‘The end of a melody is not its goal, and yet if a melody has not reached its end, it has not reached its goal.’ Friedrich Nietzsche
Creating legacy milestones should be celebrated
In creating legacy, it is important to acknowledge and celebrate legacy milestones; these are milestones we reach while completing a legacy project. This is one of the perks we get as legacy creators. And yet, all too often, legacy creators are also extremely driven people, who as soon as they reach one milestone immediately start work on reaching the next one. I know this because I’ve often done it myself, and I’ve seen other legacy creators do it. But no more.
Celebrating my latest legacy milestone: Passing the PhD viva
Today, I’m celebrating a big legacy milestone. I’ve passed my PhD viva yesterday afternoon. The viva is the way in which PhD theses are examined in the UK – the doctoral candidate has to defend their completed thesis in front of two examiners, both experts in the field.
As you can imagine, passing the viva is perhaps the most important milestone in completing a PhD, because the PhD (taking three years or more to complete) only gets awarded if the viva is passed. While I was writing the PhD thesis, I was dreaming of this moment, when I’d pass the viva. Especially in the middle of the motivation slump, every day was such a huge battle with Resistance that I was constantly terrified of coming to a complete halt due to lack of motivation on the project. And the viva milestone was like a beacon in the foggy distance, calling out to me ‘come on, you can do it, you can reach me and then all your efforts will have been worth it.’
Reaching legacy milestones can be emotional
While writing the thesis, I expected to thoroughly look forward to the viva. And yet, the day before the viva, I was in tears that the PhD was coming to an end. And come to think of it, I was also really sad when it came to submitting the completed thesis – another huge legacy milestone in the process of completing a PhD project. But if reaching these milestones is so important, what generates all these negative feelings when reaching them? Especially after all the difficult parts of the legacy project, such as the motivation slump and the last 100 metres, you’d expect legacy creators to be jumping for joy upon reaching the end.
Thinking about my own feelings related to the end of the PhD project, I’ve come to the conclusion that every legacy project is not just something abstract we are working on, but gradually becomes like a mentor. So reaching the milestones signalling the end of the legacy project is like having to part company with someone who has been at your side for years. Someone who, through putting you through all the trials and tribulations of the motivation slump and other difficult tests, has led you to change your outlook on life.
The legacy project as a process of change
Every legacy project has a profound effect on its legacy creator. Reaching the end is a celebration of that change, but also sometimes an acknowledgement that change has taken place.
In my case, the day before the viva gave me an opportunity to reflect on all that had happened in my life by virtue of working on a PhD. And realising that largely due to the PhD, I’m a very different person now that I’ve finished this project than when I started it. It made me acknowledge that this huge project that I had been carrying around with me for the past few years, that I had hated so much at some point, had in fact been a benevolent guide who had only had my best interests at heart. And it was that realisation that made me so emotional. So long, old friend.
What about you?
Have you experienced the end of a legacy project? How did you feel about it? Share your thoughts and your story in the comments section.
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