Milestones and Touchstones

Dr. Patti and I sometimes talk about the challenges we had in finishing our doctoral programs. It’s easy to identify the negative challenges: cost of education, limited time for family and friends, the ongoing process of reading and writing.

But one of the positive challenges we experienced was celebrating our milestones, the small victories (baby steps) we had along the way. It took us a while to realize we had to take the good with the bad.

Make Your Milestones

Milestones can be anything you finish in your doctoral program. Examples include anything from talking to your mentor, writing a page in your dissertation, helping another student, organizing the table of contents, or reviewing your plan for the next semester.

Dr. Patti and I call anything that helped us move forward a baby step. Just a reminder that we had to crawl before we walked – it’s the same process.

I found this very helpful in the support group I started for other students in my courses. We shared weekly baby steps, no matter how small. It was important for others to know you were doing something. Even if you needed a time out to regenerate, that’s a step in the right direction.


Another important part of celebrating milestones is to reward yourself. This is a basic part or touchstone of your journey.

Do something nice for you. Turn off your computer for the day. Go out for a nice long walk and enjoy nature. Enjoy dinner with family and friends. Watch a movie with your family. Find a way to be good to yourself – it will help you enjoy the journey.

Baby Steps

The purpose of any baby step is to take a time out, recognize that you’re making progress and appreciate the effort. I found that it’s too easy to get caught up in doing the work.

The hardest part is not understanding that celebrating baby steps is also part of your educational journey.

It’s supposed to be fun, and if it doesn’t feel like it, make your own fun! Celebrate your baby steps and have fun doing it.

Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead.
~~~Nelson Mandela~~~

Dr. Bessie


Author: Dr. Bessie DiDomenica

Food Policy Researcher • Resilient Agriculture Advocate • Public Speaker • Public Policy Wonk • Writer • Teacher • Social Entrepreneur • Associate Editor

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