5 years ago, I went on a fascinating journey of discovery.

My PhD was an interesting experience. While I'm still trying to mitigate the adverse effects on my health, I implemented two mindsets that were essential for survival.

Maybe they'll help you survive your PhD degree.

Be the negotiator

When you start out and a PhD, it can seem overwhelming.

It can seem like everyone and their mother has an opinion about what you should do. And that is true. Oftentimes your supervisors can't even agree on a single view.

The first mindset shift that I implemented was to take my ego out of the equation as much as possible and see everyone as a stakeholder in my project. This meant that I could evaluate each opinion of each person and try to reach a compromise for everyone. This also came with the benefit that my stakes in negotiation were lowered.

Moreover, it quickly became clear that strong opinions often changed, and it was less important to argue against entrenched points. It simply meant that at the next negotiation, opinions have changed, and a compromise was more likely.

But it always keeps in mind the non-negotiables, e.g. rules from your university.

Get a hobby; Touch some grass

PhDs can trap you in a dangerous mindset.

It can seem like your entire value as a human is dependent on the completion of your PhD. It consumes that only intelligence, but your entire essence is wrapped up in your innovating science. In my anecdotal experience, this is one of the courses why mental health issues persist the way they do in academia.

Instead, if you have multiple areas in your life where you draw value and strength, you can mitigate the impact of setbacks in your research. I lifted weights, did consulting, and had my blog and open-source work.

External hobbies for a central to keep my sanity at times.

Image of Atomic Essay Day 24 - These 2 mindset shifts helped in my PhD and might just save you too

This atomic essay was part of the October 2021 #Ship30for30 cohort. A 30-day daily writing challenge by Dickie Bush and Nicolas Cole. Want to join the challenge?