In this blog series, we will be discussing the biggest dream-killers - mindset issues that limit your performance and actively hold you back from achieving your maximum potential. Our first dream killer to discuss is anxiety. Did you know: whether in middle school, high school, or college, around 20% of students suffer from high level testing anxiety that impacts their test scores by 6-12%? (McDonald, 2010; Ergene, 2003). Some estimates go as high as 40% of students, and other research shows that of the students who don't have high level anxiety, a majority of them have at least a moderate level of testing anxiety that keeps them from their best test scores.
Anxiety kills dreams slowly and silently. While some cases of anxiety can be entirely crippling, for the average student, it is much more subtle. It creeps up before or during tests, making you shake and sweat as it turns your stomach upside-down. The problem with testing anxiety is that it doesn't usually stop you from performing, but it does stop you from doing your best. Many students believe that they don't have a problem because they show up and get it done regardless of how they feel. That toughness is great, but without addressing anxiety, they will never see their best possible test scores.
Let's look at some ways mindset training can help you overcome testing anxiety and achieve your highest possible scores on EVERY test.
1) Preparedness - Cram studying and anxiety go hand-in-hand. It's natural to feel nervous for something you are not prepared for. Regular, consistent study habits can help to reduce your feelings of anxiety. Know that you are prepared and allow that to give you confidence as you go into the test.
2) Routines - Have you ever had trouble falling asleep the night before a test? If you go to sleep at different times every night and have not trained your body to sleep during certain hours, adding anxiety over a test will keep you up all night long. Being consistent with your routine will allow your body to relax when it is supposed to. Eat and sleep at the same times, keep your routine the same every day, and watch as testing days become much more relaxed and calm.
3) Important, but not Special - We have a tendency to build tests up to be bigger than they are. Often, students will change up everything about their approach for the big exam. In their head, they give the test too much respect and build it up to be a mountain that is impossible to climb. You should believe that every test is important, but that does not mean it is special. Each test is just another day in your life and another of many opportunities you will have to display and show off your knowledge. Making it any more than a regular day will set off your anxiety quickly.
4) Visualization - It is easy to visualize worst-case scenarios. We want to think positive but those thoughts don't always come naturally. Most people tend to get caught up in negative thoughts like failing the test, missing the passing grade by one point, feeling the panic of not knowing a question, etc. It is important that you actively seek out positive thoughts. Force yourself to imagine what it will feel like to get the high score, know all of the answers, and have confidence throughout the test. The more you actively think about positive scenarios, the more naturally they will come and the less anxious you will feel.
5) Process, not Results - Anxiety hits hardest when you worry about the results. If you find yourself in the middle of a test trying to judge how many questions you need to get right to get the grade you want, you are already performing worse than your best. The more your focus goes to the grade, the more anxiety will rest on your shoulders. Start saying this in your head during tests: "I will score as many points as possible." Fight for every point, work to answer every question to the best of your ability. Don't think for one second about what the results might be. If you stay focused on the process of trying to answer every part of every question, you will be more in control and less anxious.
6) Get a mindset coach - We can improve every day with our own initiative, but a mindset coach will get you to your goals faster with more impact! If you want to achieve at your highest levels, you need guidance and mentoring. The knowledge, wisdom, and experience that a coach can provide will be invaluable to your success. Sign up now for a FREE coaching session and see how the mental edge can make the difference in your life!