Monday, April 18, 2011

Take the Exam Fitness Challenge With Me

So it’s almost exam time and you are probably thinking about how you cannot wait until a time in your life where you no longer have to cram a semester’s worth of material into your brain and then spit it all out in an hour.

You may be feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and are just thinking about how great it will feel when this semester is finished. It’s time to buckle down and just “get through” this.

But there’s actually a better way.

All throughout my school life, and especially in college, I loved learning for learning’s sake. Regardless if it was a favorite communications class or a dreaded math class, I developed a love of the classroom experience, and even of studying.

And no, I wasn’t a book nerd that never got out much. In fact, with my study habits, I never studied past 6pm, I never studied the day of a test, I never crammed, and I never had to say no to hanging out with friends because I had too much studying to do. And most importantly, studying wasn’t something I just did during exam time. It was part of my daily routine, my daily learning diet, and I learned to love it.

 It is understandable to think that once college is over you will never have to use most of the skills gained, that you will never have to study in the same way, discuss in the same way, write in the same way, or stress in the same way.

However, how you handle yourself during exam week is a great reflection of how you will handle yourself in life’s stressful situations. And there will be many more to come than just a few tests.

And you’re not just learning study habits to perform on a test. You are learning how to learn, how to retain information, how to deal with stress, and how to cope and prepare for life situations. And learning and preparing certainly doesn’t stop after college – at least for those who are successful.

For me, the love of learning came naturally, however I realize that not everyone feels this way. I realize not everyone loves learning or studying or mastering a subject. But I do think every student can and should develop a love of learning and the perseverance necessary for college success.

Easy for me to say, right, since I just happened to love learning, making school quite wonderful. But what if you’ve had a hard time? What if you are unmotivated? What if exams just seem like such a waste of time?

What if you have no passion for school? What if you just feel like no matter how hard you try you just aren’t getting the grades you want so what’s the point in trying? What if you feel like giving up sometimes?

I’m actually feeling a lot of those things right now, but not about school, about exercise. Because as I said earlier, how you approach college learning in general will prepare you for success (or failure) in setting and reaching other goals throughout your life.

So while the love of learning came natural to me, the love of exercise does not. I think all people can and should develop a keen love for both. But right now, I only love one.

I know it is good for me, I know it is important for my health, I know it will benefit me both now and in the long term, but sometimes it just feels like a lot of work and feels like it has no relevance in my day to day life.  Sound familiar?

Sometimes I feel like I’m fine without it so why do I need it. Sometimes I feel like there are just so many other important things to do. And sometimes I feel like just giving up.

And you know what the problem is?

I don’t enjoy working out for working out’s sake. I’m thinking about all the benefits, why I’m supposed to care, supposed to do it, supposed to succeed. But if I don’t really like it, really enjoy it, really want it, it just won’t work. No matter how hard I think I “try.”

Because you may be studying like crazy and feel like you’re not getting anywhere in your college success. But have you checked your motives? Have you checked your desires? Have you learned to love this? Do you really want this? And do you really believe you can do this?

And if you don’t have that innate passion for something but you want to want it, how do you develop it? Where does motivation come from? How do you teach yourself to love something? How do you push through the things that you don’t love? How do you learn to make the important things part of who you are, part of your life, and not just some external pressure that you have to “get through” to get to your real life?

I’ll be honest I don’t have the answers to these questions. I constantly question where motivation comes from, especially in those rare occasions when I feel simply unmotivated.

So what is the answer? Let action be the leader sometimes and let motivation follow. Because sometimes motivation can be a lazy and slow leader.

Sometimes you just have to do something and in the process of doing it teach yourself to love it, teach yourself to discover motivation for it, and teach yourself to appreciate the process and find something great in it.

So with your exam struggles in mind, I’m making a commitment to work out every day for the next 30 days. I’ll be honest, I’m cringing just typing this. I have zero motivation for it right now. But I’m doing it as sort of an experiment. Even though I’m not in college anymore, I want to step inside your shoes and feel what it feels like to push myself to do something that I actually have no motivation to do. I’m letting action be my leader.

So throughout the week I will give a daily update on Facebook and Twitter about how my fitness experiment is going; and I will share a study tip that will help you with exams and that will also be applicable to your daily and future life.

I think motivation, passion, drive, and dedication can be learned. So as you try to learn how to love learning and approach your exams with a positive attitude, I am going to try to learn to love exercise.

What have I gotten myself into….?

Join me on Facebook and Twitter for daily study tips and updates on my fitness experiment :)

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