Set yourself up for a great year, from Andrew Fuller

A new school year can be an opportunity to set students up for success. Clinical psychologist and family therapist Andrew Fuller shares how our young people can achieve their goals while having an enjoyable year ahead.

Make this the year you will remember for the rest of your life as the time you really set yourself on the pathway to success. There are several surefire ways to make this the best year so far.

Build positive relationships with everyone you know

Parents, teachers, friends, everyone! One of the ways of reducing your stress levels is to set out to have as many positive friendships this year as you can.

Challenge yourself

You are much, much smarter than you know. If you practice doing your best in life, you will succeed because very few people ever practice doing their best.

Discover your learning strengths and build on them to steer yourself towards success.

To do your best, you have to get out of the habit of predicting that things won’t go well for you. Success in life is about doing more of what works for you.  If you look for what’s going to go wrong, you will always find it. If you look for what works, life often gets a lot easier.

Prepare yourself for learning

Thinking positively isn’t enough to successfully achieve goals. Implement ways to reduce distractions, at least for some time every day, otherwise learning will become a frustrating experience.

Sadly, not everyone in your life will be a well-wisher in your self-improvement and learning plans. They may intentionally or subconsciously distract you from your goal.

Get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep helps you to manage stress, stay happy and also increases your marks. You need at least eight hours and sometimes as much as nine and a quarter hours a night.

Eat breakfast

A lot of people skip breakfast, but you often learn best at school in the morning, and it helps to have some protein in you to feed your brain. A lack of protein can actually cause brain fog.

Do the most important things first

Get into the habit of being effective. Make a to-do list each week. Ask yourself the question, ‘What is the one thing I could do this week in each subject area that would improve my results?’ Then do it.

Your time is valuable

Many people muck around in school and then wonder why they have to do so much work outside of school. If you can focus and listen well while at school, you can save yourself endless hours. Some people find if they sit at the front, they are less distracted.

Teachers want their students to do well. Watch your teachers closely. Observe the things that they emphasise or repeat. Take notes of these things. It is a fair bet that these things will feature in tests and exams.

Small shifts create big effects

Do a little bit often. Succeeding at school can be easy if you do a little bit each day. The best learning occurs when you do repetitive interval training. This means doing a little bit of practice every day. Interval training is especially powerful in subjects like maths and the sciences.

Focus and immerse yourself

For at least some time every day, switch all forms of technology off and focus on whatever you’re studying.

Don’t try to watch TV, listen to music or gaze at a screen at the same time as learning something. Technology is not going to be there in exam rooms, so you need to be practiced at performing without it.

Don’t try to predict the future

Most students are really bad at predicting how well they are going to do. In fact, they are hopeless at it. So don’t spend the year thinking how awful your results could be. Just do the most important things first and do them regularly.

Be curious

Think of someone you know who always seems to know interesting things – weird facts, strange occurrences, funny jokes, and whacky stories. Try to be one of these people. Look out for and learn things that are fun and interesting.

Play more

Get active and break out into a sweat now and then. Lack of blood flow is a common reason for lack of concentration. If you’ve been sitting in one place for a while, stand up and stretch or bounce one of your legs for a minute or two. It gets your blood flowing and sharpens both concentration and recall. Even if you are really busy, three twenty-minute bursts of exercise a week make a massive difference to your stress levels, happiness and sleep.

Decide to be happy

Lots of people wait to be happy. They wait for the situation to be right. Or they wait for the right friends to show up. Some people spend their entire lives waiting to be happy. Decide to be happy now. Have a look at the things in your life you can feel lucky that you have. Appreciate the people who like you and love you. Make the most of the moment and seize the day. Have a fantastic year.

Copyright Andrew Fuller.

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About Andrew

Andrew is a clinical psychologist and family therapist, author and speaker, and a regular contributor to The Parents Website.

More tips about how to maximise your success can be found at:

Andrew’s websites  (45,000 young people in the past year discovered their learning strengths and found how to increase success and motivation).

Books for parents
Tricky Behaviours
The A to Z of Feelings,
Unlocking Your Child’s Genius (Bad Apple Press)

Books for teachers
Guerilla Tactics for Teachers (from
Tricky Behaviours
Tricky Teens
Unlocking Your Child’s Genius (Bad Apple Press)
Neurodevelopmental Differentiation- Optimising Brain Systems to Maximise Learning (HawkerBrownlow)

Explore Andrew's articles