In this video, Russ Harris writes about the difference between goals and values as your central motivator. Save me time explaining it and watch now (I’ll explain how it relates to thesis writing in a minute):

I’m assuming you have watched the video.

So, in your studies, are you goal oriented (“I need to get these 400 words done or I’m not going to be happy!” *begins to weep silently*) or are you thinking about the values that drive your desire to do research?

For me, the values that send me to my desk are:

  • Creativity
  • Inquisitiveness
  • Playfulness
  • Hard work
  • Doing ‘the difficult thing’
  • Ongoing improvement
  • Serving others

I can have goals, but they are driven by these values. Thus, any day I turn up, I’m living out my values (‘cos it’s hard to turn up some days). I have to acknowledge to myself that sometimes the work of creativity is staring at a blank screen hoping an innovative idea appears, and that’s okay.

I still try to reach certain word counts, outlines, or editing tasks, but knowing that these are daily fulfilling my purpose means I don’t have to wait to be happy or contented until I have achieved the goal, I can enjoy the process.

What values does academic work fulfill for you? Are they different to mine, similar? Share with us in the comments.