STAR For A Star

Sometimes stars can’t be seen. Over the vastness of space, things get in the way or distort the light. Instead the stellar body has to be inferred, the location and details figured out. It’s there, but unseen, sensed only indirectly.

The talents and confidence of a PhD candidate can be hidden in the same way.

Skill, ability, knowledge and achievement – the roots of confidence – can be masked by worry over a thesis contribution, fears about what examiners might ask or questions of what a viva might be like.

Sometimes there’s just doubt: is it enough? Am I enough?

There’s no quick fix to remove all of these kinds of worries, but you can take steps if you’re feeling them. One step might be to use the storytelling tool STAR. I’ve shared several posts about this valuable idea before.

STAR is a simple way to reflect on a time when you’ve done something well. Each letter prompts the next part of a story and allows someone to honestly realise that they are good:

  • Situation: Find a situation or project that was challenging. How did it stretch you?
  • Task: Detail what exactly you had to accomplish. What were the specifics?
  • Actions: Lay out the sequence of steps you followed. How did you try to solve the problem?
  • Results: Clearly state the outcome. What happened in the end?

Telling yourself stories about your success helps to remind you that you did it. You have talent.

Invest time before your viva looking back over your PhD. Find situations where you made things happen. Tell stories that shine, and show that you are a star.