I published my very first ILP post on September 16th and throughout the last 10 weeks I have learned so much about myself and about taking the steps I need to take to become the athlete, student, friend, and teacher I want to be.
I could not have taken this course and chosen this project topic at a better time. I have faced a lot of situations this semester that have tested my mental strength and this project has opened my eyes to so many concepts that I was desperate to discover. This semester has been very challenging for my mental strength. I am still adjusting to being far from my family, the demands of being a college student, being an education major, being a collegiate athlete, experiencing a spine injury, and working on maintaining important relationships. I have experienced more failure, stress, anxiety, and fear in the last 4 months than I have in my life.
The research I completed this year for my independent learning project has been exactly what I needed in order to discover myself. I think the ideas that I have uncovered not only changed my life or the better but I think that it has bettered the lives of many of my readers when they apply these ideas to their own lives.
Some of the biggest takeaways I have from my ILP:
You are your toughest competition. You can endlessly prepare yourself on content. You can study for hours, practice for days, and train your body for weeks. But if you are not mentally preparing yourself for the big test, the sales pitch, the job interview, or the big game you will be at a huge risk of failure because of anxiety, fear, and mental weakness.
Becoming mentally tough is a constant process. It’s never over and it doesn’t happen in one day. We as a human society stick to what is comfortable and we expect instant gratification. Becoming successful and mentally tough is not easy and you can’t take a break or a day off. You must practice building your mental strength and your mental endurance on your worst days and on your best days. Every single day. When you win, you set the bar higher and you keep working. When you lose, you get back up, you don’t give up, and you keep working.
Don’t let fear “blind” you. Live “eyes wide open”. As covered in my post, How Well is Your Sight? Isaac Lidsky explains perfectly the idea that we let fear distort our perspective on reality. We must do these things in order to live “eyes wide open”
- hold yourself accountable for every moment, every thought, every detail.
- see beyond your fears
- recognize your assumptions
- harness your internal strength
- silence your internal critic
- correct your misconceptions about luck and about success
- accept your strengths and your weaknesses and understand the difference
- open your heart to your bountiful blessings
Mental toughness is about adding positive habits that we resist and removing habits that are easy to resort to. Practicing constructive thoughts is not easy. You have to practice daily and it is not natural for us to do things like take responsibility or see failure in a positive light. We must expend our mental energy doing these difficult things and we need to also not waste our mental energy satisfying negative thoughts and habits that do not serve us, but hold us back.
It’s OK to fail. This one is huge for me. I have learned that if I am not failing, I am not pushing myself. I have failed a lot this semester and I have learned that that’s OK. You’ll never learn from your mistakes if you don’t make them.
Not only throughout my independent learning project but throughout the course of the semester in all of my classes and in life I have experienced failure. I have experienced mental weakness. I have missed assignments, turned in late assignments, bombed tests, lost motivation, given up, considered quitting softball, and considered leaving school. BUT through all of this mental failure, I have also learned so much about myself and the things I need to work on in order to be successful. Researching mental toughness has been one of the smartest decisions I have ever made.
That is why independent learning and personalized learning are so important, it allows students to learn and grow in a way that fosters their individual needs. This independent learning project has given me an opportunity to learn and grow as a person 100x more than doing assignments that may not have been as life altering. I think I will use independent learning in my classroom because allowing students to chose what they learn and how they learn it, I believe, makes a huge difference in students’ future success.