ONE question that will motivate you to finish your dissertation

You are working full-time, you have a full life, and it looks like there isn’t enough time to work on your dissertation regularly. Just thinking about it weighs you down. You are feeling pressure, regret, self-blame, and in spite of that, you keep avoiding the elephant in the room.

To help doctoral students complete their dissertation, I have talked about the power of mindset (click here to read the article) and habits (click here to read the article).

Today I want you to reflect on ONE question that will ignite your commitment to finishing your work.

Note: In this article, I take dissertations as example but the question works with anything in your life that is important to you, so keep reading!

Here is the question.

Who are you?

Take a moment to think about it.

You are not your past behaviors. You are not your thoughts. You are not your past mistakes. You are not your habits.

Who are you, really?

Think about your true nature, your essence, what makes you you! Give a voice to your highest potential, to the best version of you that may have not been running the show lately. Feel your heart. Connect with your soul. Who are you?

If you suddenly feel empowered and inspired, fantastic! Stay in the zone.

If on the other hand you are being self-critical, ask yourself who you want to be. Take this opportunity to leave the past in the past and decide what you want to become. You get to set new standards for yourself right now.

Think about this…

Do you keep the promises you make or does your word mean nothing?

Are you trustworthy or flaky?

Do you take responsibility for your life or do you make excuses and blame people and things for your own shortcomings?

Are you an achiever or someone who quits when things get tough?

Are you a positive role model or do you teach others that it’s OK to be complacent?

Do you prefer to raise the bar or lower the bar?

Do you want to feel proud of your success or do you choose to live with regret?

Do you have the courage to face reality or do you choose comfort and denial?

Are you hard working or are you lazy?

Do you have a strong reason to get a doctorate degree or are you not interested in your own goal?

That’s a lot of questions, but they all come down to one thing: Who are you?


When our identity, our thoughts, and our actions are not congruent, we can’t be happy with ourselves. This subtle discontentment can be ignored temporarily but it will keep coming back to the surface until we make changes to be congruent.

You can’t live your life letting yourself down, being full of regrets, and feeling stuck. Please realize that making positive changes is much easier and much more pleasant than being stuck in a rut.

So today, think about who you are and declare proudly what kind of person you are.

Let your identity be your compass. Let your thoughts and actions honor your values and align with your identity.

Leaders don’t procrastinate. Achievers don’t get complacent. Courageous people don’t hide from their responsibilities.

Who are you?

Write it down and ponder the implications.

Complete the sentences below.

  • I am …

  • I value…

  • I believe…

  • My standards are…

  • Starting today I will…

Consider crafting an affirmation and writing it on a post-it note somewhere you will see it every day. Keep reminding yourself of who you are and step up.

No more blame. No more self-criticism. No more excuses. Start fresh. Today is a new day. Declare. Step into your own brilliance. Take action. Be a leader. Be a role model.

If you want to be 100% sure that old patterns won’t return, consider working with me to stay clear on your priorities, develop an empowered mindset, and optimize your time allocation to finish your dissertation quickly. Click here for more information and click here to schedule a free consultation with me.

You can do this! And you don’t have to do it alone.

Don’t live with regrets

When I went back to grad school to get my doctorate, I directed regional and statewide grants. I had to attend many meetings and couldn’t believe how many people talked to me about why they didn’t have a doctorate.

It seemed so strange. I was getting my degree for myself and had no judgement whatsoever about who had or didn’t have a doctorate.

Some would tell me “I did the coursework but didn’t finish my dissertation. I was very close to being a Doctor.” Others would say “At my age, the financial investment doesn’t make sense because it won’t pay off.” Sometimes I heard “I have decided not to get a doctorate because I don’t want to be a College President” or “I can’t do it while working full-time and taking care of my family.”

What the heck? I just said “I have to leave on time today because I have to get to USC for class tonight.” I was just explaining why I wouldn’t stick around after the conclusion of the meeting. I wanted to be polite before rushing out the door because traffic in Los Angeles is terrible at rush hour. Why did people make it about themselves and feel the need to justify their choices when I wasn’t asking?

Because they hadn’t healed. They didn’t have closure. It is not me they tried to convince but themselves. They still had regrets about the past, and the thoughts (and the pain) were triggered every time someone else did what they couldn’t.

Watching someone have the life you could have had is very painful. Getting a degree or not getting it is actually not a big deal. Why so much pain? It is because these people had let themselves down. The pain wasn’t about not having a doctorate but about denying themselves something they really wanted. The issues were shame, guilt, and regret.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think all higher ed administrators should get a doctorate. In fact, many shouldn’t. If they aren’t going to enjoy it and they don’t need it for their career, they should spare themselves the effort and expense.

A doctorate is not a necessity. But closure with the decision you make and finding inner-peace are.

Don’t be the person who, in 5 years, justifies your choices to others because you are filled with regret. Don’t put yourself on trial for the rest of your life.

I am sure you have overcome greater difficulties in your life than writing a dissertation. When you have the right mindset and success strategies in place, getting your doctorate can be an enjoyable process. Let me show you how easy it can be. Click here to book a free consultation by phone. I look forward to meeting you.

About the author: Dr. Audrey Reille has empowered thousands of professionals through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking engagements, online courses, and interviews on international telesummits.  Audrey is the go-to coach for leaders in higher education administration. She empowers them to thrive by reducing stress, optimizing strategies, improving professional relationships, and developing a strong and empowered mindset. For more information and free resources visit