Proven strategies and methods: It’s time to get your life back!

Do you feel overwhelmed? Have you hit a wall? Is your thesis stuck and not moving forward?

If you are experiencing anxiety, procrastination and a lack of motivation, “Master your thesis – Proven strategies and methods” is for you! Caroline Dale, an expert on coaching students through the postgraduate journey, has developed a step-by-step process to get you over the finishing line— and now, for the first time ever, the six-step Dale-Method is available for your personal use!

Author: Caroline Dale

ISBN: 978-1-86922-938-2
(print version) Price: R329.00

eISBN: 978-1-86922-939-9
(ePDF) Price: R296.00

“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.” — Tony Robbins

Want to complete your THESIS?


In this book, leading academic professional and postgraduate coach since 2018, Caroline Dale, will guide you with a tried and tested roadmap to complete your thesis. The six step Dale-method will equip you with practical tools to gain and maintain momentum to successfully complete your Masters or PhD thesis.

The 6-phase methodology address all the elements of post graduate study and help you take back control.

Why this Book

There are about 100,000 postgraduate students in South Africa (RSA) and neighbouring countries at any given time. Of these, the majority are probably on extensions to complete their thesis. Such extensions are of finite duration and as a result, a significant number of candidates fail to graduate because they cannot submit a thesis on time. Even though my husband explained this to me after his own MBA, as did my ex-boss at the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE) and several others, I did not connect these dots until I began the MPhil in management coaching at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB).

After graduating cum laude for my thesis, a process which precipitated great stress, I generated a personal mission which wove several strands of my life experience to date, together. This mission is to significantly improve the proportion of postgraduate students who submit a good thesis on time and successfully graduate. I intend to disseminate the methodology I have developed (The Dale Method) to enable academic students to overcome the challenges of thesis writing.

My most impressive student was on the brink of failure six weeks before his submission deadline. I coached him intensively using The Dale Method and he duly graduated six weeks later with a cum laude for his thesis.

This book is my current best attempt to spread The Dale Method across as wide an audience as possible in Southern Africa, and indeed in due course, the rest of the world.

I trust you will find it useful and helpful in “getting your life back”.

The book has been designed to help students in academia graduate at the highest level of which they are capable. It simultaneously fulfils my dream of becoming a valued and respected coach, mentor and author. I am inspired by facilitating growth. My own academic and coaching journey helped me to identify the challenges we face during the process of growth inherent in writing a successful thesis. I believe that each student who fails to graduate detracts from the economy of the RSA. Conversely, each additional graduate contributes positively!

The process of writing my own master’s thesis helped me to refine my thoughts on the contents of this book. It also gave me a framework, which I am sharing with you, within which to discuss the pertinent issues faced by all postgraduate students. The themes and findings that emerged from my research have been an invaluable guide to recording my journey in writing.

Why you must read it

When you begin your postgraduate degree, you commit to submitting a thesis at the required standard before you graduate. Failure to submit a thesis on time results in prolonged periods of misery and serious stress because of years of delay in completing this project.

Submitting a good thesis is difficult but not impossible. Personally, I was unable to find a practical, useful methodology to guide me along my way, so I created my own.

As your academic year begins, the assignments, activities or the thesis itself will cause you to struggle. You will have setbacks and disappointments, but you will experience feelings of achievement and success if you put in the work and seek help when you need it.

The most crucial action you can take right now is to reorient your mindset and get your systems in place. This will be the foundation from which your planning will evolve.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Your goal is your desired outcome. Your system is the collection of daily habits that will get you there. This year, spend less time focusing on outcomes and more time focusing on the habits that precede the results.”

Many times, in my practice as a coach, I’ve watched students with the appropriate systems and daily habits succeed beyond their own expectations. Many of their peers who push back against planning and working in discrete, incremental sections, struggle to stay afloat from day one.

The task of writing your thesis is the proverbial banquet that you can’t consume at a single sitting. No matter how smart you are, I assure you, there is no way to get the best result without breaking the project down into logical, manageable sections. This approach precipitated the synthesis of The Dale Method.

The Dale Method is built from a unique blend of evidence-based coaching, psychological theories and personal experience. It is a tried and tested formula for academic success, for any year of study, or for writing your thesis itself.

