Not fulfilling obligations to one's daily work often produces a sense of shame. I know that I get super grouchy and snappy when I don't exercise or write for a couple of days in a row. My shortness with those around me is a quick tell that I'm feeling bad about myself.
Unfortunately, I'm willing to feel bad about myself for a little while before changing the pattern and getting back to the computer or getting back to the yoga mat. In other words, I'm the one person that I'm pretty willing to disappoint; I am also the person who is most abusive in the dishing out of shame when I fail.
In contrast, most of us are pretty good about meeting our responsibilities to others. Knowing that other people expect us to show up is a powerful motivator.
It makes sense, then, that bringing other people into the process helps. Even though they are less harsh with the shaming when I don't do my daily work, the fear of disappointing them works pretty well.
This month, for example, I am experimenting with using an accountability partner. Each day this week, we'll talk on the phone for 15 minutes and say what we've done. I also announced to my family that I planned to work on the book for a minimum of 3 hours each day this week. Knowing that I've announced these intentions to so many people is part of my motivation this week.
We often think of fear of failure in wholly negative terms, but consciously introduced, it can do work on our behalf. It's what keeps us lesson planning, writing conference papers, and completing our committee work.
By making other people the people who I am showing up for, the writing process becomes a bit more social, which adds a bit of support, and a bit of productive social pressure.
Get a Life, PhD
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The Thesis Whisperer
Tenure, She Wrote