What You Learn From Doing A PhD.

Most of you think that you learn a lot of knowledge when you do a PhD. This is true, but the most important lessons that you learn have nothing to do with the knowledge that you acquire. You actually learn lessons about yourself.

Here are some valuable lessons that you learn from doing a PhD.


If you are in it for the money, you are going to give up before it even matters.

I can’t tell you how many times I feel like quitting during the journey. I think “why should you pursue this research when it makes no financial sense.” To me, what I have to say is that you have to rise above the urge to quit, and focus on the joy of the struggle.

Lesson: The struggle is where you grow as a person. It is a lot like mountain climbers. There is no reason for doing it, other than for the struggle.

Learn To Love Your Flaws.

You know the old proverb, “Love thy neighbor as yourself?”

The problem is many people don’t love themselves. I have learned the things that I am good at, and the things that I am not so good at. You will learn that you can only fix the things that you are not so good at only so much.

Lesson: Start working on being better to yourself so you can be nice to the people around you.

Learn To Turn It Off.

You have to learn to turn it off. This is one of the biggest issues that you will deal with during your doctoral journey.

No one is ever go to tell you to stop, unless they care for you. Everyone learns this hard lesson during the process, if you are a type A personality. I still struggle with saying ‘no.’

Learn: Learn to mediate, jog, swim, or whatever. Practicing having your own time, or working on your mental health is as important as doing the work.

You Don’t Need Smart.

You don’t need to be smart to get a PhD.

What you need is dogged persistence. You need to get up and get going at your research ideas every day.

It is more important to be stubborn than anything else.

Lesson: Stick with it even when it seems like things are failing.

You Create Your Own Career

If you had the opportunity to create your own career, what would it look like? During the research process, you craft what you are doing for the next few decades.

Lesson: Choose to investigate things that you love, and things that you think have a positive impact on this world.

Check out this blog post about building your legacy.

You Do A PhD To Explore

You don’t do it for the money, fame, status, or respect. That rarely will ever happen in the career.
You do it because you see opportunities in the ideas. You see gaps, and you seek weaknesses. You see where we can improve the world. You love the exploration, as if you see the world in a new way.

Lesson: Do it for the exploration.

Positive Self-Talk Is Important.

You need to be kind to yourself. You have to tell yourself that “You are going to be okay today.”

Nobody is perfect, but you need to start trying and stop beating yourself up for not getting there.

If you don’t have your life put together, that is okay.

Lesson: You might look at others and see their life put together, but I can guarantee they are just like you and me. We just ducks on a pond, paddling and paddling.

Check out this blog post if you need more help with positive self talk.

Be Human In Research.

It is so much easier to admit that you have flaws in your research and yourself. Having your life as imperfect is the human condition. You cannot do it all.

In fact, I think if we were a bit more human, and admit it, we would solve a lot of the world’s troubles. Or, at least be kinder.

Lesson: Be human. It’s okay.


You learn a lot during your PhD journey, and most of those lessons have nothing to do with research. You have to learn to accept yourself as being imperfect, and know what these flaws are.

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