People who do well – in their careers, in sports, in exams – aim for peak performance.
They want to be at their best, doing their best. How can you (as a Year 12 student) reach peak performance so that, when you sit your exams, you can be confident you are able to give your best and gain the results you are aiming for?
The best performers tap into positive energy at all levels of the performance pyramid. This pyramid has four levels, and they are all important.
First, even for studying, you must be able to find the energy you need when you need it. That means sticking to a routine of hard work and short breaks to refresh your mind and body. This might be 45 minutes of concentrated study followed by a 10-minute walk or a few minutes doing something you enjoy, before getting back to your work. People who do not establish a routine waste time and energy. Regardless of their talent, they become more vulnerable to frustration, anxiety, and loss of concentration and far more likely to choke under pressure. So, a good examination routine means concentrated study combined with regular exercise, good food, and enough sleep.
The second level is positive emotions. When you feel optimistic and confident, these emotions ignite the energy that drives high performance. Negative emotions like frustration and fear drain your energy and can wreck your performance. Positive emotions reduce your stress but negative emotions increase stress. If you are feeling negative emotions, and we all do at times like examinations, try to act as if you are feeling confident and optimistic because getting rid of negative feelings will help you succeed.
The third level is focus. Keep your mind on your goals and what you need to do to achieve them. Resist being distracted. You will have all summer for everything else you enjoy. For this short but important time in your life, keeping your focus is vital.
The fourth level, which will help with everything else, is to tap into your deepest values and develop a strong sense of purpose. In the face of challenges like examinations, knowing what you stand for and what you value in life is a powerful source of motivation, focus, determination, and resilience.
We need to remind ourselves what is truly important to us so we can find the energy, the focus and the positive attitude that will bring success not only in exams but also in life.
So, there you have it: energy, positive emotions, focus and knowing what you truly want is the foundation for examination success.
Acknowledgment: “The Making of a Corporate Athlete” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz in Harvard Business Review, January 2001