Before you started working with me and before using my materials, ideas, strategies, what did your PhD look like?

My PhD was completely messed up. I was so much in trouble with the organization of my PhD thesis. I did not know from which part to start and where to stop. I was so much frustrated that I was close to losing my hope to finish my PhD thesis. I lost the notion of time, and it was a great amount of work that I did not know how to plan it. I was so desperate, and always blaming myself, because of my decision to be working in that research group, and my supervisors for not doing enough to provide good research environment. I was so angry to my supervisors, and that was having influence on our discussions sometimes. I was complaining to everyone I meet (even a stranger in the train) about my PhD and my supervisors. At the same time, I was worrying about everything, my visas, contract and what I will do after my PhD. And I was smoking a lot.

Now today after working with me and having used my materials, ideas, strategies, what does your PhD look like?

My PhD is more organized, the content of each chapter and sections are more clear. The message of each part is more clear. I have more confidence with writing my PhD thesis, and therefore it becomes faster. I have a much more realistic and clear plan so that I can take actions immediately. I am not that much perfectionist, as there is no perfect work and I also know that it is also more about the insecurity. I am more oriented to ask myself question what should be there and try to provide the main messages of my PhD thesis clearly. I have a quite a good life-work balance. I have less frustration and anger, and even when they are there, I know how to deal with them. I have better conversations with my friends and family. And I gave up smoking. I do not push myself too much anymore. I can have better conversations with my supervisors and I think I am letting them to be less stressed about me.

What is the biggest benefit to this change?

For me, I now have more self-awareness and acceptance. I know my own nature better. My mind constantly thinks, and before I was taking my thoughts too seriously but now I am developing the attitude to simply observe them. I am practicing mindfulness, and feel more balanced and have inner peace. And I can accept the past events happened during the PhD (i.e., with my supervisors), and that the PhD is taking more than four years for me. I really had the experience and feeling more grown up!

If you would have to put a price on this change, what would it be?

Priceless.

Before we worked together and before using my materials, ideas, strategies, what did your personal life look like?

I was not listening my friends, parents and my girlfriends during our conversations. My mind was always with my PhD thesis and I was not dreaming too much. I lost the notion of the reality. I had the tendency to complain about everything. Especially, I was frequently warned by my girlfriend that I am not listening her. I was complaining all the time. I was very unhappy and I was not spending any time for myself. There is no word of relaxation in my life. I was just pushing myself to finish my PhD even though I was making circles and cannot even move a centimeter.

Now today after working with me and after using my materials, ideas, strategies, what does your personal life look like?

My life is also more organized, I have more days in which I am calm. I am able to listen others after all these mindfulness techniques I learned from you. I am able to take days-off for myself. I do not push myself that much, so I can spend more time with my friends as well. Sometimes, I am able to say myself that I am not going to work today. And I am more happy!

What is the biggest personal profit to this change?

For me, the life does not only consists of the PhD work now. Now I can also manage other parts of the life, I can spend more time with my friends and girlfriend. I think there will be a life after the PhD where I need to have a work-life balance and since I started to work with you I know this better.

What has been your biggest discovery or “Ah ha” from working with me… or how has your thinking changed after working with me being exposed to the materials, ideas, strategies?

I have few biggest Ah ha’s

  • Realistic planning methods (defining the stops, 80% rule etc.).
  • To know what kind of writer I am and three stages of the effective and efficient writing.
  • Morning pages
  • Daily walks and meditations
  • Thoughts are like clouds.
  • The day I burned all my thoughts which are not real.

(All of above methods were like a surprise for me and when I talked about them to my friends they also got surprised.)

What would you tell anyone considering working with me if they were undecided or sceptical?

Writing a PhD thesis could be a very challenging task depending on the requirements asked by yourself or the others. For me, I wanted to have a good quality research output which would lead a good academic career. But I was pretty much alone with my research in University, and I could not keep up a good conversation with one of my supervisors. I was feeling very miserable and did not know where to start the work. I was feeling like this period will continue infinitely. I am not from the Netherlands and I was feeling really alone and could not find the strength in myself to deal with this issue. Until I met Arjenne…

Arjenne has very practical methods to make this period more manageable. She is very confident in her job, and conveys this confidence to you, as well. She listens to you very well, and tries to define good strategies to deal with your problems. So far, I am very happy with her suggestions. I had a better work-life balance, was able to keep a good mood for most of the time. After working with her, my communication with my supervisors improved a lot. Her methods were most of the time very surprising for me. I strongly believe that what I learned from her is not only useful to finish my PhD, but they will also help me to pursue happiness and success in the rest of my life.