Instead, I’m going to talk to you about optimism and exactly how much of it you need at any point of the test prep process in order to ultimately be successful.
The answer may surprise you.
The minimum level of optimism you need to succeed on any goal is just enough to keep showing up.
Cool, you’ve passed the optimism test.
You don’t need to believe the score you want is a slam dunk.
You don’t need to believe the college admission officers will be blown away by your application.
All you need is just enough confidence, just enough optimism, just enough determination, and just enough ambition to Keep. Showing. Up.
Here's why this matters: If you are under the illusion that you should feel better than you do right now, you are more prone to 1) feel worse about yourself for not feeling better or 2) quit. Quitting doesn't necessarily mean stopping your test prep. It can also mean stopping actively engaging with your test prep—going through the motions but not proactively finding ways to improve your performance.
And here’s the real magic: once you realize that in order to succeed, you need only as much optimism as will motivate you to show up tomorrow, you can stop worrying that you should feel better within the process, and you will likely even begin to feel a little bit better for just having passed the optimism test.
“I am someone who shows up!” says the voice in your head. And something about that feels good because every time you show up, you take one step in the direction of your dreams, and you recognize that little piece of you that still feels optimistic in the face of so much uncertainty.
Now, having this level of optimism does not guarantee you a score you are excited about. But guess what? No level of optimism guarantees you that score. There’s much more to success than simply feeling optimistic, and we have and will continue to discuss other aspects of the test prep process that lead to successful results.
But for today, give it a try:
Focus on the work. Allow your feelings to be whatever they are, while still appreciating the part of yourself that still believes in the possibility of your success.
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