A Pause…But Not a Full Stop

20180309_060430On Monday I had to make one of the toughest decisions of my life- to request a suspension on my Doctorate studies for six months.  What made this such a hard call was that those who know me understand what this Doctorate means to me and how passionate I am about my chosen area of research.  I have learnt so much this week since verbalising to friends and colleagues this decision and wanted to share with those who follow my endeavours.

This is normal. The amount of people who have shared with me their stories of taking a break has been astounding.  I wish people had shared this with me before so I would not have had to feel so isolated making the call.  Better still nearly all the people who shared their stories have gone back to their research and completed. Many shared stories of how changes in circumstances informed their decisions such as family sickness, maternity, promotions etc.  When I reflected on how far I had come I realised that the last time I studied for three years nonstop was my degree.  My Masters I completed the diploma in 14 months and took a break to concentrate on a promotion.  Eventually I completed in four years in 2010.  In there was two promotions, a change of employer, a house move, travel and a wedding. For my Doctorate I had risk assessed life getting in the way because of this experience (a very Janice thing to do), but it is not on the Gantt chart. Nobody has a crystal ball.

Radiography Doctorates. As an educator I am passionate about enabling radiographers to make this one happen.  I actively champion the Society and College of Radiographers research strategy for 1% of Doctorates by 2021- #300radiographydoctorates.  However there is a narrative behind these figures. Most Doctorates are undertaken by those in an education setting, a few by those in clinical posts. Many of us are further along in our careers and trying to juggle work, finances and life.  There are “role-models” however they are so few and far between in our profession I personally feel like these people are superhuman. There is of course a growing on-line community of friendly radiography learners informally supporting each other.  I know this has helped me and will continue to help me moving forwards. However sometimes in social media spaces it is all about showcasing the good stuff and not so much the hard parts. This blog should in part address that balance.

Sometimes stillness is the best option.  A very wise AHP offered this viewpoint. In the crazy mad world we live in, where you have to continue to drive forward in everything you do, we often forget to stop, stand still and take in the bigger picture. This goes for life and leadership roles. It is easy in these situations to just keep going, pushing through but stillness offers just as much value as crazy busy.  I have never had any issues with discipline and driving projects forward but I have pleasantly surprised myself with how I have developed the skill of “stillness” as I get older.

I am not sure how this blog will be received.  I have had a small minority of people say I told you so (for a variety of reasons) which frankly has not really been helpful. Maybe they are right. Personally I am proud to have had the self-awareness to stop.  All I have ever wanted to do with this Doctorate journey was to be authentic, to show the ups and downs of the journey ensuring others understood that this is all normal.  This definitely is a pause but by no means a full stop.


8 thoughts on “A Pause…But Not a Full Stop

  1. Andé says:

    I loved this blog post. Thank you for sharing it, I’m sure it will help many others. I think your decision was the right one for you at this time. I also think it took courage to act on your intuition and not just continue to plough forward regardless. You have great awareness in recognising it’s a pause, but not a full stop. I wish you all the best in your time of stillness and am confident that when you return you’ll be the better for it.

  2. niekyvanveggel says:

    Must have been a hard and heartbreaking decision. Having had to make the decision to abandon a PhD a few years ago I understand the impact of such a step on your self esteem and confidence. However, after starting my EdD, I now know making that previous decision was the best thing I could have done. Hindsight is a great thing, so I’m sure when you start again in December your hindsight will tell you that this is a wise decision which will benefit you in more than just the doctorate journey. And as someone has already said, it is a pause, not the end 🙂

    • janicestjohnmatthews says:

      Thank you for taking the time to share your story. Wow- huge respect for you to returning to Doctoral level studies. I have been enjoying your tweets on your latest ventures. Add a moment where I also realized that my son is six and I have sent four years of his life studying- a PgC TLHE and then this Doctorate :-O

      • niekyvanveggel says:

        It hasn’t been easy, especially where colleagues have made comments about “trying again”, but it is important to me for both professional and personal reasons.

        I know the feeling! My son is 2, and I have been on the EdD since he was born. It makes you feel like a bad parent sometimes! I try to tell myself it is for his future too, but it is still difficult.

        Thanks for the positive comments about twitter. I think it helps to be positive and realistic about my job and doctorate, it may be helpful to others one day, and it helps me put things in perspective!

        Stay positive, it really is worth it!

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