1) You don’t want it badly enough.
You say that you want to get better grades and that you’re willing to sacrifice certain aspects of your life, but when it really starts to matter you don’t walk the talk. This is the most common reason: people spend hours reading motivational articles and watching videos, but their inability to ever take action, or rather to only sustain action for the short-term, leads them to keep repeating the same mistakes.
How to fix this: Try to keep some system of accountability, by either telling someone that you’re about to do something meaningful (and keeping them updated on your progress by sending them weekly emails), or another way would be to have a calendar filled with crosses when you achieve your goals for the day. This is surprisingly helpful, as you really don’t want to ‘break’ the crosses streak that is building up on your calendar.
2) You're surrounded by toxic people.
They say that you are the average of the five people that you hangout the most with. Either way, if you’re hanging around with potheads that keep claiming they ‘have the potential’ to do amazing but simply don’t try, then you’re doing it wrong. Or, I don’t know, maybe that’s the type of people you want to associate with. On the other hand, if you want to do well in school and are ambitious about your future, surround yourself with the right people. By this I don’t necessarily mean the smartest; I mean people that bring positive energy to your life, people that help you out in times of need, and people that themselves are amazingly motivated to do great things with their education.
How to fix this: All up to you. Don’t be afraid to completely disconnect with people that bring you down. Easier said than done.
3) You're being stubborn.
I realize that throughout all of middle school, studying at the back of the bus with your textbook open in one hand, a bag of Cheetos lazily scrawled over your lap, and one Apple earphone plugged in might have gotten the job done, but it won’t do for HL Math. I know that some of the advice you’re hearing is going to be crap, but if you don’t try new techniques or suggestions out, you’re never going to improve. Take it from me: I was horrifically repulsed by the idea of meditating. I mean, what the hell is meditation? Now in college, I can’t survive without it, and it’s done wonders to my memory that has benefitted me enormously in my studies.
How to fix this: Venture out of your comfort zone, try new study techniques, and consult people that you look highly up-to and ask for their advice. If you don’t try anything right now, you might regret it later.
4) You're scared to ask questions.
This is a really important one. People love to protect their big old ego; they’re scared that if they ask a stupid question everyone will think they’re not so smart or that they’re inferior. It’s all about status, after all, isn’t it? Society has constantly drilled into us that our self-worth is based on how smart or good-looking we are relative to our peers. And it’s all complete bullshit. People that actively seek out feedback, who ask questions because they genuinely want to better themselves and not for the sake of looking smart, do much better in the long run than their counterparts. Be vulnerable; don’t be afraid to put your intelligence on the line. You’re here to learn, and the best way to do that is to question absolutely everything.
How to fix this: I already addressed this above but something else that I’d recommend is to read the book ‘Mindset’ by Carol Dweck; it’s an amazing read and it’ll change the way you look at progress, especially in terms of your academic life.
5) You're comfortable.
If you’re really serious about improving yourself, whether that is academically or in any other aspect of your life, you should always strive to seek new uncomfortable situations. This is because when you’re comfortable, you get stuck in a routine, that although may be getting you good grades and make you feel happy, is not ideal at all for bettering yourself. And trust me, there is no better feeling in the world than looking back and seeing how far you’ve come after genuinely having put yourself in new, vulnerable situations to learn something new.
How to fix this: Say yes to opportunities that are outside your comfort zone; aim to better yourself a little everyday by doing something that you’re not used to at all.
6) You don't actively try to change stuff you're unhappy with.
This literally applies to anything you do in life. If you’re not happy with the way things are going, find a solution. Don’t just sit there and hope that things will get better. If you don’t understand a term in your Physics Class, and you’re magically hoping that your teacher will omit it from that exam, you’re screwed. Be active about learning; as I’ve mentioned above, ask questions, try something new, and don’t be afraid to fail. Just don’t sit there and wait for things to get better, becausespoiler alert: they won’t.
How to fix this: mentioned above.
7) You're not taking care of yourself.
You might be actively learning, trying out new things, pushing out of your comfort zone, asking tons of questions, but if you don’t get enough sleep, keep yourself happy, exercise, and maintain your social wellbeing, nothing will get better. You only get one body: take care of it! If you’re sleep deprived, nothing you learn will actually stick. This is especially true during exam season; it is absolutely vital that you keep yourself mentally refreshed! So many people just focus on studying 24/7, and that’s just plain stupid. To do well academically, it is imperative that you keep yourself healthy.
How to fix this: Exercise regularly, eat right, spend time with friends (before you start shouting at me that all of this can’t be done- yes, it can, I did it myself) and make sure to remember that at the end of the day your mental health comes first. Sure, you may be getting amazing grades, but at what cost?
And what if I told you that our eBook showed you exactly how to do well in the IB without sacrificing your life, your health, and your friends?