Don’t fear failure – embrace obstacles on the road to success says postgrad student Louise Orcheston-Findlay.
At the end of this blog you will find a list of workshops and sessions at the Academic Skills Centre which start 17 July- so you can start to make positive changes now.
I think we are all a little trained to fear failure because it can be viewed so negatively. In some countries a ‘fail’ grade is written as ‘not yet’. I think we would all benefit from thinking that way.
Not wanting to fail and fearing failure are totally different things. If you find yourself worrying and going over it in your head excessively –before and/or after an exam—it’s probably a good idea to try to stop.
If you want to stop worrying about your grades before you know them try these things:
- This is the time to do something; appreciate the time that you have and use it wisely.
- If you have time: plan, plan, plan. Use your calendar to plan your revision sessions for each topic. This will make you feel a whole lot better, as will doing the revision itself.
If you want to stop worrying about your grades after you know them try these things:
- Recognise that the control you have over your grades is all before the exam, and not at all after.
- This exam is done, whatever the outcome. Concentrate on the next one.
- Redirect your brain power. Try running or going to the gym. Make it difficult though, so your mind can’t wander.
- Do something else that requires brain power – a hobby that usually doesn’t allow your brain to wander.
How to deal with “what if?” questions
It’s so easy to fall into the habit of asking yourself “what if?” when something’s gone wrong. The problem is, though, that our brains seem to naturally go for the negative ones. But the good news is, you can learn to rewrite them in a positive light, and turn them into actions.
Before the exam:
What if I haven’t done enough revision?
–> I’ve done all I can do at this point; I’ll be able to remember the material I studied really well.
After the exam:
What if I fail future exams?
–> What can I do to make sure I don’t fail other exams?
What if I can’t do this degree?
–> This is an all or nothing thought, which means you think if you fail at part of it, you’ve failed at all of it. These thoughts are dangerous and irrational. You can fail a few papers and still happily complete a degree.
Finally, don’t feel bad about feeling bad. Even if you’re very skilled at looking on the bright side and turning negative thoughts into actions, allow yourself to feel disappointed about a failure for a little while. Just as long as you do something about it, don’t feel bad about feeling bad.
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Check out these workshops/seminars for all UC students. Enrol in ASC free Term 3 Workshops and Seminars (starts 17 July)