I mentioned in my last post that I feel like I’ve been floundering recently in grad school. I know I want to be here. And I still really do what those extra letters after my name. But I’ve recently become very unmotivated with my topic. I got some feedback on what I had been doing that has been causing me to question if this path is even worth traveling. The feedback seems to suggest that our current trajectory will never lead to success.
Anyway, I’ve been stressing over this, and at the same time trying to make progress on my research. Let me just say, these don’t go well together. There’s nothing like not being confident/motivated/excited about your project to completely derail any work on it. And when no work is being done, you’re even less likely to be confident/motivated/excited about it. It’s a vicious cycle.
I had a meeting with my supervisor which gave me a chance to air my feelings. To let my supervisor know where I was in terms of the project and to help explain my lack of progress. I’m glad I did. The meeting went really well. We spent the entire hour discussing what my options where (1) continue what I’m doing, 2) make some small changes, but generally stick to the project, or 3) choose a completely new project).
My supervisor told me that during the course of any PhD, the student is going to become unmotivated at some point. That projects don’t always move smoothly. That you will become jaded. That some new and shiny idea will come to you and you’ll want to change directions. But that part of the process of getting a PhD is making it through these times and finding ways to either work through it or get re-motivated.
My supervisor suggested that it’s probably not a good idea to just quit the project. Something I agree with strongly – I’ve already put a lot of time into it. And I’m not positive it won’t work, just (at the moment) discouraged. In the end, we decided to give at least one final push with the current project. We choose a time frame for this final push (to the end of the current semester) and at the end of it, we will re-evaluate what we’ve discovered and determine whether it’s worth moving forward, or it’s time to put the project aside and choose a new one. To help get me re-motivated on the topic, we chose to veer slightly from our original path and that I’d take a couple weeks exploring some alternatives to give us a better idea of our options.
One of the big things this meeting reminded me of, was that a good supervisor is one you can approach (without fear) with these type of concerns. You can honestly tell them how things are going, and they’re willing to work with you to find a solution.
Now, I just need to get back at it. Which I’m excited about. Which is good, because it’s making me motivated. Of course, tomorrow is the start of a long weekend…