Life (real life) is not like that

“Your basic worry is, of course, your PhD proposal. I wonder if you have made some progress in the meanwhile. Your trouble may be that you try too hard (‘do something really groundbreaking, brilliant and fascinating’). Life (real life) is not like that. However, no matter the topic you settle on, it will develop into something interesting once you get into it. You can’t expect life as a PhD to be a bed of roses…”

Quoted from a letter my LSE mentor Gordon Smith sent me in 2005 (back when we still wrote letters!). During this time I was writing the first chapters of my PhD, or, more accurately, still figuring out what my PhD would be about.

Are you trying too hard?