During March and April VCE gets tough for students – SACs become more frequent, mistakes are made, school becomes less exciting and students become increasingly more tired. The hope and belief of obtaining a 99.95 in the ATAR may seem like a fairy-tale, especially during late March. So how can you pace yourself and alter your attitude so that you do not lose track of your goals? How can you empower yourself and remain committed to your studies?
Ensure you take up a realistic workload
In March/April, students are still relatively motivated (compared to June that is) – it is still very possible that you could be working at very high intensity because the year has really only began. Ensure that you are not overdoing the study – it is important that you pace yourself because consistency is very important. Make sure that you are sleeping enough and that you are not on the road to burning out.
If you are truly fixed on achieving success it may be a good idea to be studying about 3 hours a night – more on weekends. However once again this depends on the quality of your study and how you prioritize.
Prioritize your time
Learn to focus on the most important tasks – there is no point in self-studying for English if you have a geography SAC on the next day. Always study for important assessments in priority to self-studying as it is important that you utilize your time effectively. Ensure that you prepare for the SACs by answering questions and do this a day before you SAC or test because that way everything will be fresh in your mind.
Don’t give up! Change your attitude
When things don’t turn out as we would like, it is easy to become discouraged and stop trying. It is very simple to lose track of your goals when times get tough and the reality is most people do lose motivation and are more likely to give up. Be different! Choose to re-frame your situation in a different way! Don’t just think “WOW this is hopeless I am not going to get a 90+?” rather change your inner voice to something more positive that you actually have control over. Perhaps a better way to view things would be “Ok, so I stuffed up how can I change my approach to the next assessment or how can I prevent this mistake for next time?” ?
It is important that you are empowered! The first attitude causes you to become de-motivated. How can you become motivated if something is hopeless? The second attitude invites CHANGE it actually involves being proactive and learning from mistakes. If you adopt the second attitude, it will not matter if you make a mistake because you recognise that from every mistake it will shape and benefit you in some way! This is the art of turning any experience into a win/win situation and it takes practice.
If you do well in a SAC or if you worked more effectively than ever before it is important that your reward yourself for this. Even if your SAC grade was a B and you happened to work really hard and effectively, you should reward yourself for having a good attitude. We don’t always get the reward we deserve (trust me on this point) sometimes we work hard and battle along and obtain results that do not match our efforts. However if you have the right characteristics and the right attitude and work ethic the results don’t matter that much because you already have winning characteristics!
Even if you obtain a D in your SAC, if you have the right attitude and work ethic you will learn from your mistakes and change your results. The winner is already within! So put a lot of emphasis on your attitude because this is what is vital.
Review or make your goals
It is important to make your goals challenging but not too difficult that you have to live in fear and doubt. Always make your goals positively orientated – for example don’t make them “this year I just don’t want to fail”? as this is not aiming to a positive result. To construct powerful goals use the following steps.
(1) Be specific
Don’t make your goals vague and unclear. Ensure that they have a positive motive. For example avoid saying “I want to do well” – because this is not specific. It doesn’t allow your mind to strive for a particular result. After all, every student has their own definition of what “doing well” is. For some students obtaining an 85 is an excellent achievement, whereas for others this would be “average” and their parents may never forgive them! So perhaps make your goal:
This year I want to obtain a 94.50 in my ATAR which means I have to aim for A/A+ in all my SACs and exams throughout the year.
Notice how this goal is specific and hopefully achievable (depending on your level). It also has a positive motive.
(2) Have a good reason
Just because you set a goal, it is not a deep goal until you give a valid reason for it. Our goals will only be motivating when we consider why we want them in the first place. Don’t make the reason based on what other people want – ensure that your goal is important to YOU and that you are setting it for your OWN personal reasons. If your parents want you to become a doctor and this is your reason for doing well, it will not be motivating when you begin to struggle in school.
So consider what your life would be like if you got into university or how your career would benefit if you entered the university you wanted to. So perhaps your reason may be something like:
I want to get a 94.50 because I will feel very proud of myself and it will allow me to be an engineer in the future – this will be a great opportunity to travel around the world, help local communities, help develop third world countries or it may help me earn a good, stable living.
Whatever your reasons are, ensure that you think about how your life will be benefited by the achievement of your VCE goals.
(3) How will you achieve it?
Your goals are just dreams if you do not take the actions to make them a reality. You need to think about how you can make your VCE goals a reality and how you will modify your technique to ensure that the goals become a possibility.
Think about how much work you need to do and if necessary what sacrifices you will need to make in order to make your goals a reality. Perhaps you might need to watch less TV, listen more attentively in class, use your free periods in a more effective way or get more organized? The how is important because it has the power to turn dreams into action and therefore into reality.
If I wish to obtain a 94.50 I will need to study for 2.5 hours every night, learn how to work more effectively and really be committed to my studies. It might be a good idea to get a personal tutor so that they can help me stay on track with my goals and point out what is important to know and what isn’t.
(4) Feel what it would be like to achieve it!
A goal becomes much more powerful when you feel it on an emotional level. Ensure that you reflect how you would feel if all your academic dreams came true. Imagine how you would feel if you were moving towards setting up the life you originally imagined. Visualize and feel how great you would feel and how proud you would be of your personal accomplishments. It is a good idea to do this every night as you go to sleep for about 10-15 minutes.