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Loss of direction and ask for advise
J

I’m doing my masters and planned to upgrade to a PhD from the really beginning. I was confident when my initial proposal receive some positive feedback. However, things didn’t go well in my first year. I was experiencing depression, therefore took a 6 months break. After back, I have finished my first milestone presentation and the panels seemed impressed. I thought things were getting back on track. However, i made almost zero progress in the past few months...the second milestone is coming. And I don’t think I can make it...

Moreover, it’s time for me to make decision: 1) Applying for upgrading to a PhD. If I do, apparently it will be A LOT to catch up. I’m NOT confident with it and SUPER doubt with my ability.
2) Stay with my masters. Even if I do so, I think I still need to ask for a 2 month extension.
3) Switch to part time basis with my masters. My psychologist suggested me with this option because I was not doing well with my mental health.

I have basically no idea which I should go for. Lately, I can’t focus, avoid works, can only sleep until sunset, and feel that I may just try to postpone my failure by taking break and extensions. On the other hand, I’m clear that I’m interested in my research question and do think it’s valuable for some great efforts.

Would you have any thoughts on which path sounds like a better plan? Or if anyone here has ever taken breaks, extensions or reduced the workload, and could share his or her experiences? Thank you!

Loss of motivation & stress procrastination
J

Quote From rewt:
Hi jw5,

I am sorry to hear about your issues and can completely sympathise with you. I am a master procrastinator and have suffered at least 2 major bouts of depression during my PhD, as well as having major issues with anxiety and impostor syndrome. The simplest advice I can give you is try to learn to forgive yourself. We all have bad days, bad weeks and bad months. We all have lost motivation at one point and suffered issues during our PhDs. Don't think you are alone and what you are experiencing is incredibly common but most PhD students never admit it to one another.

This might sound counter productive but take a week break. Take a week to sort yourself out mentally and physically. Try to get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise outside, was regularly, meet friends and follow your hobbies. Take a week to sort yourself out and not have to worry because anxiety is a killer. When you think you are ready, start small and celebrate the little things. When having motivation issues at the end of the day I write down every little thing I did and that sometimes including just going for a walk. As it is easy to focus on the big goals when really it is just a lot of small accomplishments bundled together. I also make to-do lists filled with 5-10 minute jobs as I find I get a small dopamine rush checking things off. Big goals mean less things I have completed and therefore less dopamine. I also know some people who try to do their least favourite objective at the start of the day to get it out of the way. Finding little tricks to motivate yourself can help long term. There is a lot more advice on the internet but just remember you are not alone.

Also, I wouldn't worry about catching up. If everyone worked at their top pace all the time you could probably do a PhD in 18 months. Seriously, I think every PhD timeline includes several months of procrastination. So don't feel you have to catch up as the last month is gone, you can't get it back. That is completely outside your control and it is better to focus on what you can control. If you are worried about finishing, make a list of everything you want to do and prioritise. Everyone is overambitious at the start when in reality you probably only need to do half the things you wanted to in order to form solid conclusions. So just focus on one week at a time and things will start snowball.


Thanks rewt,

It means so much to me to know what I’m not alone. I’ve also experienced depression from last year and took a few months break to refresh myself. I recognise I should take a different approach to cope with this journey (not putting 100% of my life on study because of anxiety and guilty, but build my life outside it). However it’s not easy to try a new approach but not going back to my old way. Having someone to remind me that is so helpful to me at this stage. Thank you.

Loss of motivation & stress procrastination
J

Quote From wing92518:
At the initial stage of my research, I did many experiments wrongly. I asked all people for help because I did not know how to perform experiments. I did everything I could to perform correct experiments.
I talked to my family members and close friends who care about my mental health. I took one or two hours off every day to do my favourite things. I focused on improving on the quality of experiments, rather than getting a PhD. The reason is that at the end of the day it is the quality that determines whether one can get a PhD.


Thanks Wing,
It’s a very important point that the quality of research matters rather than just passing the deadlines or milestones. Focusing too much on the deadlines is one of the reasons of my demotivation.

Loss of motivation & stress procrastination
J

Thanks Wing,
It’s a very important point that the quality of research matters rather than just passing the deadlines or milestones. Focusing too much on the deadlines is one of the reasons of my demotivation.

Loss of motivation & stress procrastination
J

Hi everyone!

I know they’re over discussed topics but just try to write my problems out to combat my anxiety.

I’m doing a masters by research and planning to upgrade to a PHD. I had a very hard time during preparing my first milestone. Although the feedback of panel was surprisingly positive, there’s a lot of things I need to catch up. However, in the last whole month, I made ZERO progress. There’s a mix of thoughts that I literally have no idea on what I should do, I’m so scared to experience what I had before the 1st milestone, I don’t believe that I can make it, and I don’t deserve a research degree. There’s anxiety, depression, self doubt and guilt. I’ve lost my motivation but also feel super guilty of doing nothing and anxious when I aware that the deadlines are coming. I don’t have any HDR peers which I can ask for suggestions. Just wonder how you overcome this kind of situation. How do you manage self care and catch up on research simultaneously? Thank you peers!

Awful Progress Review
J

I have experienced, or still struggling with depression. I can relate to what you have said and understand how hard it could be to talk to your supervisory team about your mental health problems. I was struggling with the same issues, poor performance triggers my depression and depression leads to poorer performance as a loop. I didn’t want my supervisors to ‘find out’ how ‘weak’ and ‘incapable’ I was. Eventually I couldn’t manage it, and started the conversation with my supervisors via email before talking about it f2f. It turned out that they’re supportive and told me that it’s quite normal. I just want to encourage you to talk to them and let you know the consequences might be more positive then you expect. Also I understand the feelings of not being good enough. It makes us feeling lost, frustrated and overwhelmed when we can’t imagine how we could walk to the end from where we stand. Personally I’m still learning on how I can cope with it. Just want you to know that you are not alone. You are not failed but feeling like a failure is part of the journey.