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Lesson 5: Consistency is Key

As the ancient Chinese proverb says:

The Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

However, this proverb only tells you how to start the journey. I’m going to tell you how to FINISH it!

If I could use only ONE word to describe what it takes to become a Laureate, I would say consistency. This is the single most important attribute that a student can have. Without consistency, there can be no sustainable progress in your mission to become a Laureate. If you want to reach your full marks target, you need to make progress every day, no matter how small. Small progress is better than no progress at all. In an ideal world, we would be making huge leaps in progress every single day. For example, in a perfect world, we would be able to revise the whole syllabus the day before the exam and still obtain full marks. However, this is the real world, and we are all human beings, not supercomputers. In terms of studies and revision, we cannot make massive progress in a short time, regardless of how smart we are (or think we are). We all have a limited number of study hours in a day and a limited number of days left before our exams.

However, what we can do is make small progress on a daily basis over a relatively long period of time. For example, suppose you are just starting Lower Six (or Grade 12). When competing to become a Laureate, you typically study 5 subjects – 3 Mains and 2 Subs. Your goal is to obtain full marks in all 5 subjects, i.e., you need 100% in 5 subjects. 100% multiplied by 5 is 500%. Now, count how many days there are between the start of Lower Six and the final HSC exams. There are over 600 days. This might seem to be a long time, but if you do not learn how to manage that time, you may well find yourself out of the race to become a Laureate.

This is a MARATHON, not a Sprint.

To achieve your full marks goal, you need to start thinking like someone who is running a marathon and not a sprint. You need to have that long-term vision. A sprinter runs as fast as he/she can for a short period of time. Sprinters spend all their energy on a small burst of incredible speed. However, marathon runners know how to pace themselves, so that they can win the race without burning out. In other words, they run at a relatively slow speed, but they KEEP UP that speed CONSISTENTLY throughout the race. We are all familiar with the Tortoise and the Hare story. This is somewhat an extreme example but the Tortoise wins the race because he kept moving forward, albeit at a slow pace. If you are unfamiliar with this story, I recommend you watch it below:

Slow and Steady wins the Race.

Suppose that in one day, you make progress of only 1% towards your 500% objective (Recall that 5 multiplied by 100% equals 500%). This seems insignificant, right? No big deal? Does it take a lot of time and effort to make a progress of 1%? Of course not! 1% is minuscle. In fact, it is so tragically small that most students fail to grasp the power of this seemingly insignificant 1%. Imagine 500% as 500 steps. You need to climb 500 steps to reach your goal. If you climb 1 single step, would this make a big difference to you? Would you feel a lot of satisfaction and pride in completing only one single step? Of course not! It’s just one step after all. However, suppose you climb 1 step EVERY SINGLE DAY. You would attain your 500% objective in 500 days. This is the spirit of consistency! Simple, productive actions done daily is the ultimate recipe for success because it enables you to become a Laureate without burning yourself out. Would you burn out if you only take one step a day? Of course not! Do you need to be a super-smart student to take one step? No! Do you need to be studying at a so-called “Star” school to take that single step? No! No! No!

Just Keep Moving!

The same principle works at whichever stage you are in your studies. First, you need to determine how far you are from your 500% objective. Suppose you decide that you’ve still got 300% to go. The second objective is to determine how many days you have left before your exams. For instance, you might have 150 days left. The third and final step is to divide 300% by 150 days, which means that you’ll need to complete 2 steps in one day to attain your objective. Now, suppose that you only had 100 days left. This would mean that you need 3 steps a day. If you only had 50 days, that would mean 6 steps a day. You can easily see that the longer you wait to start studying consistently, the harder it’s going to be. So, my advice is this:

Devise a study plan based on the principle of consistency and stick to it. Then, start immediately, whether you think you are ready or not.

Consistency takes a lot of Discipline. In fact, Consistency and Discipline are two sides of the same coin. To become more consistent, you need to become more disciplined. You need the discipline to take that 1 single step every day without missing any single day.

Consistency creates momentum. It is imperative that you don’t stop, even for a single day. If you stop, you’ll lose momentum and you’ll have to waste valuable time to gain that momentum again. It’s very easy to take one step. However, it’s also tragically easy not to make that one step. It’s tragically easy to tell yourself that you can take a short break for a few days and that you’ll start again later. A few steps missed won’t make a difference, right? Wrong! Those few steps missed are what make the difference between the Laureates and the ones who come just after. Always bear this in mind if you want to become a Laureate!

I’ve got some excellent news for you:

Even if you do not consider yourself an “elite” student or go to a so-called “elite” school, if you can take that one step every day, you CAN become a Laureate! I believe any student can become a Laureate if they understand the importance of consistency and discipline.

Thus, the Key Takeaway is:

Be consistent! Progress is progress, no matter how small.

Do you have any questions or comments? Post them below!

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