Personal Statistics

How do you measure or remind yourself of your confidence?

Do you do that at all?

For a long time I struggled with feeling excessively nervous. A lot of things I read and learned about told me that building up confidence would help: confidence would not get rid of nervousness but it would help to put it into perspective.

For all the little things I tried, I still encountered situations where I felt terrible because of nervousness. The situations – giving a talk, attending a meeting – still went fine, but they were more difficult for me because of how uncomfortable I felt.

A turning point was realising just how much work I had done in the past. If I felt nervous before giving a talk I could remind myself of how many times I had rehearsed it. If I felt nervous before giving one of my regular sessions I could remind myself of how many times I had shared it before and with how many hundreds of researchers.

Over time I realised I was counting many thousands of researchers.


I still feel nervous before any session I deliver. That’s OK though. It reminds me that I’m doing something important and I want it to go well.

I now feel confident before any session I deliver. I’m reminded by my numbers: I’ve now delivered over 400 viva help sessions to almost 9000 postgraduate researchers. I’ve published more than 2500 daily posts on this blog. These numbers help remind me of who I am, what I’ve done and what I can do in the current situation.

What stats could you track? What numbers might make a difference to you?

It could be the number of papers you’ve read. It might help to track the number of experiments you’ve run or people you’ve interviewed, depending on your kind of research. Work out the number of days or hours you showed up to do the necessary work of your PhD.

To help your confidence and help yourself find your own meaningful numbers and statistics.