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 about how to deal with Advisors changing your milestone
  • Next, you’ll learn 10 ways to approach the milestone change
  • Finally, you’ll how never giving up and involving others will allow you to reach your goals

I recently had a situation where someone I had never met reached out to me with a tone of friendship and kindness. They indicated that they liked my story and company and wanted to have a conversation about it. I agreed. Then, once the conversation started, they started asking me very negatively framed questions. Their tone went from kind to accusatory very quickly. It was a bait and switch.

This is something that we’ve all experienced before as PhDs. In particular, many of us experienced it as PhD students; when our advisors gave us a milestone to hit and then once we hit it, they changed the milestone. They also changed their tone from being encouraging and even impressed with our potential and past work, to being critical of our work and “concerned” with our lack of progress.

So today, I wanted to talk about how to handle this kind of situation. Here are 10 things to keep in mind when your advisor moves your milestones.

The first step in dealing with changes in your PhD milestones is to have an open and honest conversation with your academic advisor. Schedule a meeting to discuss the reasons behind the proposed changes. Be prepared to listen and ask questions to gain a clear understanding of their perspective.

Second, ask for a detailed explanation of the altered milestones. Carefully examine the changes in requirements and how they will impact your research and timeline. Make sure you have a written record of these changes for reference.

Third, consider how the revised milestones will affect your research progress, time frame, and personal life. Evaluate the feasibility of meeting the new requirements and assess if additional resources or support are needed.

Fourth, discuss the changes with other trusted faculty members, mentors, or fellow PhD students. They may provide valuable insights and alternative perspectives on the situation, helping you make an informed decision.

Fifth, if necessary, adjust your research plan to align with the revised milestones. This may involve redefining your research objectives, methodology, or the scope of your project. Be sure to document these changes and communicate them with your advisor.

Sixth, develop a new timeline that outlines the steps needed to meet the altered milestones. Include deadlines, benchmarks, and regular check-ins with your advisor to track your progress.

Seventh, if the changes significantly impact your research, consider seeking additional support, such as funding, resources, or collaborations. Discuss these options with your relevant department staff.

Eighth, throughout this process, keep thorough records of all communications, agreements, and changes. This documentation will be valuable in case any disputes or misunderstandings arise in the future.

Ninth and finally, remember that a PhD journey is often unpredictable, and adaptability is a valuable skill. Stay focused on your goals, remain resilient in the face of challenges, and be open to adjusting your plans as needed.

Dealing with changes in PhD milestones can be challenging, but it’s essential to approach the situation with professionalism, open communication, and a problem-solving mindset. Your advisor, or other people in your life might gaslight you, bait and switch you, and generally try to change the goal posts on your career. By refusing to give up and taking steps to involve other people, you can navigate these changes and continue progressing towards your ultimate goal of earning your PhD.

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