Oliver Kennedy, Business and Management, University of Liverpool, 2019 Cohort
‘Working with Will taught me how not just to pause, but to pause effectively to refill the tank and orientate for the next task’.
This one day workshop was designed to enable participants to ‘Take stock, let go and imagine what’s possible’. Through a wonderful range of activities the day invited participants to step back, take stock, experience alternative perspectives, explore common challenges and identify a clearer sense of the way ahead.
I recently took my second workshop with Will Medd, ICF-certified coach and PhD holder, to explore what it means to pause in this journey of study, and how doing nothing for a while doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing nothing.
If a PhD is “hard” or “tasking”, it almost represents a right of passage. “It’s supposed to be that way” we are told. Long hours, weekends in the office, coffee by the bucket load, confusion over what next; the entire experience is meant to test you. It’s what others did before us, now it’s something we must do. But is it really? There is enough research and narrative around the adverse effects of a PhD on our mental health, that it is something we should all take seriously, whether we think it applies to us or not. I was once told that during a PhD you are more likely to suffer a mental health crisis than at any other time in your life! Whilst some efforts are being made by Universities to address this, I think it’s very much our responsibility as individuals to seek out how we can help ourselves.
Working with Will taught me how not just to pause, but to pause effectively to refill the tank and orientate for the next task. You may think that pausing is taking 2 weeks off on a beach somewhere, but it is much simpler than that. We can pause anytime we want! It’s in the conscious micro actions throughout the day where we can find space to just be for a while and put everything into perspective. Using basic meditation and breathing techniques, coupled with plain honest conversation, we can all access our place of calmness and realise that often we need to tell ourselves a different story.
The PhD doesn’t have to be that hard, we just make it so because we are told by others that it should be. Will helps you see that, and helps you find a different way.