blog + vlog: why i quit my phd program




“If it’s not a Hell Yes, it’s a no.” – Derek Sivers

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” – Ralf Waldo Emerson 

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” – Rumi

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” – Steve Jobs

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs

“Whatever outrageous dream keeps flowing across your mind, allow it to live inside you. Don’t deflect it, diminish it, invalidate it or come up with some excuse for why it can’t happen.” – Marianne WIlliamson



I do what I love. I trust my heart. I let my heart’s desires lead me.

I am willing to update my dreams. I let the old ones die, and the new ones emerge.

I do what it takes to create the happiest life imaginable. I am worth it.





(so… this week I wrote you a blog and made a vlog! #busygirl
but they are super different, so you probs want to watch/read both!)


Blog: Sometimes we have to let go of an old dream to make room for a new dream. Sometimes, we realize what we thought we wanted isn’t what we actually wanted once it arrives. Sometimes we have to reassess, weigh the costs against the benefits, and make a change.

Doing this isn’t always easy. If you are anything like me, you know what it’s like to walk around with a million should’s/supposed to’s/must’s in your head. I always have an idea about what the right thing to do is. This combined with my perpetual fear of missing-out can sabotage me. I have found myself, more than once, choosing what I believed I “should do” while totally disregarding what I really wanted to do.

The major lesson of my life, thus far, (that I am obvi still learning) is to follow my heart.

And in following our hearts, often we find that our dreams change and evolve. When I was 15 and decided I wanted to be a psychologist, I had a very specific idea of what I would do with this title. I thought I would write self-help books, provide one-on-one therapy, and probably do some type of motivational speaking. I was 15 and did little/no fact checking about what was actually required to accomplish those goals. I thought to do those things I needed a PhD. So throughout many phases of my life, I always made sure that a PhD was the direction I was headed.

Half way through my Master’s of Science in Counseling program (at #SMU – pony up!), I discovered life-coaching. I was a little bored in the master’s program, and mentoring/coaching young woman seemed like an awesome way to use my gifts, do what I loved, help people, and make money while I was waiting for the part of my program where I got to see clients. I did very little coaching the first year and a half that I was calling myself a life-coach, but the little I did (along with starting this blog) made me feel like I was contributing to the world in a meaningful way.

When I finished my Master’s degree, I decided to go for it. I decided to see if I could support myself as a coach. I graduated in October and by January, I was supporting myself with my own business. And I loved it.

As always, I was being guided.

The problem was, I had always said I would get a PhD. And here I was with the right degree, internships, and letters of recommendation to get into a really good program. I applied. As I filled out the application I remember thinking that what I was about to put myself through sounded nothing like self-love. As I interviewed I remembered thinking that the environment of the university and the lifestyle of those who went there, did not seem like a place for me if this business was going to grow.

But I was terrified. I was terrified of what it might mean to give up a dream I had had for over ten years. I was terrified of what it might mean to JUST coach. I worried about what people might think of my business. I made a big mess of it in my head.

And then I chose to override my heart. I accepted an offer I no longer wanted and I reluctantly began to work on my PhD.

I continued to make my coaching business and clients a priority. I included a lot of self-love into my experience. I ended up squishing 30-40 hours a week of PhD stuff into three days, coaching half or full days the other 4 days of the week and fitting as many yoga classes/healthy moments in as possible. I did the best I could with what I had to work with, but I didn’t actually want to be there. I could spout off a short list of why I should be there. “Well, maybe a PhD will help me to be more reputable in the personal-development/self-help world… Maybe someday I will want to work in academia… I mean no one ever regrets getting a PhD!” But I wasn’t giving my best to the PhD program because I had this other thing in my life that I loved so much.

The old dream just didn’t quite fit anymore.

I had molded the dream over the years into what I saw professors and mentors doing, but when I went back to the true desires of my heart, what I really wanted to do, didn’t require a PhD.

Finally, I had to be really honest with myself. I don’t mind working hard toward a goal, but I can not live for an outcome while hating the process. I refuse to squander the days of my life doing things I don’t love in stressful environments to meet external requirements that do not hold meaning for me. I had to remind myself that what I love to do is what I am made to do – and that’s the bottom line. I had to be willing to begin to grieve a dream that needed to die.

I had to let go.

So I quit (I’ll write more about a convo I had that helped guide me in next week’s blog — big wisdom drop in that one)

And maybe I will get a PhD someday, but I won’t do it like this. I want to love the process, enjoy the journey, and follow my bliss. ((I’ve actually already been admitted to a different, super cool program that fits my lifestyle and personality wayyyy better — but my gut says I need a break. I need to enjoy the cool shit I have going on right now and go back to school for a PhD when I really want it and when I really know why the hell I’m doing it. Until then, I’ve got BIG plans for my biz ;) ))

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, right now is the only moment you have to love life in.

I love myself too much to not love a big, fat chunk of my life.

So, my dear sweet friends, in what ways are you selling yourself short? Squandering your gifts? Not living to your fullest potential? Settling for someone else’s dream/vision for you? Living by rules and supposed to’s instead of out of your heart?

Have you been here before? Do you get what I’m saying? I wanna know!

Let me know! I would love to hear your experiences and support you on your journey!

I LOVE YOU! Remember: you deserve the best. You are effing fabulous!



Amanda Frances





6 thoughts to “blog + vlog: why i quit my phd program”

  1. This post/video was exactly what I needed to read/watch. I was completely devastated when I quit my dance career and gave up on a MFA in Dance as well as a Ph.D. (was a combined 8 year program for each degree) back in 2008. I have been bitter and resentful since I didn’t finish it and I do not have the degrees to show for it…because it is all I thought I needed to do. I was the first grandchild out of many (my family is large) to go to Grad School. I was very proud of being accepted, and it was all I cared about doing. I now realize it is only because it is what I *thought* that it was the next step. It had to be the next step. It wasn’t though! The program wasn’t a good environment, and the blessings that have come over the past 8 years as a result have been amazing…It is still hard to think what if – but I wouldn’t have come to THIS place without all of that happening.

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. I’m in a similar boat right now. I’m in a PhD program currently but I’m tempted to get the Master’s and run. I’m just not really feeling it anymore. I like the IDEA of it but not the actuality– as you described– “the external requirements” are brutal. I have a 5 day a week school schedule and there are days when I wonder if my talents (whatever they might be) would be best utilized elsewhere. It’s a shame because I feel guilt for not just pushing myself to do it…but I’m just not sure.

    1. for me, when i am truly following my heart/using my gifts/in the divine flow of what god made me to do… there is no “pushing” — there is only flowing. will pray you find your way. for me the answer was to follow my heart and let it be easy. love you!

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