top of page

Are You Thriving? Take the Flourishing ABD Quiz | Issue 288

Summary: Are you set up for dissertation success and well-being? Rate yourself on 15 critical areas and take necessary actions.

Estimated read time: About 6 minutes to take our game-changing quiz.


By Gayle Scroggs, Ph.D., P.C.C., Editor

The pandemic elevated concern for how people flourish at work, school, and home. For the overburdened doctoral student, Covid and general uncertainty has created additional stress that threatens progress. It's time for a checkup. 

How would you rate your level of thriving? Are you generally feeling your best and doing your best work? Or do things feel under par? 

Take our Flourishing ABD Quiz to assess areas going well and those needing attention for finishing and thriving. 


For each of the 15 items, circle the alternative that best reflects your typical behavior, thoughts, or feelings. 

1. How well have you cultivated your dissertation habit?
   a) I have developed a consistent writing practice that is well-paced and productive. 
   b) I procrastinate, waiting for the right mood, i.e., more of a loaf-and-cram approach. 

2. When you are working on your dissertation, how strong is your focus? 
   a) I stay on task most of the time. 
   b) I get off track, ruminating, worrying, or distracting myself when I should be working. 

3. How much exercise are you getting? 
   a) I take time for exercise or physical activity at least five times a week. 
   b) I put off exercise until the weekend or never. 

4. How clearly can you articulate your "Big Why"? 
   a) I remember why I chose this topic—and am still passionate about it. 
   b) I have lost my enthusiasm for the subject and find it hard to stay motivated. 

5. How well are you satisfying your need for sleep? 
   a) I get at least seven hours of good sleep each night. 
   b) I tend to short myself on sleep (and/or it is not that good). 

6. How easy do you find it to ask for help? 
   a) I am not afraid to ask for help on my dissertation when I need it. 
   b) I am embarrassed or ashamed to ask for dissertation help. 

7. How much do you think finishing will affect your intended career? 
   a) I can see how a doctorate fits into my career plans. 
   b) I am not sure how this degree really matters to my future. 

8. How well do you manage your inner critics? 
   a) I don't pay much attention to my inner critics—I acknowledge their attacks and let them go. 
   b) My inner critics are running the show much of the time. 

9. Can you easily say "no" to things that interfere with getting your dissertation written? 
   a) Yes, because I make it a priority—and even calendarize it. 
   b) No, because I hate to disappoint others and/or I hate to miss out. 

10. How effectively do you handle challenges, negative feedback, and mistakes? 
   a) I offer myself self-compassion then get back to resolving the issue with equanimity. 
   b) Setbacks send me into a downward emotional spiral. 

11. How would you describe your relationship with your advisor? 
   a) We have a positive, mutually respectful relationship. 
   b) I wish I had a good working relationship with my advisor. 

12. How well are you caring for your body? 
   a) I fuel my body with nutritious meals and snacks. 
   b) I consume too much processed food, fast food, sugar, alcohol, etc. 

13. How confident do you feel that you have what it takes to finish? 
   a) I am confident that my developing academic abilities will carry me to the finish line. 
   b) I feel like an imposter on the verge of failure more often than I care to admit. 

14. How much fun are you having? 
   a) I make time each week for socializing and play. 
   b) What's fun?! Even when I take time out, I feel too guilty to enjoy it. 

15. How successful have you been at finding the support you need? 
   a) I have developed a good circle of support. 
   b) I could really use someone in my corner. 

Now use your answers to pinpoint some areas for self-affirmation and for self-improvement by tallying your "a" and "b" responses. 

Pat yourself on the back for each "a" answer—they contribute to thriving. 

Carefully review your "b" answers. Select one or two as priorities to work on for enhancing your progress and resilience. Do you need to concentrate on managing your time, energy, or emotions? On taking care of your body? On getting support?


How you set yourself up for the dissertation journey affects your well-being. I've noticed that some people can be meticulous in maintaining their cars—yet forget their responsibility for self-maintenance. They end up paying the cost in worry, frustration, and overwhelm down the road. Don't let that happen to you. 

Take diligent care of your physical and psychological needs as a doctoral student. For inspiration, check our archives for relevant tips on all these subjects. For greater accountability, you might also wish to start or join a dissertation writing group or get a dissertation coach. You deserve to finish and to thrive! 


Photo credit: This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA-NC



An accomplished coach, workshop leader, keynote speaker, and educator, Gayle earned her doctorate in social psychology from the University of New Hampshire. Her deep expertise in positive psychology allows her to help clients build their personal strengths, positive habits, and confidence to overcome procrastination, self-doubts and other blocks in order to reach vital academic and personal goals. In addition to editing the ABD Survival Guide, she contributed two chapters to the positive psychology anthology, Women's Paths to Happiness. Contact her at for coaching, presentations, and workshops on thriving in graduate school and beyond, and find free resources

BEN DEAN, Publisher, ABDSG
Ben holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. He began writing the ABDSG in 1997. Over the years, the ABDSG has published hundreds of articles and provided thousands of hours of pro bono coaching and teleworkshops to ABDs all over the world. Ben is also the founder of MentorCoach (, a virtual university focused on training accomplished professionals to become part-time or full-time coaches. You may wish to subscribe to the Coaching Toward Happiness eNewsletter! It's on applying the science of Positive Psychology to your work and life (131,000 readers). Ben lives in suburban Maryland with his wife, Janice, their two children, and Dusty, their Norwegian dwarf bunny.



Subscribe to our other free e-mail Newsletter: The Coaching Toward Happiness News.



bottom of page