Nerves

Stress and nerves are not penalised in the viva. If you’re anxious or hesitant you don’t get extra questions or corrections. Your examiners will not think less of you if you’re worried on the day.

The real question is what are you going to do about your nervousness for your own sake? Do you need a couple of butterflies in your stomach to help you? Or would it be good to banish your anxieties entirely?

It’s not enough to say “I feel nervous” or “I feel worried” for the viva. There are two questions that follow when you feel something negative about your viva. First, why do you feel that way? Second, what are you going to do?

Foundations

I sometimes think viva preparation is like renovating a house.

Annotating your thesis is like hanging wallpaper. Making a summary is like knocking a wall through to let in more light. A mock viva could be repairing the roof, making sure the house is ready in case of a storm.

None of it helps if you don’t have a good house and foundations: your thesis and the research you’ve done to get you there.

Renovation takes time. Viva prep takes time too, but if you feel stretched because of work, because of life, then breathe. It’s OK. Do what you can, and remember you’ve done the hardest part of your PhD.

You laid strong foundations over years of work.

Relatively Important

Was my viva important? Yes, but…

  • Have I had worse days before or since? Yes.
  • Have I had better days? Yes.
  • More stressful? Yes.
  • Have I worked harder? Yes.
  • Have I thought more deeply? Yes.
  • Have I felt more pressured? Yes.

Was my viva important? Yes, but it’s not in the top ten most important days of my life.

It’s not even in the top ten most important days of my PhD.

Your viva is important, of course it is, and it may feel like the most important thing ever. But are you framing it as too big of a deal? Are you making it more important than everything you’ve done? Are you attaching more stress to it than you need to?

Reflect a little for yourself. How you feel about your viva can be a tricky problem to solve. A guy on the internet saying that you’ll have better, worse and more stressful days doesn’t magically solve how you might feel…

…but it’s a start. Where do you go from there?

Resolutions

Viva coming up this year?

Resolve to continue being your best version of you.

Resolve that you’ll be ready.

Resolve that it will go well.

Set your intention and follow through with some effective actions. If you need ideas, look for some. If you need help, ask for it. Be ready when your viva comes around.

Best of Viva Survivors 2017: Reflections

I’m rounding 2017 off with five days of link sharing for five different areas I’ve posted on this year. Reflections is the catch-all category I have for posts which are when I’m pondering and musing over the viva. I spend a lot of time thinking about the viva and how to help people prepare for it, so it’s not all that surprising that this shows up.

There will be many, many more reflections from me on the blog in 2018. I hope that some of these have helped you think about what your viva will be like. See you here in 2018: tomorrow! 😀

Found another post that you think is awesome? Let me know! And please share my best of 2017 posts with anyone who might need them. Retweets are always welcome!

Best of Viva Survivors 2017: Short Posts

I’m rounding 2017 off with five days of link sharing for five different areas I’ve posted on this year. Today I’m sharing some of my favourite short posts. Sometimes I’ll have a thought and realise it doesn’t take many words to explain it. Others, it’s the beginning of something else I’ll come back to another time. In any case, all of the posts below are brief but helpful. I’ve provided a tiny excerpt from each post to give a taste!

These aren’t the only short posts on the blog. In 2018 I’m hoping to make time to go through and tag shorter posts so they become more searchable. Good idea?

Found another post that you think is awesome? Let me know! And please share my best of 2017 posts with anyone who might need them. Retweets are always welcome!