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Reasons not to give up #3: obstacles are there to be overcome

by Amanda Collins

Is there some magic ingredient that will fast-forward us through troubles and into success?

As much as we’d love to say yes, the answer is that in life you will always face problems, you cannot avoid them, but you can use them as an opportunity to build a better you. You can use them to propel you into success!

Below we’ve listed a number of ways that you can deal with the struggles that life may throw at you. Simple, easy and completely do-able, these strategies will help you navigate your roadblocks and get back on track.

Look at the big picture

What is it that you want to get out of your course? Do you want a new job? A better job? A pay rise? To pursue the career you have always dreamt of?

Write down what it is you want out of this course. What will your life look like when you achieve this? Visualise that picture. That is what you are working towards. This study period is just a stepping stone to your fabulous new life.

Keep that piece of paper in your wallet or on your desk. Take it out and look at it at the start of every week. Remind yourself of the bigger picture.

Small steps lead to success

Having big goals can make tasks seem overwhelming, but in reality big goals are achieved by breaking them down into much smaller tasks and simply, methodically, knocking one off after the other.

To give you an example, as you read last week, Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, started his company with a small student magazine, and step by step worked it up to the global powerhouse it is today.

Success won’t happen instantly, but it will happen as the result of small, successive steps.

So the key here is to break down your study into small blocks. Can you spare an hour a day to do one reading? Watch one video?

You will be amazed at how much you can get through by the end of the week by just doing an hour at a time.

Reach out to your support network

Having people or a person to support you is important when you are facing a roadblock. They could be a friend, a partner, a work buddy or a family member who you chat to over coffee, over the phone or when going for a walk.

It is especially important to cultivate your support networks when you are stressed. Even when all you want to do is curl up into a ball under a blanket, reach out, call someone and talk to them about what you’re going through. You will be surprised at the difference it makes.

All the trainers, assessors and support staff at Open Colleges are also available to help you out with any study, assignment or work placement questions, queries and issues that you are having, so make sure you reach out when you need to.

Have compassion for yourself

Don’t beat yourself up over where you are at. Mistakes and setbacks are part of life and being human. Consider how you would treat or talk to someone you love who was in your situation.

Now apply that same kindness to yourself. And remember, you will make it through this, as the old saying goes “this too shall pass”.

Tackle procrastination

Procrastination is often harder on you than actually doing the work would be. Just think of all the stress, anxiety and low self-esteem it causes.

So why do people procrastinate? There are a few answers to that, mostly however the answer is, we procrastinate because it is a habit.

The fantastic news is that habits can be broken. So let’s get started!

Procrastination Busters!

  • Work out exactly why you are avoiding the task. Is it boring? Frustrating? Difficult? Once you have narrowed the reason down, change the way you approach the task to make it more appealing. For instance, if a task is dull, think about how you could make it interesting. Could you make it a game? See how much you can get done in 20 minutes? Or can you take your study outside on the grass in the fresh air?

  • Work out what it is that you are telling yourself when you procrastinate. Is it “I’ll start first thing tomorrow” or “I will just take a quick break before I start so that I can refresh”? Once you know these arguments, work out ways to counter them by saying things like “If I start now I can have so much work done by tomorrow” and “I’ll do an hour now then take a five minute break”. Use your rebuttals to give you the momentum to start.
  • Set yourself a time limit for work and stick to it. For instance set yourself a limit of 40 minutes within which you need to have your first draft written. Don’t give yourself any more time. It is amazing what you can get done when you have a time constraint.
  • Motivate yourself for the first five minutes. Just like exercise, the first five minutes of any task is really the only time that you will need to motivate yourself, once you get in the groove, you will usually find that you will keep going until your set amount of time is up.

