I am convinced that I possess sufficient "cognitive skills" to succeed doing my PhD. Reflection on myself, however, confronts me with the fact that my "meta-cognitive" (time management, mental discipline, focus) and "emotional" skills (motivation, patience, work-life balance, monitoring own health) are underdeveloped.
I feel that I am always making the same mistakes. I am often working hard for days. Stress and coffee distort my sleep pattern, making my mind empty for days. I recognize clear patterns. I also have trouble maintaining a healthy life-style. Instead of taking a little bit more time to eat healthy or sport, I am captivated in "the illusion that there is always more work to do." As a consequence, I am (on average) physically sick two days in the week -- eventually, losing more time. Finally, though I was happy living my introvert life before, the long days of no social interaction and just staring at my computer screen are becoming more dreadful.
My meta-cognitive skills also seem to be weak. I have trouble focusing on one subject for a very long time. I often get bored after some weeks, wanting to jump immediately to something else. As a result, it appears that the first phase of my research (almost 9 months) is very fragmented. I don't see any linear progress. I often doubt that the time I am investing in some subject will be useful later. I feel that I am not really spending my time the best I can. I keep track of my work hours in Excel files to be sure that I accomplish my weekly goal of 45 hours. In order to accomplish this goal I mostly have to push many hours to the weekend. I am aware that this bad time-organization will affect the quality of my relationships in the long term; and damages my work-life balance in general. I feel that I am working 24/7 at half capacity, whereas I would prefer to work 5 or 6 days in the week at full capacity.
I am starting to have less and less satisfaction from my work. The butterfly feeling of wonder and passion for science are disappearing. I am feeling more like an input-output machine which needs to be managed. The work I am doing also seems to be driven and conditioned by external factors (deadlines, presentations, publications, expectations promoter) instead of internal factors (pleasure, interest).
More concrete questions:
(1) Is it possible to improve one's meta-cognitive and emotional skills? How would one do this in practice? Can a person really change?
(2) How can one restore those feelings of wonder and true passion, and step out of the "routine" where one feels like an input-output machine which needs to be managed?