Heather Van Mouwerik wrote a great article on Inside Higher Education about strategies for returning to your dissertation. In it, she not only provides wisdom for how to re-start those difficult project when we get derailed, but also why getting derailed is not as surprising as we might expect. The period between 25 and 35 is complicated for any young adult, especially when one adds on the challenges of grad/professional school.
As VanMouwerik puts it:
Graduate school occurs in tandem with some of life’s most profound and emotional developments. Between the ages of 25 and 35, people articulate important life and career goals, figure out how to live a financially solvent lifestyle, fall in love with a life partner, fall out of love, get married (or not), have children (or not), and, as I learned this summer, lose relatives and friends. Each of these life events can be traumatic and exhilarating. They can force you to reevaluate your future and come to terms with your past. Graduate students, however, go through these experiences with an ever-present companion: a dissertation.
She continues by giving advice about how to extend grace and forgive yourself in the midst of all these challenges, both as you work through them but also attempt to start large projects, like your dissertation, back up again. Her words are full of wisdom to those struggling with placing pressure on themselves to succeed, wisdom that especially extends to those of us overachieving Christians who understand the concept of grace more in theory than in practice.