  • Think about the cost of procrastination. Get a pen and paper and write down a task that you have been procrastinating over. Now next to that write down how much procrastinating over that task has cost you in terms of happiness, health, stress, relationships and finances. You will soon realise that procrastination wastes your precious life, it’s much better and less costly, to just get started.
  • Get in touch with your future. It is easy to think of our future selves as an abstract. Because of this, we are happy to load them up with a lot of tasks. Instead, make friends with your future self. Write yourself a letter and tell yourself how your current actions will benefit your future self.
    • You could also take a few minutes to visualise your future, what do you want it to look like? If you stop procrastinating and get on with your work, what will your future look like in 5, 10, 15, 20 years? If you continue to procrastinate, what will your future look like in 5, 10, 15, 20 years?
  • Turn off social media. When you sit down to start study, block Facebook, Twitter and any other websites that you find take your interest. If you don’t have the will power, use apps like RescuetimeStayFocusd or Freedom to block distracting websites.
  • Make a concrete list and stick to it. Write a list of all the tasks that you need to get done and stick to it. Cross them off one by one as you work your way down. It’s amazing how satisfying crossing things off lists can be.
  • Stop staring at the clock and just commit to doing the task. Constantly staring at the clock and wondering when the time will come to stop working is incredibly distracting and counterproductive. Instead, set a phone alarm. Put your phone in a place where you can’t see it and commit to just working until the alarm sounds.
  • Let go of trying to do it perfectly. Perfect does not exist. Just aim to do the task. Start intimidating projects by just getting started. Can’t think of the perfect first sentence? Just write any sentence.
  • Stop thinking and start doing. If you want to make an easy task seem hard, just put off doing it. If you think too long about doing something, it’s likely you just won’t do it. Putting something off makes it a bigger thing in your mind. Plan a little and then take action. Just focus on taking the first step today, then the second tomorrow.

If it’s hard, get the help you need

It is essential that you seek help when you find tasks hard. Don’t stew on it, don’t suffer in silence. Pick up the phone and call Student Support, message your trainers and assessors, or get involved in student forums. Help is just a question away.

We all face adversity and obstacles in life. It is part of the journey. How you think about and respond to these situations will very often determine your future path. You are capable of doing great things, and with the tips above you will be able to tackle your roadblocks head on to create a strong and successful future while at the same time building a better version of yourself.

It is possible, just give it a try!

Get back on track now!

Are you feeling inspired to get back to study? Don’t plan to do it, take action and log into OpenSpace today! a Put in the work and make your dreams come true, it is possible, and today’s the day you make it happen.

4 Responses

  1. Ruth Sim Brummell says:

    I have asked and asked for the course content to be presented in a video form, explaining all aspects of what you require. This is for all the dyslexics of this world, but it has fallen on deaf ears.
    I am so glad that you have spent all that time and money on motivating students, it is just a pity, you can’t listen to constructive criticism and just listen to someone who knows it would help all students.

    • Sarah MacDiarmid says:

      Hi Ruth,

      Thanks for your comment. A lot of our courses now include video tutorials and introductions to units of study. This is an ongoing project and it will take some time until all courses include video content. We understand that different students find it easier to learn in different ways so are working towards offering content in a range of mediums across all of our courses.

      Thanks again,
      Sarah, Open Colleges team

  2. Wanda Metcalfe says:

    I find it ironic that you publish a whole blog post about overcoming obstacles and roadblocks, yet show little empathy and very limited help for people with uncontrolled and unpredictable chronic illnesses.
    I needed far more than 6 months to control and recover from my epilepsy and could not afford the $50p/w extension fees. I was unable to focus or complete tasks for over 12 months, and was only given the option of 6 months deferral.
    It was a waste of my full payment and I came out with no qualification. It was, and still is (as a now ex-student) incredibly depressing to feel like a failure due to my chronic illness. Most other educational institutions are far more accommodating.

    • Sarah MacDiarmid says:

      Hi Wanda,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Open Colleges have a Special Consideration process in which we identify if students require more time or additional support to finish their studies. I would like to apologise if you were not made aware of this process at the time.

      I’ve spoken to one of our Resolution Officers who has asked if you would like to have a discussion regarding some potential steps moving forward. I’ve just sent you an email with more information so please do let us know if you’d like to discuss this further and we can arrange to do so at a time that suits you.

      Thanks again and all the best,
      Sarah, Open Colleges team

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