The dissertation writing process is a long one – the dissertation process itself is more like an Ironman triathlon than a quick sprint. It’s long, arduous, and a test of perseverance. It is an endurance event, and in order to reach the finish line, setting smaller goals along the way is crucial. Short-term goals help keep you on track, maintain your motivation, and help you focus on your larger project. It’s important, though, to make sure these goals are SMART goals. No, not intellectually astute, but:

  • Specific: clearly outlined, detailed, with no confusion

  • Measurable: able to be measured or quantified

  • Attainable: can be done with the resources you have in the time you have

  • Realistic: not too idealistic, but doable

  • Time-bound: with a specific deadline in place for the goal

Making your goals SMART goals will build confidence and assist you in planning your dissertation timeline and work schedule. You’ll be able to see the clearly outlined SMART goals and develop a plan from there.

For instance, instead of simply saying “I want to finish my entire dissertation in a year,” a SMART goal would be to say “I want to finish a rough draft of my Literature Review and send it for editing by March 2nd.” In the latter, you’ve broken a large, possibly unattainable goal down to a specific and realistic goal with an established deadline. You can then make another goal for the next chunk of work – and plan your schedule and timeline accordingly.

In addition to setting SMART goals, here are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • Incorporate some down time into your work plan/timeline. Life happens and we all need breaks sometimes. Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to work 24/7. You’re only human and down time can be essential for your mental and physical health.

  • If you fall behind, don’t give up. Just do some recalibrating. One delay or slip-up doesn’t mean the end of your progress. Just shift things a little bit, and keep moving forward.

  • Set a schedule/routine and stick to it. If you need to, block off time in your planner/calendar for everything, as silly as it might seem. Treat it like a job.

  • When writing your goals, use positive language and focus on what you want to achieve, not things you want to avoid. This helps set the overall tone of your goal-setting.

  • It’s okay to ask for help (within reason). We don’t mean help in the sense of having someone else write for you – that’s a big no-no. If you need extra guidance in developing a work plan, or if you need research assistance or editing/formatting help, Dissertation Editor can help! We offer a range of professional services to help you get you where you want to be! Contact us today to learn more.

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