Helping students finish the year strong

When you get halfway through the year it can be hard to see the finish line, especially during COVID-19. Take a look at how to cope and focus on your end goals

Mike Tyson noted, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” 

This certainly sums up 2020. 

With changes happening so rapidly, what we need to develop is the ability to adjust dynamically to new circumstances as they emerge. 

When you’re a student, the capacity to endure and stand up to difficult things is vital on your journey to success. Many people expect success, they expect happiness, but do they ever expect they will need courage to face their fears so they can be successful and happy? 

Unless you master the art of ‘finishing’, you will never learn to respect yourself. Following through on a commitment and pressing on despite struggle grows your grit. 

Lots of people start but few finish. Do all you can to finish well in 2020 and you will build resilience for an incredible future. 

Below are three characteristics to keep in mind as you cope with the COVID-19 disruption to your life. You can apply these to your study and hobbies and they will help you finish strong and live with courage. 

1. Lead 

I often ask students to raise their hands if they are leading in a significant area. 

In a cohort of 100 students, I will typically get around eight raise their hand. This is mind-boggling to me! 

Every hand should be up! Why? Because every single student in that room should be leading in a very significant area. They should be leading their own life! 

Leadership solves problems. 

Leadership seeks solutions. 

Leadership finds a way. 

Leadership does not engage in self-pity or complains. 

Leadership finds a way to adapt. 

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” – Dr Suess

Being a leader does not mean you get to do whatever you want whenever you want, however you want. It also doesn’t mean you’re the absolute best in the world. 

Being a leader is doing what is required, despite the problems and setbacks. Being a leader is inspiring others with your actions in the face of strife. Leading your own life means pushing on and refusing to stop until you have achieved your dreams. 

2. Think 

Finishing strong begins with developing mental toughness in our thoughts. 

Our primal belief as we enter the second half of this incredibly different school year must be to ‘finish strong’. These two words combine into one powerful idea.  You can do this!

If you want to cope with COVID-19 and all the pressure it has created, your single-minded mantra should be, ‘Stay the course’. 

Feelings should centre around grit, determination and hope and your actionable focus should be to show up every day with fight in your spirit.   

Finishing a race doesn’t mean you won’t get tired. Whether it is a 100m sprint or a 42.2 km marathon, every athlete is tired at the finish line, especially if they gave it everything they have. Completing a race does not mean you won’t feel any pain, it just means you have decided the goal is big enough to endure the effort. 

Withstanding the pressure of a situation is first fought in your mind. Your thoughts have to align with goals, otherwise you are living a life that is heading in two different directions. 

Your goal should be to align your thoughts with your future directions and fuse them together until they are one, even if you feel tired. 

3. Move 

“Anything that is alive is in a continual state of change and movement. The moment you rest, thinking that you have attained the level you desire a part of your mind enters a state of decay.”  – Robert Green 

In the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, Derek Redmond from Great Britain was on track to medal in the final of the 400m sprint event. He just had to make it through the semi. He had posted the fastest time in the first round and easily won his quarter-final. This should have been a cakewalk.   

But with 250m left to go, Derek heard a snap and felt a sharp pain in his left leg. His hamstring had exploded and with it his Olympic dream. He grabbed his left leg in anguish and dropped to the track in a heap. But instead of staying down, he got to his feet and with the grimace of pain on his face he began to hop to the finish line.  The dream was over, but his new goal was to finish the race. 

The pain was so intense he didn’t look like he would make it. With a torn hamstring, tears streaming down his cheeks and officials trying to get him off the track and onto a stretcher, a familiar hand touched his shoulder. 

His father came running out of the stadium and on to the track. He embraced his son and helped support him to the finish line. 

Even if you have to lean on others to finish the race, you can still cross the line. 

Take a look at the video here:

Some might say Derek hopping to the finish line in pain was silly.  Others had already finished, he wasn’t going to catch them. The race was over, but it wasn’t about winning. It was about finishing. 

This was not about anyone else, this was about Derek staying the course and gaining self-respect. However, in doing so he has become a beacon of hope for millions of people around the world to just keep on hopping, stay the course and finish with pride. 

To cope with COVID-19, set your focus on the finish line. Promise yourself today that you’ll make it to the end, no matter what. 

See more: Find out how to improve your online study habits

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