habits for effective studyingMaking a decision to create new habits for effective studying is a significant change. Moving from old habits, self-destructive habits, to a robust set of new habits can be daunting. There is, however, reason to hope for the best. It is hardly a secret that changing one's habits can be difficult. Totally acceptable results are rarely clear before a month of effort. But there are two factors that contribute to a successful change in one's habits.
  1. Genuine Commitment, and
  2. Acting as if for as long as it takes.
Let's look at each of these separately.

Changing Habits for Effective Studying: Commitment

The dictionary defines commitment as "The state or quality of being dedicated to a cause or activity." Commitments are sometimes understood as restricting behavior or personal freedom. The commitment to work for another, to marry or have children. Some, however, are quite expansive such as the commitment to get a great education or prosper in life or even work in one's chosen field.
I think that the commitment to one's education is among those expansive choices one makes. As you make the commitment to change your study habits, to move from poor habits to habits for effective studying, change may appear quite distant. You may begin to see your commitment as a liability, a deal made with the devil, or worse. You may feel like you engaged in a hopeless resolution to change. The commitment you make is often not made public. It is a personal vow, one in which you pledge to yourself the desire to make a change. It is a secret you feel safe in denying when things don't quite go your way.

Changing Habits for Effective Studying: Making the Change Stick

The first thing to remember about making is that keeping it a secret from the world allows you to take the easy way out. So after a week or two, it isn't going your way. Frustration that things are not quite clicking makes you wonder if it is all worth the effort. Quitting is easy because absolutely nobody but you knows of your pledge. If no one knows, what's the harm in quitting?
A serious commitment deserves a public audience. I generally advise students wishing to make changes in their study habits to tell three other people of their intention. Three people? Yikes, that seems like a lot. It is easily accomplished. Tell your best friend, one who will be willing and able to nudge you along. That's one. Tell your parents; in most cases that is two more. Three isn't so difficult after all. Some people feel uncomfortable telling their parents. If that is the case, select a responsible adult who knows you quite well. A teacher, your doctor, a minister or a brother or sister. Remember, three people is ideal but if all you feel comfortable with is two, that's fine. Only make sure it is more than one. Now it is harder to run away from the obligation you created.

Changing Habits for Effective Studying: Act As If

Okay, you've made the commitment, told three people, and now you are ready to begin. This is, in my humble opinion, the fun part of working through a difficult commitment. Experts tell us that it takes a full thirty-days to break a bad habit. After thirty days, the bad habit becomes your new normal. But over the course of the month, you are in agony trying to stick to the new rules you chose to take on.
You are facing a moment of decision; quit or stay the course. I suggest that from the very beginning you put on your actor's face. Act as if you are the best student in school. Act as if you are complying with your schedule. No matter how difficult it may be for you, act as if by doing what you must do rather than what you want to do. Do this for thirty days and see if you are no longer the procrastinator, the struggling student. I would bet that at the end of the month you are a significantly changed.
It is a thirty-day experiment after all. The real question is are you willing to risk a month on becoming the student you always knew you could be?

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