02. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: PhD

Hey, guys! The NECO students recently finished midterm exam week. We have block testing, which means our midterms (and finals) are concentrated into one week of the semester. In this exam week there are no classes, just studying. I have to admit that I now am starting to feel the truth of the rumor that second year is the hardest. While the exams went decently well for my classmates and I, we all could agree that it was much harder than first year exams in terms of content, quantity, and complexity of the material. In the face of this new year, I have been inspired by a new outlook on how to better handle your challenges.

Something I’ve come across recently is the concept of always searching for the perfect study routine and never accepting that you’ve found it. This tactic can be used for achieving your personal best as a student and possibly in other aspects of your life. It goes something like this:

When you’re doing well in school, keep changing your methods in small ways. Complacency comes from performing well. It’s basic positive reinforcement. I studied X amount of hours for this class, I reviewed X amount of material with a study group, and I got an A on the test. Perfect? No! The idea is to always change. Change the study hours, change the quality of the hours, and change who you work with in your review time. Maybe don’t work with anyone else.

So now you’ve been diligent about not only doing your work, but changing it up. You see the material from different perspectives and contexts. You got another A! It worked. You keep the trend going, more change. Now you’re typing notes for yourself. These typed notes are going to be easy to review when it comes to the final. You started reading the PowerPoint slides before class. Now you feel like you know what the professor is going to say before he even says it. It’s a game and you’re winning. Have you reached perfection now?

No! The concept is that it requires a conscious effort to stay humble and keep reminding yourself that you are not perfect. This routine is not perfect and you can always make improvements.

And now I think it’s even cooler to apply this concept to other aspects of your life. Aren’t there some things around you that could be phenomenal if you were always improving them? Relationships, responsibilities, extracurricular activities, your skill set, whatever you consider yourself “good at…” I know these are all things in my life that I could improve by shaking them up a bit.

While changes are essential to growth, I know I have to take them in small steps for them to be sustainable. A major leap from your norm could be overwhelming and not healthy for you. You have to work in that center of the bell curve where the stress level is on “medium” and results in the highest peak of the curve where you have the best performance.