The 6-phase methodology addresses all the elements of postgraduate study, resulting in the student feeling in control throughout the year: (1) timelines; (2) sacrifices and contracting; (3) habits and motivation; (4) planning; (5) psychological challenges; and (6) PACT. These phases are not linear but cyclical and flexible in nature; the individual moves in and out of each phase depending on the immediate challenge.

It was inappropriate for me to structure the book into a chapter for each of the six phases. These are ever-present throughout your thesis process.

I emphasise that the book is a practical guide which focuses primarily on the overall process and necessary systems for achieving your deadlines. It does not provide help with specific content or how to conduct a sound study: this is the work of the student and their supervisor or any other leading expert in the field of research. I use the term ‘supervisor’ synonymously with ‘advisor’ or ‘chairperson’.

The difference between success and failure in any endeavour is motivation. Once you divide the overall project into its logical components and complete these, the consequent feelings associated with success will maintain a high level of motivation.

This book is geared to master’s and PhD students, but the principles and techniques have been successfully used for those on any other academic quest. For this reason, I trust that the material will be used for years to come as the new crop of students face future challenging projects. For consistency and readability, I use the term ‘thesis’ interchangeably with ‘dissertation’ and ‘research project’.

I hope this book offers practical guidance and motivation during your thesis journey. My aim is to provide you with confidence and techniques to alleviate misery, stress and anxiety. In addition, I wish you the most rewarding study year: enjoy the process, savour the learning, be authentic, and most importantly, stand up for what you believe in.


Y ou are about to embark on the exciting, but daunting and anxiety-invoking journey of post-graduate research, culminating in a thesis. Make the upfront investment to capacitate you fully and thoroughly for the journey by working through this really practical guide on mastering this high-risk journey with its multitude of potential derailers. It will truly be worth your while in significantly enhancing your chances of not only reaching your destination successfully, but also in one piece personally.

Theo H Veldsman, Former HOD, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg (UJ). Visiting and Extra-ordinary Professors at respectively the University of Johannesburg and Stellenbosch Business School (USB). Study leader of close on fifteen successful doctoral students

As supervisor and mentor of many postgraduate students, I find this book very practical and focusing on the key aspects that you come across in your journey of developing a thesis. Most postgraduate students are in a corporate environment and the majority of their writing on a daily basis is reports, which makes academic writing a challenge when you commence with the process of writing a thesis. The book starts off in the first chapter with the supervisor and your relationship. That is so important as you need that mentoring and guidance when going through this process for the first time. Planning is also very important and I always emphasise to students that if you plan your study and process in detail, you have half the work done. Project management is key to creating the discipline needed to write a successful thesis.

Prof Adri Drotskie, Director: School of Management, University of Johannesburg (UJ), Supervisor, Mentor

This book is an engaging and compelling MUST read for anyone involved in writing research proposals and thesis writing. It is more than an indispensable step by step guide. It is energizing, empathetic, motivational, and authentic in navigating thesis writers through the very real emotional complexities that inevitably pop up during the course of writing a thesis. The call to “get your life back” differentiates this book from other Thesis Guideline publications that are currently in play. A huge thank you to the author who is a thesis coach, for an illuminating, brave and bold read, based on proven strategies, wisdom and insight that she has tried and tested over many years. For Academic Supervisors, and for students, this book provides very valuable tips and tools to ace your thesis.

Dr Shirley Zinn, Chair and Independent Non-Executive Director of Boards, for example Sanlam, MTN (SA), VNA and Spur Corporation

About the Author



Caroline Dale is the founder and CEO of The Thesis Coach. Caroline holds a BA Hons Psychology (Unisa), BA Psychology (cum laude) (Unisa), PGDip Addiction Care (Stellenbosch), and an MPhil Management Coaching from the University of Stellenbosch Business School for which she achieved a cum laude for her thesis.

Caroline developed THE DALE METHOD from proven management techniques; several tertiary qualifications in psychology and evidenced based coaching theory.

Caroline has over 1,000 hours coaching experience since 2014. Since 2018, as an academic performance and thesis coach: 90% of the students she coached graduated and a high number with distinction.

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