I recently attended a professionalization workshop and someone did my least favorite thing: they told us graduate students that we should “start last week” on completing a major project.
Sometimes our colleagues seems to use feelings of inadequacy as a crutch–limping toward productive work as they’re chased by demons of what should be done.
The Future Dr. Anderson mentioned this to the Future Dr. Gale (who just defended her dissertation!) about a month ago. She said that people seem to feel that it is expected to freak out and hem and haw about what they should be doing to prepare for a dissertation defense. But isn’t is possible that what one feels like doing while waiting for the defense (nothing) is actually good preparation? Here the Future Dr. Gale was with a near 300-page dissertation, feeling that she actually needed to be packing more potential sources into her head on the off-chance that someone would bring one of them up. (And if memory serves, the Future Dr. Gale got exactly zero questions about literary criticism outside of her own.)
There should be moments in our career where we feel accomplished, on top of things, like we are doing exactly what we should be doing.