Everything is taking longer, and I’m OK with that

I downloaded the thesis map document from the Thesis Whisperer website a year ago. Since then I’ve pushed back my deadlines 4 or 5 times. My thesis is moving forward, just at a much slower pace than I anticipated. This is mostly because transcription and analysis took way longer than I could have imagined at the outset, and I am fully living my work slowly ethic (which apparently is a thing). This post is not a complaint, it is an explanation of why I am OK with the fact that after 5 years, I am still not finished, and cannot easily predict when I will submit.

The main reason is because I see this as a long-term commitment to academia. I have a tenure-track job. I need to complete the PhD if I want to keep it, but I am trying to put into place good habits from the onset. Once the PhD is done, there will be other research projects, there will always be more to do, and more to write. That’s why I don’t work evenings or weekends. That’s why I take time to exercise, to be there for my kids, to go see circus shows and music performances and attempt to have a social life. I need this lifestyle to be more than sustainable, I need it to be enjoyable. I love what I do, and I want it to stay that way for many years.

The other reason is that I am involved in many side projects, some related to publishing, others related to service or teaching. Maybe because I work at a small, not so highly ranked university, maybe because we have a great union, but I am not in danger of not meeting the minimum job requirements, I am not worried about not getting tenure (unless of course I don’t finish the PhD). So I do these additional projects – collaborating on other people’s research projects, accepting an offer to write a chapter on a topic that is indirectly related to my research, volunteering to be president of our national early childhood research association, etc, etc – because I want to, because they allow me to work with some really amazing people, because they push me to learn and stretch, and because they increase the chances that my work can make a real impact. I know the traditional advice is to wait, to concentrate all my energies on finishing the thesis, but I am impatient and impulsive, yet thoughtful and reflective. This makes for an interesting combination as I say yes to activities that help me craft my job the way I want it to be, for the long haul.

So there you go, I am doing my best not to stress about the time it is taking, to focus on making the thesis good, not just good enough, and I am enjoying the journey most days.

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About joannelehrer

I am a PhD student attempting to critically engage with narrative research in early childhood education. My doctoral project focuses on family-educator and family-teacher relationships during the transition to kindergarten in marginalized communities. I created this blog to document the journey, and to reach out to others in the vague hope of creating an opportunity for exchange with other students or academics...kind of like a virtual message in a bottle.

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