3-Step Formula for Crushing Finals
Here’s your 3-Step Process to winning each moment whether on the field or in the classroom …
Believing + Breathing + Battling = Best Chance of Success
That’s it. If you approach each question during finals week with the Triple B Formula … you give yourself the best chance at success.
If you notice there is an “ing” on each of those words in the formula. Why? “ing” emphasizes an ongoing process. It’s never a one-time-thing. You have to believe, breathe and battle EVERY PLAY.
Let’s unfold this a bit.
Proper Perspective: A client’s mom recently told me her son had a “huge test” coming up. “Huge test” sounds scary doesn’t it? What if we change the language a bit?
Stop: Calling tests “Big Tests”
Start: Calling them “Knowledge Checks.” After all, a test is checking to see if you understand a concept. “Knowledge Check” sounds much better. More on the offensive: Let me show you know what I know, Teacher! Bring it on!
Confident Preparation: Preparation is the single greatest source of confidence. When you’re ready, you’re ready. When you’re not … well … you look like Missy, below.
Confident preparation includes: Studying with no distractions; Getting help on questions/concepts that aren’t quite clicking; Taking practice tests and approaching them like you would a real test. Find a way to make practice tests harder than the actual tests by adding pressure (a timer, background music that you dislike with a passion, etc.)
There is no excuse for not being completely prepared for a Knowledge Check. Prioritize it.
Body Language: Recently, a client and I discussed “Test-Taking Preparation” I had him walk to my desk with confidence and grab the fake test right off my desk with authority like he was saying “Give me that and let me show you what I know!”
He was timid at first and took it from my desk about as confidently as a little mouse taking cheese and running. I had him repeat it. Then again, until he was laughing at how confidently he could take that test off my desk. I laughed, too. But why not approach a test you’re prepared for with a good laugh? What’s the alternative? Little mouse.
STOP: Letting one or two tough questions get you all frazzled.
START: Slowing the moment down with breathing and positive self-talk
Slow the moment down: Remember when you said to yourself after getting a test back, “Oh my gosh, I knew that! How could I mess that up?”
When we add unnecessary pressure to performance things tend to speed up. When our minds are racing how can we expect to perform at our best?
A simple breath (or several) in through the nose and down into the belly might be the difference between earning an “A” and a “B.” Or an “A” and “worse.”
Practice taking nice deep breaths by visualizing blowing up a balloon in your stomach and slowly and smoothly releasing the air naturally. This will slow your thought-life down and bring you back to this moment. This question.
Self-Control – If you’re not in control of you how can you expect to be in control of your performance?
A simple (not necessarily easy) way to check in with you, question to question, is to take a nice deep breath and walk yourself through each question using the proper text (message you want to send); tone (encouraging and soft, like you’re speaking to a frightened child taking a “huge test”), at the right time (know when you need to hear encouragement; not when it’s too late).
Spend some time in the days prior to your Knowledge Check going through scenarios in visualization sessions.
A couple scenarios to consider: Two days prior, do 30 fast jumping jacks to get your heart rate up and then visualize yourself struggling on a difficult question. Then, using the breathing technique described above, YOU slow YOUR mind down. YOU walk yourself through the process and see it to completion.
The night prior, see yourself having incredible success even with the questions that tend to trip you up. This will set the tone for when you walk in and confidently grab that test off the teacher’s desk.
E + R = O : Event + Response = Outcome
Let’s say you know you blew question one and there’s still 29 questions left. If you do not slow yourself down, you will likely start catastrophizing (blowing one missed question out of proportion) and hurt your chances of performing well on the questions you typically breeze through.
How you respond (for good or bad) sets the trajectory for the outcome. You cannot control what’s on a Knowlegde Check but you’re in complete control of how you respond to each question.
That means you own at least half of the outcome. Choose to control your emotions and respond with a gritty attitude to conquer the next question. Who care’s if you don’t get every single one correct. You’re not expected to.
STOP: Beating yourself before the test ever gets the chance to.
START: Being your own biggest cheerleader
Win the battle Me vs Me before Me vs Test : Make sure you are on your own team before the test begins. That means no more saying negative things about ‘what might happen if…’. The battle is with the paper staring back at you–not you.
One question at a time: Piggy-backing on something mentioned earlier, keep each question it’s own question. Entirely separate from any emotions the last question might have provoked or any anxiety a future question might stir up.
When you take each question one at a time, you’ve never failed before. You won’t start now.
What’s Really at Stake: YOU ARE NOT YOUR TEST GRADE. You are worthy and great no matter what a piece of paper says. Separate you from your performance.
But, at the same time, find a way to make it personal. When I work with baseball players I tell them that at the plate, the pitcher is the only person standing between you and playing Major League Baseball (vice versa for pitchers on the mound battling a hitter). When you make the moment personal, it means more, you focus more. It’s personal.
So, find a way in the moment to make it personal. Then, take it back to being “just a performance.” I hope that makes sense.
So, there you have it.
Believe that you are prepared + Breathe deep and slow during each question + Battle the right opponent and be good to you.
Thus, the formula for success.
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