What does skiing have to do with studying? When I reached the resort of Les Deux Alpes two weeks ago I was unclear too. But over the course of my first terrifying week of skiing, I found I experienced many of the same emotions as I do in my studies. Fear, panic, hopelessness…

This means there are some lessons I can take from my holiday and apply them to my studies.
Today I want to share these lessons with you to help you become a better student.

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5 Skiing Lessons to Help You Improve Your Grades

Lesdeuxalpes_improveyourgrades_skiing

1. Focus on your next few steps

My first few days of skiing resulted in what felt like 672 falls ranging from pretty pathetic to friggin ouchy. These falls were punctuated with moments where I completely froze part way down a steep slope. The reason for most of these mishaps was that I’d stopped focusing on my next few turns and started panicking about how big the slope was, how far I had to go to the bottom, or the scary drop off in 50 metres.

This happens in your studying too. It can be difficult to focus on studying today when you’re worried about your exam next month. It can seem impossible to write that first 100 words of your essay when you’re panicking about writing 3000.

So what did I do to fix this?

I started focusing on just the slope directly in front of me. Rather than look down and realise the slope was quite steep, I just focused on one snowplough turn and then the next. I concentrated on what I could do now rather than what I had to do later.

Try this in your next study session. Break down that scary task into smaller tasks and work out the very first thing you can do to get started.

For help writing an essay, check out this blog post where I tell you the first 5 steps you can take to overcome the blank page and get that essay written.

2. If you panic, reset

There were times on the slopes where I started losing control. My arms tensed up, I came out of the correct posture and my turns became sloppy. I started to panic and everything I knew about being a good skier flew out the window. This usually ended with me falling over, getting snow in my pants and then having to struggle to get back up with everyone whizzing by me.

Now this panic can also occur in your studying when your workload becomes overwhelming. You’ve got conflicting priorities, your brain becomes scattered, you start giving into distractions and procrastination, and you find yourself making simple mistakes.

When this happens, it’s time to stop, take a breath, and reset. Take the time to get back in control rather than barrelling along like a crazed runaway skier…

On the mountain, I stopped mid-slope if I started to panic. I stood up straight and adjusted my posture, shook out my arms, took some deep breaths and reminded myself I could do this. Taking a few minutes to reset allowed me to start again fresh with better form.

So remember to reset when you recognise overwhelm and panic hitting you in your studies. Take a few moments to tidy your desk, remove distractions, and get clear on your priorities. You’ll feel a lot calmer and more in control when you start again.

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3. Don’t be afraid to fail

No one enjoys failure; but it’s important to not be afraid of it. Firstly, failure is a sign you’re pushing yourself. My boyfriend told me at the start of the week that if I didn’t fall over on the slopes I wasn’t trying hard enough! And, secondly, failures are perfect learning opportunities to improve your skills.

The first few times I fell over were funny but then I started to get annoyed at myself. I started thinking that this many falls must mean I’m not very good at skiing and that maybe I should just give up.

But then I had a little chat with myself and started trying to learn from my failures instead. I worked out that I fell over sometimes because I wasn’t leaning forward enough. So when I got up, I corrected my posture for next time.

Or there were times where I fell over because I gained too much speed and started to panic. So I picked myself up and started again with longer, wider turns to slow me down. My skiing started to improve quickly once I accepted and embraced failure, and the learning opportunities they provide.

The same will happen in your studies. Receiving assignment or test marks that are lower than you expected can feel like a smack in the face. It’s easy to fall into feelings of anger or hopelessness. But this attitude won’t help you improve your study skills and grades.

As a student, it’s important to remember that there’s more to learn than just your subject material. It’s important to become a true student who learns from their feedback and mistakes to continually improve.

4. Feel the fear and do it anyway

Looking back I think I spent about 80% of the week in a state of fear, which is an odd way to use your annual leave! I felt nervous every time I went up a ski lift, and terrified at the top of each slope I didn’t really want to go down. But I never once gave up.

Each time I froze in fear mid-way down a slope, I had a choice. Either I gave in and slid down on my butt, or I accepted the fear and pushed forward anyway.

Every time I pushed through I felt fantastic! But I also cemented my belief that we should never use fear as an excuse to not do something important.

Fear is a normal emotion during our studies. You might need to choose your next module but you’re scared of taking the one you like because it has an exam at the end. Or you might be working on a group project and be terrified of getting involved or doing a presentation. Or you might have had a disappointing assignment grade and you’re scared of starting work on the next one.

Here’s a quote to remember during those times.

‘Everything you want is on the other side of fear’ – Jack Canfield.

Push through and take action to assuage your fears. You won’t regret it.

5. Look back at how far you’ve come

On my last day, we returned our hired skis and walked back to the hotel along the bottom of the beginner slopes. As I looked around I noticed the slope I had started on six days previously. I couldn’t believe how different it looked to me now. Earlier in the week it (literally) looked like a mountain. I remember how scared I felt at the top and that I just didn’t see how I was going to be able to progress to much bigger slopes. It was a great feeling standing at the bottom, realising how far I’d come and how many slopes I’d skied down successfully since.

Looking back at how far you’ve come is SO important in your studying.

Our education is so fast-paced, especially when you combine studying with work and a family, it’s easy to keep rushing ahead to the next goal and then the next. But set an intention to pause every so often. Take a minute to celebrate your achievements and recognise how far you’ve come since you started.

Recognising your progress should leave you feeling proud, fired up and more motivated to keep going.

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