It is hard to discipline yourself, but very much worth it. (I’m exhorting myself here.)
I can be a hard worker, but more than that I am a procrastinator. I can get a lot of things done when someone is beating my butt. Gosh, that’s why school was so great, especially when the teachers were hard and the deadlines were strict! Success success success! – expending energy and seeing real results. But when the whip-cracking dries up, so does much of the accomplishment. It’s just so dang hard to motivate yourself to (fill in the blank) learn a new language, learn to play a new instrument, write a novel, etc.
What is school at the adult level except just paying for someone to beat you with a stick? Way back in the day, you maybe really needed to pay for the opportunity to learn from a tiny handful of really smart people or to have access to an incredible library. Now, all of that stuff is online. There are years worth of fantastic tutorial videos on YouTube that will teach you virtually ANYTHING you want to know. If you can self-motivate, the sky is about the limit. Unless your dream is to be a surgeon and you need a thousand of hours of practice suturing real live human abdomens, that grad degree is probably just an expensive whip cracker.
Everyone wants to write a book. So why the heck are SOOOOO many people going $100K into debt for a largely useless Ph.D.? Well, it’s like paying a personal trainer $100/month at the gym. Sure, you can probably figure out how to lift those weights on your own, but having someone there to make you do it increases the change by ten times that the lifting will actually happen.
A Ph.D. program is really just paid practice in research and book writing. You pay a bunch of money for someone to force you to write a book in 2 years. Can you do it? You had better!
Could you do it without chaining to a lifetime of debt? Figure out how to do that instead and save big!