Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist

Join us as we talk about…

In this week’s episode…

  • You’ll learn how there are 3 toxic habits that will hold you back in industry
  • Next, you’ll discover how feeling the need to always keep busy will actually lead to burn out, anxiety, and stress.
  • Finally, you’ll learn why it is important to focus on your choices rather than leading with your emotions.

3 Toxic Academic Habits Holding PhDs Back

Do you feel overwhelmed with guilt when you try to do something for yourself?

Do others tell you you’re too hard on yourself?

Do you always feel like something bad is just around the corner?

As PhDs, the pull of work is often deeply ingrained in us – especially when we try to take it easy. There are so many great qualities that you pick up while you’re working toward your PhD, but there are plenty of toxic ones you may not realize you’ve ended up with.

When those destructive habits follow you into industry, they can start to stifle you and make you feel just as trapped as you did in academia.

There are three habits that I hope, if you find yourself caught up in, you’ll work on breaking.

The first is feeling as if you need to make yourself constantly busy at work. A strong work ethic is an admirable quality and one that employers are going to appreciate. But did you know that completing tasks triggers a dopamine release?

This is why experts say that you could find yourself addicted to keeping busy. If you find yourself bringing work home, working late, and failing to take breaks, this could be a subconscious response to combat the negative effects of stress or pressure.

You need to accept that, occasionally, a project is done. A task is finished. And you can breathe before diving into the next thing. Continuing down this path is inevitably going to lead to burnout, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

Remember, your worth is not equal to the number of tasks you accomplish.

Another terrible habit is bypassing caution and jumping straight to the worst-case scenario.

In the 1950s, psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis first coined the term “awfulizing.” It describes the act of escalating a situation, in your mind, into the most negative possible conclusion – often with no concrete evidence.

In these situations, it’s your fear of negative consequences that drives your reasoning. When we begin to awfulize or feel threatened, the brain’s amygdala triggers our fight-or-flight response.

Unless you have a very specific kind of career, your fight-or-flight shouldn’t be engaged at work. Our body responds as though we are experiencing an actual threat, whether it’s real or not. This can lead to decreased productivity, stifled creativity, and an increase in stress and anxiety in the workplace.

Does that sound like someone you want to work with? To combat this habit, experts say it’s best to stop, name your emotions and then focus on choices.

A third toxic trait is feeling like a burden anytime you need to ask for help.

You might be afraid of inconveniencing or frustrating other people or somehow losing face for needing help. If you find yourself worried that those around you are growing tired of you or your needs, it is absolutely going to sabotage your success at work.

Think about it – if you’re worried about burdening others with your presence, how are you going to be able to ask questions? Or set boundaries?

Plus, if you’ve ever been around someone that requires validation and reassurance all the time, you know it can be frustrating and exhausting.

Solve this problem by focusing on your self-esteem and building it up. Set achievable goals, congratulate yourself on a job well done, and challenge yourself to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

Ready to start your transition into industryApply to book a free Transition Call with our founder, Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists here.

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