Tuesday, 11 June 2013


"I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by." 
~ Douglas Adams (Simpson, 2003)

Or perhaps I ought to quote Britney with “Oops, I did it again!” but that’s a shuddersome thought, so I shall NOT go there *fingers in ears, whistling*

I am good at talking myself out of doing things because I doubt myself to the point where I convince myself it’s pointless trying. It is something about myself I am trying my hardest to stop now that I’ve caught myself doing it, and I’m realising it’s a fault I’ve been guilty of over most of my life so it’s going to be a hard habit to break, but ultimately one I NEED to fix.

So far this year I have not done many things I wanted to do. This is pathetic and I must fix it.
To self shame, here is my list of things I've not done because I've talked myself out of it. Some are retrievable and I WILL do so.
  • Applied to Manchester (MA / MRes) 
  • Applied to Leeds (MRes) 
  • Applied to Trinity St. David’s (MA) 
  • Contacted Birmingham (MRes) 
  • Applied for an awesome Institutional Repository job 
  • Applied for another half dozen jobs
It’s June, that means 6 months of this year gone. I need to be realistic and pragmatic, but I also need to take some risks. Not bad risks, just to try things that might fail. I’ve made a small start – I have applied to some jobs which are probably beyond my reach (Hi there Oxbridge), which would be dream opportunities for me. Not all of this has been self-doubt and procrastination though – I’ve lost the last two weekends to in-law deaths and big figure family birthdays, which I things I have to acknowledge as being beyond my control.

I will say though, that more and more jobs are fibbing about what is Essential vs. Desirable. It used to be (or at least it seemed that way), that if you met all the essentials, you would get a call to interview, but now it seems that unless you also meet ALL the desirables, you’re not really in with a chance. Either that or every single job I’ve applied for over the last year or so has had someone already in mind, which I doubt!

My plan to stop dithering:
  1. Complete MRes draft by Next weekend – all the background is done, the reading that isn’t complete can be done after I’ve passed it to Potential Supervisor #1 for commentary
    Problems to solve – “I’m not good enough!” “My research idea is poor!” “They’ll laugh at me” and “But it’s not perfect!” 
  2. Apply for a job per week – if I don’t get interviews, I don’t get interviews, but it’s practice at selling myself
    Problems to solve – “I’m not good enough!” “My experience is insufficient!” “I don’t know how to describe how I know it” 
  3. Fill in applications for Manchester(s) and TSD
    Problems – Pretty much as for #1 
  4. Contact Potential Supervisor #2 – while doing background reading I noticed that two people who are/have been researching related aspects had both had the same PhD supervisor in the last couple of years. I will send Draft to her and ask whether they feels this is an area they could supervise.
    Problems to solve – All of #1 PLUS “They won’t want to talk to someone like me!” and “They won’t even bother to reply”
Initial responses to my internal wibblings:

“I’m not good enough!”
I have a good (2:1) undergraduate degree from a perfectly good university and an MA from prestigious one. I am passionate and interested.

“My research idea is poor!”
That is what the submission of the first draft to supervisor will challenge (either me or the idea!)

“They’ll laugh at me” / “They won’t want to talk to someone like me!”
If they do, I won’t go there, but most academics I have spoken to have been positive and encouraging. The only knockbacks have actually been from administrators at a general level, or from other faculties (i.e. ones I wasn’t interested in anyway!)

“They won’t even bother to reply”
That has only happened once, and I probably didn’t approach the situation in the correct way. This time I have spoken to Academic #1 in person (who asked me to send a draft), and I will contact #2 with draft so that there is something to discuss rather than a vague “I’d like to study with you”.

“But it’s not perfect!”
It won’t be – I have to just deal with that fact!

“I’m not good enough!”
Try, learn, try again, learn more

“My experience is insufficient!”
13 years post graduation is NOT insufficient (in general)! Work with The Ginger One to practice elaborating on what I have done so that I bring out the skills I’ve learnt.

“I don’t know how to describe how I know it”
Practice. Work with TGO to sell myself more positively. Keep a running list of “things wot I ‘ave done”, especially for vague concepts like Project Management, Working through Change, etc.

Added bonus one:

“It’s too late in the year”
Then the application will be for NEXT September or a January start. Get it in, get sorted out, get the place secured as early as possible instead of rushing.

Simpson, M.J. (2003) Hitchhiker : a biography of Douglas Adams

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