How ESP’s Tools Helped a Neuroscientist Earn Her Ph.D.

A lot of people struggle with motivation, whether it’s not having enough of it or steering it in the right direction. Motivation and persistence become especially challenging when it comes to mid- to long-term goals. How do you stay motivated? How do you push through challenges and stay on course? This is where the right tools make a world of difference. And this is true not just for goals, but for life learning.

Diana Lim, one of our professional coaches, shares how Executive Success Programs’ tools helped her not only earn her Ph.D. in neuroscience, but also self-knowledge.


“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important

as what you become by achieving your goals.”

– Henry David Thoreau


I joined the Ethos™ program in June 2010. This was after the first year of my Ph.D. in the neuroscience program at the University of British Columbia. On the outside, everything was going well—I was in a prestigious program and had been awarded multiple scholarships. But internally, I was struggling: I was failing to communicate effectively with my supervisor, I was feeling very stressed out about the lack of progress on my research, and was working myself into the ground. I knew this wasn’t a healthy or gratifying way to pursue my Ph.D., but I didn’t know how else to approach it.

After several months of Ethos™ and putting some of the tools to use, my perspective started to shift. I began to feel less anxious about the results of my experiments and more capable of seeing options to problem-solve on my own. As I pursued my career as a coach with ESP, I began to feel more empowered and centered, and became more connected to my own reasons for pursuing this degree.

I went from being too scared and intimidated by my supervisor to ask for help in my first year (I would literally avoid walking by his office), to being able to confidently set my own direction and maintain my confidence—even in the face of intense questioning from my supervisor and committee members during my final defense. I went from being unable to talk about my research with my friends outside of science, to writing and performing a personal poem about my experience of science. I went from pursuing research science (because I thought it was the thing I should do), to now pursuing a path that’s in line with what I want to do.

In the end, it took me five-and-a-half years to complete my Ph.D. Those years were filled with many experimental failures, emotional hardship and intellectual challenges. I’m grateful that I had the tools from Ethos™ to work through my fear of failing and self-doubt, and to help build my own motivation for completing my Ph.D. My experience of getting my degree was undeniably enriched by ESP and the people who are part of this organization.

dianalim-esp_1  Written by Diana Lim, Ph. D.