Confession: I am a very competitive person. First signs appeared when I was seven or eight after I lost a game of battleships to my Uncle. Cue a large temper tantrum that is now brought up every year at the family Christmas gathering. Losing a purely luck-based game is one thing, but my feelings worsened when actual skill is required. This flared up in secondary school, less during PE but more regarding grades. Despite receiving decent results throughout, I just had to better my friends’ marks in tests and homework. None of them knew we were playing, but it became a significant portion of my motivation.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Why am I telling you all of this? Well, firstly, it is to remind you (and myself) that I would have improved faster by working collaboratively with my peers. Even if you’re working in different classes, being able to explain a concept is a great way to improve understanding. Everyone has the same overall goal of passing their exams, just different levels of achievement. Secondly, the reason I thought I had attained my GCSEs grades was on natural talent alone. Since I was told “You’re so clever” by whomever, I began to believe them and worked less. My first year of A-Levels slipped because it was more about the effort I had put in than intelligence.
The phrase ‘You have to buy a ticket to win the lottery’ is usually only said nowadays by sports commentators. A player thirty yards from goal has pelted a lucrative shot and the ball has flown into the top corner. The crowd goes wild, rival fans commiserate saying it was lucky, the player has bought their ticket and won. What the idiom actually means doesn’t wholly relate to being on the pitch at the right time / right place. It’s about showing up for training day in and day out, practising these techniques consistently. The effort exuded means they could’ve missed these chances 99 times out of 100 but persevered anyway. They had made their own luck.
Improving 1% each day
Relating this sports allegory back to my story, the real success had been pushing myself to study daily. Understandably, not everyone has time each day after school, but even five minutes can keep ideas fresh. By making a one percent improvement each day in any field will lead to significant long-term growth. Hypothetically, let’s say school started September 1st, 2022, and exams began May 15th, 2023. That is 256 days total to study at 1% each day, resulting in 256% improvement! Increasing your knowledge by over two and a half times is serious progress, not reliant on natural talent.
A+ for Effort
In conclusion, my intentions for this article are twofold. Using examples, I want to show that by putting in concerted and consistent effort, your goals are achievable. Don’t compare yourself to others or their perception of you, everyone’s skills are different. What’s more important is turning up each day and marginally improving, therefore moving forward in the right direction. It’s also a less intense process than trying to cram all of your learning into a month before exams. My second, ulterior motive is to improve as well! With each article I write, I try something new and learn too. Together, by putting in the effort, we can reach our goals.