grueling.

But, it’s worth it.

This process will not only help you to write your dissertation, it’ll CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

Don’t you want to feel better?

Don’t you want to be happy?

Friend, I suggest you give The Model a try.


Let me tell you what I do each morning.

Daily Routine

I open my eyes looking around a dark room, it’s warm under my blankets. I notice a slither of light on the nightstand, it’s my phone’s alarm going off telling me it’s 4 AM.

Yep, you read that write. I wake up at 4 AM to get my day started. (That’s a story for another time.)

I put on my pants, a long sleeve shirt, a thick cardigan, socks, and slippers (it’s cold in Wisconsin) before heading to the kitchen to brew my coffee.

With my coffee in hand, I sit down, light a candle and then pull out a large sketchbook that I use every morning.

I spend the next 10 minutes or so writing down every thought that comes to mind. I mean every thought, from “it’s too cold.”, “why am I up at 4?”, to “I wonder if I should have wings for dinner.”

The goal is to fill up the page with my thoughts. This process is called a Thought Download (or a Brain Dump)

After the page is filled, I spend a few minutes looking over what I’ve written before selecting a thought to focus on for the day.

I use that thought I selected and I complete two models for that thought. The first model is what is called an Unintentional model. I complete it in order for me to see the effect of that thought. The second model is called an Intentional model and the goal of this to create the effects I want instead.

I then close the sketchbook and move on to the rest of my morning routine.

It’s that simple.

Let me share an example so you can get a better idea of what this looks like.

Back to the Example


Let’s go back to the opening paragraph and let's just say this describes our feelings for the day.

Our Thought Download may look something like this:

  • When will I finish this dissertation?

  • Why am I being so lazy?

  • I am so much smarter than those other people.

  • My chair is not helping me enough.

  • No one gets my dissertation topic.

  • Maybe I can just go get a job.

  • Who needs a dissertation anyway.

  • I can’t handle this, it’s too much.

Next, we review the list and pick a thought to focus on. Let’s pick the last one, “I can’t handle this, it’s too much.”  

So, let’s complete the Intentional Model:

Intentional Model

Circumstance: Finishing the dissertation proposal

Thought: I can at least do one thing right now.

Feeling: Confident

Actions: Read one article. Complete Literature Review spreadsheet with information from the same article. Write a quick paragraph for a section of the Literature Review. Watch Tidying Up on Netflix for the next 3 hours while smoking week and eating wings. Pass out on the couch.

Result: Made progress on the Literature Review. One step closer to finishing your dissertation proposal.

We will use this for the Unintentional model:

Unintentional Model

Circumstance: Finishing the dissertation proposal

Thought: I can’t handle this, it’s too much.

Feeling: Defeated.

Actions: Read over chapter 2 for two minutes. Decide to just turn on the tv for background noise. End up watching Tidying Up on Netflix for 3 hours. Realize it’s 12 AM. Start crying. Smoke weed. Order some wings. Pass out on the couch.

Result: Did not make any progress on the proposal. No finished copy of the proposal. Delay sending it to chair.

This highlights how when we are thinking that “I can’t handle this” leads to feeling defeated. When you feel defeated, you are not motivated to do anything productive because what’s the point? If it already doesn’t matter, why would you continue putting work and effort into your dissertation? If FEELS much better to watch a television show where people are organizing and decluttering their homes for three hours. You have time to finish your dissertation, you’ve already wasted this much time anyway.

You see how that can lead to this vicious cycle of procrastination and anxiety?

This is why it’s important to do another model to imagine what is possible. To alert your brain how to think instead.

So, let’s complete As you can see, this isn’t a magical, overnight process. However, IT IS the difference between ending your night with progress or face down, crying in a plate of wings.

I suggest that you try it out for 7 days. If it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work.

But, what if it does wonders for you?

What could you accomplish?

Need more help with The Model? Download this planning sheet and it’ll walk you through step-by-step.

How could The Model fit in your daily routine? Let me know in the comments!