For students who aim for success, the secret of the aspirants who have reached the winning post is in these words: ‘Look forward – always!’ The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one. The biggest block to this winning attitude is the desire to slip back into the past and keep thinking of the worst scenarios!

Past-focused people sabotage themselves with yesterday’s mantras that become today’s expectations: “Yeah, I attempted that before and didn’t succeed;” “I got rejected once already so I’m not going to make that mistake again;” or “No one listens to my ideas.” The conclusion is simple: Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present toward the future. This is true of not just professionals but also of students who aspire to get into the best institutes and colleges.

Those who let their past get in the way of their future are making an error. Those who self-determine what they’re going to do, can do, or might be able to do by what they didn’t do, haven’t done, or even failed at remain aligned to an anchor of failure! Get over this as soon as and as fast as you can.

All that happened yesterday may be true but they forget that they’re in-charge of deciding if it’s still going to be true for them tomorrow. We cannot possibly change our past, but remember that life is about the choices we still get to make. It’s only too late when we give up, stop trying, or believe our negative self-talk press releases! Say NO to negative self-talk press releases!!

Students who are winning and tasting success in examinations know that what happens tomorrow is affected not by yesterday, but by today. They follow a philosophy akin to my refrigerator magnet’s counsel, believing “Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.” They don’t dwell on their mistakes, less than optimal performance or occasional missed balls. They accept them, learn from them and move on. Then, they do something so it doesn’t happen again. It is by far much better to let the dreams of your past be the reality of your future instead of allowing failures of the past to block your future!

Such aspirants and dreamers are focused on what is to come. Their energy is spent figuring out how to do better, not tearing themselves down for yesterday’s results. Try to reread this paragraph and grasp the essence.  There is a pithy Russian proverb that I’d prefer to share with you all: ‘With lies you may go ahead in the world – but you can never go back.’ The message is simple in its essence: Do not lie to yourself about your past failures because that will only mislead you into creating a larger than real image of your own capabilities. This could really be harmful for any student who has to step on the steps towards success one by one. Be real about your capabilities but do not allow them to dishearten you. This real picture will not only help you decide on the speed and direction that you have to adopt, but will also encourage you at every step for you will be seeing visible proof of your improvement.

In simpler terms, don’t allow yourself to be hijacked by what examination you didn’t clear, the concept-understanding you’re disappointed in, what pot-holes slowed you down, which subject gives you the jitters or what time-spans you missed out on. Let the past be the past. Focus instead on what you can do now to impact your future. What must always interest you is what time-table you can make now for a brighter and successful future… and the determination with which you can stick to it!

Every successful student makes his/ her share of mistakes. It is not the mistakes and blunders that matter; what matters is how well you handle them. The winning students decide to do better, taking ball catching lessons if need be and practicing, learning and growing their skills so the next time the ball is thrown to them they will confidently catch it.

It is vital to realize here that it is confidence on your own self, on your abilities that adds up and strengthens every stride that you take into a future that you dream for yourself! Let me quote Ayn Rand, the celebrated author who wrote in the existential vein: “Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all.  Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.”

Another major block is a rather strange one. Procrastination is the fear of success. Students procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the ‘someday I’ll’ philosophy. It is not just the past that must not be allowed to hamper the onset of the future, the fear of the future is also to be taken care of.

The future can be yours only if you want it to be. The secret is to think about your future, not your past.

[Arvind Passey]
Written for PT Education