Using the power of visualisation to motivate

Sean Purcell

I wrote an article earlier in this series and if you have not read it and are planning to take your exam in September, I would advise reading it before continuing.

I’m sure that you agreed with a lot of what I said and promised yourself that you were going to do something about it and the question which I would ask you now – three weeks later – is have you actually done anything about it?

If not, please don’t beat yourself up, as even in normal times relying on sheer willpower to get things done can be difficult. I appreciate it can be challenging to stay motivated when you are working from home but try and see this as a golden opportunity to advance your exam progress.

Self-confidence is a key requisite for great undertakings. To succeed in your exams you must be confident, and one thing you can be absolutely confident about is that if you follow a structured study approach, covering all areas of the syllabus and supplement your learning by using ACCA online resources such as the Practice Platform, the likelihood of you passing increases significantly. On that there is no doubt!

Whatever you are aiming for, be it passing exams or winning an Olympic gold medal, the power of visualising your future success has shown to be a very powerful motivating tool

Confidence and motivation are also interlinked. Whatever you are aiming for, be it passing exams or winning an Olympic gold medal, the power of visualising your future success has shown to be a very powerful motivating tool. The Olympians we talked about in the last article will have been visualising themselves on the winning podium with a gold medal around their neck for the past couple of years and they will have now refocused to next year. If you have not already done so, I think it is really important for you to visualise the benefits which you are to gain by succeeding in your ACCA studies.

We are all likely motivated by different outcomes. It might be a gold medal for athletes but, for you, it may be the satisfaction of achieving the ACCA Qualification or it may be the ability to support a different lifestyle for you and your family once you qualify. Let’s just say you really want to buy a certain car and you know that the salary you will earn on qualifying will help you to do so. My advice would be go to the car showroom where a similar car is for sale and go and sit in the car, smell it, maybe even take it for a test drive. If you get a picture of that car, you can put it on your wall and maybe look at it each time you don’t fancy following your study timetable.

So, we have created our vision for the future and put it on the wall – we now need to take action on how to get there. You might want to reflect on what you have actually done since you read the last article. If you feel that you could have utilised your time more effectively in the past few weeks, think about what you need to do to make sure you use your time better going forward.

As mentioned in the previous article, one of the best ways to make things happen is to create a structure of living.

Everyone is different but it might be a good idea to create a wall chart from now until the exam date. Creating such a chart will show that there is still a lot of time between now and your exam. However, if this time is not appropriately allocated to everything we need to do over the next few months, there is a strong likelihood that the time will just fritter away in a similar way to the time passed over the last few weeks. There is also an ACCA study planning tool that you may find useful.

Another tip would be that, on the journey between now and your exam, put some milestones along the way. For example, at what point would you like to have completed all of your learning? And how long are you going to allocate to the revision period? Now that we have these dates in the diary, we can go about breaking down our learning phase of study into realistic manageable sections or ‘chunks’. This is an important task. 

Effective use of time

Some students will often spend hours studying a particular topic, sometimes a whole day. The problem here is that this approach is often ineffective, as it lacks clear direction. If you break your tasks down into smaller chunks of time you will be more effective. You need to create a purpose for each of these chunks of time and have them planned throughout your week. You also need to be realistic – we are all different and what one person reads in 30 minutes might take you much longer. The point is that it is all about managing your own sense of time and space.

With regards to space, it’s good to have a dedicated place for study, leaving everywhere else for relaxation. Constantly reflecting on how you’re learning, what you’re learning and why you are doing it (keep looking at your end-goal photo!) can give you that purpose and motivation to keep on track.

Reward yourself

Remember also that it is not all about work, and allowing yourself a treat once a certain topic or question is complete can be a good motivator. It’s probably best to avoid too many cream cakes though, as these are not the greatest brain foods!

Switch off the stream

To minimise distractions, maximise time focused on study and prevent yourself being dragged down irrelevant rabbit holes. It’s also a good idea to switch off all your social media streams until after study.

I hope that is useful and I will be back in a couple of weeks to check whether you are taking the advice.

Stay safe and good luck with the studies.

Sean Purcell BA ACMA CGMA is an ACCA expert tutor who regularly contributes to ACCA programmes around the world. He was recently voted 2020 lecturer of the year by PQ magazine.