What did you have in mind?

Nearly a week later, I have attempted to edit a paper, submitted an abstract to an international conference and been distracted!  Procrastinating again; well that’s what I had assumed.  This morning, however, I woke up asking myself, ‘What is my goal?’  I must confess, I have forgotten.

Earlier this semester when I attending a ‘newbies’ seminar for postgraduate students starting out on their doctoral studies, one point mentioned was to keep an eye on your goal.  At the time I remembered thinking that was a good point because the vision of walking into the graduation ceremony wearing a floppy hat was just not enough to cut it; plus three years down the track it still seemed a long way off.  This morning, however, I am asking myself, what is my goal?  What do I want to achieve?  Why did I set out on this journey to research this topic?  Do I really have to keep writing the same thing over and over again?  Do I really need to find that reference when I know this stuff like the back of my hand?

The answer is yes.  I do need to define my goal and what I want to achieve, if I want it to be of substance.

Maybe falling back on being a procrastinator is really a cop out for not defining or keeping my eye on the goal.  Maybe in part, it is the realisation that I am not going to solve all the problems of the world with my PhD journey, but that I am simply contributing a small plate for tasting to a smorgasbord of knowledge that is already out there.  Maybe my tendency to procrastinate is about losing sight of my goal and what I set out to achieve.  You know to this day, I have still not written the final version of the question for which I am spending all this time researching and writing!  Although, again, as I was going to sleep, a question came to mind.  It was simple and it was obvious, but was it enough?

Initially I was inspired to undertake this research because of a meeting I had with a small group of farming women.  This meeting was held during the first six months of my role at Greater Shepparton City Council where I was employed part-time for six months to work as a Drought Recovery Officer.  During the meeting, one of the women turned to me and said that the problem with my role is that they were tired of helping contract workers to meet key people and access appropriate local knowledge when they were only employed for the short-term and kept changing all the time.  Every time a contract finished, local knowledge and local history for that role was lost.  This was repeated to me on numerous occasions and it made sense.  Also, after each report I wrote for the council about the role of the Drought Recovery Officer, noting that some kind of ongoing rural community development position needed to be created, I felt that there was little to no recognition given to what the people in the region wanted.  My goal for my honor’s thesis and this thesis was to capture some of that history and local knowledge so that it would not be lost forever. Inspiration, however, is only a starting point, although the inspiration of those farming women remains to this day a key driver that keeps me researching and writing.

Today I found a website called ‘James Hayton, PhD‘.  James described an amazing doctoral journey where he ended up writing the final product in just three months.  He had some very interesting things to say about writing and the habit of writing and signing up to his email has provided me with a very interesting ‘Short guide to writing a thesis fast‘.

My aim is to finish this thesis by 1 February 2015 (or as I prefer to say, by the end of the year).  I did like the way James Hayton suggested that in the end the PhD journey was about completing his thesis to the best of his ability and knowing that he submitted work that he was proud of made the journey worthwhile.  For the time being there is merit in that and I am willing to write at a minimum 500 words each day.  Then at least I will achieve a sense of being productive and the fog will start to clear.

journey unclear