9 Tactics to Battle (Music) Exam Stress. (Part 3)
This is the last part of a series of 3 blogs.
Here’s part 1 and part 2 from past 2 weeks:
7) Never carry your map with you in your head.
Write it down and hang it in your house right where you spend most of your time. You want to do this for the same reason explained earlier: it unnecessarily takes up brainpower, that you could allocate towards actually getting the jobs done that are on your map. Always write your goals down, with logical steps like a flow chart. One good way to go about this: imagine that amazing day when you accomplish an amazing goal. Choose when you want that day to become reality and set that day as your deadline. Then trace back what every step is that you need to accomplish along the way, all the way to where you are at today. If for example, you want to release an album on 1st July 2013, trace back from the album release on 1st July 2013, and map out that
1. You will have to write the music
2. Write lyrics
3. Find musicians
4. Get them rehearsed.
5. Possibly write the chord charts make scratch recordings (which would come before finding musicians)
6. Create artwork
7. Find a graphic artist first probably before you create artwork
8. Figure out CD packaging.
Now how does all this tie into battling exam stress?
When you know at the start of a new semester what all your classes are, find out what all the materials are that you will be covering in that class. Then you plan out the number of hours a day that you need to practice and how often to review things in order to get all the materials mastered by the time exam week hits. You will feel very relaxed and confident by exam week and will breeze through it.
8) Believe in yourself.
When telling someone “Belief in yourself”, the person you say this to usually makes a good point that you cannot “fool yourself into believing you’re awesome”. (And even that can probably be debated or argued against). But for the sake of simplicity, let’s say that you cannot fool your mind and your brain into believing that you are amazing.
Here are some things that DO help.
a. Preparedness. When you are well-prepared, you go into new adventures with an ease of mind that makes you feel like you practically cannot fail anymore.
b. Positive thinking. Train yourself to only think highly of yourself. Chances are that, even if you cannot see it now, you soon will. We always tend to notice the things we focus on first. You will notice how great you are when you choose to start focusing on it.
c. Never compare yourself to anybody else. There’s always better and there is always worse. That does not matter though: because there is nobody like you. Comparing yourself to other people, makes you feel inadequate because you see all the things they have and you don’t while you will fail to see the things they don’t have that you do. You’re unique: you deserve better than to measure yourself up to anybody else.
d. Being aware and reminding yourself that there really is nobody like you. You might not be able to pull off all the things you hear your classmates do in music school on their guitars, but the funny part is: they feel exactly the same way when they hear YOU play. You’re better than you think you are, and nobody will ever be able to play the way you do. It is not about how much you know, but about how much of your personality and your energy shines in what you do.
e. Seeing things in the right perspective for what they are. Keep reminding yourself that we are all just people, who all have our own issues, problems, insecurities just as much as you do. It puts things in the right perspective when you keep reminding yourself of this.
9) Get rid of excusitis.
I kept this one for last. I like the French saying: “Les excuses sont fait pour s’en servir”. Freely translated this comes down to: “Excuses come in handy for those who need them”. Unfortunately: what that also means is that you can never truly reach your full potential and be your best when you hide behind explanations why you failed. This aligns to some extent with a great quote I once read in a business book: “People who have something to fall back on, always do just that”.
Excuses are something to fall back upon, and you don’t want them in your life.
For example: if you want to make guitar teaching your full-time income, don’t go work part-time in a restaurant as a waiter. I know you’re worried about the lack of income while you’re trying to establish your business. However: if you get sucked (and you will) into the job security and luxury of steady income, you are less likely to achieve your goal of becoming the pro guitar teacher you wanted to be.
You also probably will be too tired to work towards that goal after a long day at your job.
Instead: live off only Ramen noodles if you have to, and do everything in your power not to fall into the regular day job trap, or into anything that might distract you from your goal.
We live in a society where you are measured by your final results and your accomplishments. Nobody cares to what length you had to go through to achieve the amazing song you wrote, or to keep your 4.0-grade point average, or to how hard you had to work to become a successful athlete. All people ultimately see is the result, and that is what they identify you with. All the rest does not matter.
Building further on this idea: nobody really cares either what all your reasons are for NOT achieving what you set out to achieve. Your teachers don’t care that you could not do your homework because your dog ate it, or that you did badly on your exam because you caught the stomach flu the night before, or that you missed a really important class because your car broke down. You see: you can easily come up with solutions to all these situations. “Excuses” are the opposites of “solutions”.
The person who did badly on an exam because he got the flu or food poisoning the night before, could have talked to the teacher trying to postpone the exam for a later day. That student could also have studied harder during the entire semester so the success on that exam would not depend upon 1 night.
If you miss a class, whatever the reasons are, you can always get the notes from classmates to catch up on the material.
The word “excuse” falls in the same category as the words “trying”, “almost”, “if only…”, and so on. All these words belong to the language of the person who sets himself up for failure before he even started.
Don’t come up with reasons why you could not do something: doing so is too time-consuming, and energy-consuming. Get it done instead.
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