Doing a PhD for most people feels like a marathon as it requires intense focus on one topic for a long time.  It’s easy to feel unmotivated at numerous points throughout this journey. Chengcheng Kang tells her story of why she wanted to do a PhD in the first place and how she uses this as her daily source of motivation…

Since I was little I have been told I should do a PhD. During my Master’s studies at St Andrews, I realized that I have to make this choice myself. Whilst this idea actually wasn’t mine at the beginning, I decided to do a PhD anyway. My personality is more creative and untrammeled, so I don’t like sitting in the office, doing similar jobs all day. But I thought if there is a chance that I can improve myself, work with world-class professors and expand the boundary of human knowledge, then that would be awesome! The most convincible reason for me was to leave a footprint in the historical endless flow of mankind. I want a meaningful life, I don’t want to walk past the world like a stranger. I want to make contributions, I wish for my name to be in books, papers, or any literature carrier that can be saved.


The second reason is related to a story. I have a friend who feels very frustrated by the talent in her job — her boss treats people differently based on their degrees. She provides a lot of input but her boss tends to listen more carefully to the feedback from Master’s graduates or PhDs. Rightly or wrongly, knowledgeable people generally receive more respect thus their voices can be heard. This is the second reason for me to keep learning and study a PhD. I want to stand on eminence and become a visionary. When we understand the philosophies and truth behind the phenomenon we study, we are able to identify the real problems at hand and then make differences. I want to change the world, even just a little, to make it a better place.


It doesn’t matter at which stage you are or where you come from to do a PhD, just don’t forget why you chose this path and keep moving on. Learning is the only thing that has no short cut. If the journey is tough, difficult or disappointing, don’t forget to add two words after it: ‘for now’. It might be tough for now, might be difficult for now, but when we work hard and master the skills in our field, the rainbow will show up. So please don’t give up, remember your motivation and believe in yourself!


What’s your PhD story? How do you motivate yourself to keep pushing through tough times? Tweet us at @ResearchEx, email us at or leave a comment below.


Chengcheng Kang is a PhD candidate from Beijing, China in Group of Information System Management at the Warwick Business School. You may contact her on Twitter at @cckkcc29


Image: cup-top-view-coffee-table-vintage-2315554 / 95839 / CC0 1.0