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Thinking of your PhD as the business you cannot allow to fail

Every Ph.D. candidate thinks about quitting. It's OK. 

What helped me finish mine was to act like a business owner. 

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Many Ph.D. candidates leave with a master's degree and are perfectly happy for it.

I know so many people who have done this.

They are successful, alive, and kicking.

Absolutely zero of them thinks that they cannot carry on due to lack of a Ph.D.

So, in case you really, really want a Ph.D., that should hopefully give you some power back. 

During the last year of my Ph.D., I leveraged this lots to calm myself down.

If I left with a master's, all of the work I had done wouldn't vanish. I would have still done great.

Not having the degree is not the end of the world.

Letting go of that terror of not having the degree after all helped me lots to actually finish.

When you start a business, there is always that risk of things not ending up how you planned them. 

But you take the calculated risk and do it anyway.

A Ph.D. is the same way - when you start you are taking a risk.

You might not finish with a Ph.D. 

Lots of things could happen and maybe you don't get one at the end.

I think it's about a third that leaves without a Ph.D. - comment below if you know better.

It's really pretty common. 

You are risking investing your time, energy, and life.

You are accepting a low income (maybe debt) in the meantime and fewer savings and less retirement money. 

But you do it anyway.

Because you are really, really passionate about something.

You are no different than an entrepreneur! 

Feeling so passionate about something that you just have to do it even with the least amount of support is what entrepreneurs do, don't they?

Well then, great!

Just like an entrepreneur learns a lot along the way no matter the end result of their endeavor, you will too.

So let your risk-taking be empowering rather than panic-inducing. 

You are following your passion come hell or high water. You should have no regrets.

Congratulations, you are a business owner! And, your Ph.D. is your business. 

So, own your business and try your darndest so it doesn't fail.

Do everything you can to protect your business. 

You are not your advisor's indentured servant, you are a business owner.

Don't ask for permission to do what is best for your business. Do what is best. 

You can always ask for forgiveness if needed.

Don't have advisor or committee support? Everyone and everything around you is discouraging and demoralizing?

Don't care, you can't let YOUR business fail. Always, focus on your business.

At every step, ask the question:

What is best for your business?

Don't wait for people to tell you what to do and put your business in other people's hands. 

Figure out what is best for your business. 

Of course, get advice and help! Be a good listener. 

All entrepreneurs have to do this. 

What you cannot afford is to accept that your business must move forward according to the whims and fancies of other people (such as your advisor)

I am only too aware of the enormous power gradient between an advisor and a student.

If not power, use strength. To protect your business.

When your advisor asks you to do ten thousand things, think: what is good for your business? Then, prioritize. 

(Don't do ten thousand things. You'll never finish.)

When it comes time for you to graduate, again, don't forget to act like a business owner.

It doesn't matter how disbelievingly your advisor looks at you when you say you want to graduate.

Or at least, don't allow it to matter.

They can be as disbelieving as they want, you are going to make it happen.

Check out this article where I list the FOUR things you need to do to make sure you graduate!

The bottom line is you cannot act like others are in the driver's seat.

Forget about being a student who is waiting for their teacher's approval. 

Be a business owner instead. 

You are in charge. You will graduate when YOU make that happen. 

Please comment below. 

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