If you have been away from studying for a while, you may be haunted by unhappy memories of school – unsympathetic teachers who didn’t have the time to help you overcome problems, perhaps even ridiculed you in front of the class.
Or perhaps after many years of study, you decided that you were never going back to school again.
However, at the beginning of a new year, or perhaps on a significant birthday, many people make the decision to change careers, but, if you’re like most people, you’ve found it can be difficult taking the first steps towards achieving your goal. So, how can you motivate yourself to take action?
First of all, you need to have very definite goals. If you want to start a completely new career, you need to do some research and answer the question: how do I get from where I am now to where I want to be?
Chances are you’ll need to do some form of retraining, something which will take both time and money. A major reason many people don’t take this step is that they have had bad experiences in school or college and dread going “back to school”. You need to ask yourself – how much do I want this goal?
If you are passionate about improving your life and committed to change, you’ll be prepared to do whatever it takes. However, there are some things you can do to minimize the fear.
If you haven’t studied for a long time, start small. Your research will have shown you which areas you need to gain qualifications in. Write down your final study goal, which might be a degree or a professional qualification. Then work backwards, listing the steps you need to take to get there. For example, if you are in the UK and don’t have A levels (exams taken at 18 for university entry), you’ll need to do an Access Course.
These are either part or full time and usually include study skills, but you might decide to brush up on your IT skills first. Find a course for beginners in a local college or on the internet and sign up. This will get you into the habit of learning, completing assignments and meeting deadlines.
You can start with a short course, which doesn’t have an exam at the end and once you are more comfortable with studying, you can move to something more challenging.
You could also consider one to one coaching or a skills exchange with someone who is already studying the subject you need to learn. If you are near a university, a student might be interested in earning some extra money or exchanging lessons for home cooked meals or the use of your washing machine.
There are plenty of books on study techniques. So make a trip to the local bookshop or library and browse – or read the whole thing and take notes!
If you want to improve your writing skills – write! And read the type of material you are likely to come across when you start studying.
If you are going to university, you’ll be expected to manage your own study and to get assignments in on time without being reminded. So it is a good idea, even if you are on a short course, to get into the habit of planning your time.
Make sure you start assignments early and set aside enough time to finish them. Whatever form of studying you are considering, efficient reading will speed up the process.