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How to have the confidence to study something new

This article appears in: Balance work, life and study, Changing careers
CDU student Nicholas Glinatsis in the library

Deciding to finally start that degree or vocational training course you’ve always desired or one day realising that you want a change of career is undoubtedly a little daunting. We understand that before you decide to pursue your passion, you need to feel confident that you’re making the right decision. There are many things to consider including your interests, goals, strengths and whether you’re committed to taking the road untravelled. 

Here are five practical tips to help you grow confidence in your decisions to study, with help from Dr Simon Moss, psychology researcher at CDU and expert in motivation and resilience. 

1. Visualise your goals

You might hear this phrase often and file it in the ‘too boring’ basket, but it really is one of the most powerful ways to affirm your decision.  Take the time to really visualise your passion and goals and how you’ll get there. “This exercise tends to activate your subconscious, programs your brain, energises your internal motivation and enhance resilience", so allocate the time to do it properly.

This exercise tends to activate your subconscious, programs your brain, energises your motivation and enhance resilience

You might have a clear passion, for example to help others and make a difference and a clear goal; to become a nurse. Sit somewhere quiet and imagine what this will look like. What is a typical day in your new life? How will you introduce yourself to new people or clients that you meet? How will you describe your job to others? How will you be considered and regarded by others? What will be your proudest moments?

Do the same for visualising your goals during study. What times will you dedicate to study? Will this be at home, in the library or in a park? Are there practical blocks in the course that you’ll attend? What will graduation look like and how will that feel?

In summary, commit to feeling committed, and you'll become (you guessed it) committed.

2. Own your strengths

Graduation 2019 May

Identify what you’re good at and think about how you’ll be able to use this while studying something you love. Sometimes it’s not easy identifying your own strengths. A good exercise is to look to those around you for advice. What do others think you’re good at and when do they think you most feel engaged?

Watch for those signs of excitement; the ones where your voice gets a little more rapid, your pupils dilate and you feel alive.

If you’re talking about what you want to study and where you want to be, you’ve found strength in your passion. Use this strength to drive confidence in your decision.

3. Don't wait to start learning 

Spend some time at the local library. Skim six to ten relevant textbooks, especially the summaries of chapters, to start learning about your selected study area now. 

You’ll feel invigorated and have a vivid idea of what it would be like to study that course.

Explore the individual units in each course to see what you will learn and what specialisations will equip you for your next career.

If you have friends or family in the industry, invite them out for coffee to hear about their experiences in the industry and what it took to get there.

Learning is all about stretching, growing and challenging yourself. It’s also rewarding and empowering; and can help you reach your career and personal goals for many years after the last exam is over. 

4. Ask for help

It’s natural to have some questions about your course or the application process, and it can helpful to talk to a real person before taking the plunge. Get in touch with the team at Charles Darwin University to have a chat about your study goals. They're ready to talk and here to help. 

Want the inside scoop on studying a particular course? Ask to speak with the course coordinator or head of faculty in your chosen field to discuss the content and validate that this is the course you’re looking for; make sure your expectations meet reality. Also keep an eye out for events at CDU, which are a great opportunity to learn more about studying and meet the CDU team. 

5. Make decisions on a full bladder

And, to end with a more peculiar suggestion, ”individuals should decide whether or not to apply for university while their bladder is full.  Research has actually shown that a full bladder actually promotes more responsible decisions!”

So, let's start that decision making process. Join us to study at Charles Darwin University: find a course, discover how to apply or get in touch with your questions.

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