I recently received an e-mail from a student who is undertaking his International General Certificate for Secondary Education (IGCSE) exams in May, seeking some revision tips. "I am a terrible procrastinator," he wrote. "I am ashamed to admit it, but I haven't really properly revised for anything in the past five years because I get distracted very easily."
Revision is certainly on many students' minds. Examination season has begun, and still some students find it difficult to get themselves to do what's necessary to do well.
To those students I say: "Declare your intent."
Lynne McTaggart, author of The Intention Experiment, provides compelling evidence on the power of intent. Collating research findings from several universities including Princeton, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford, she concludes that intent generates its own palpable energy that can be used to improve one's life, help others around you, and change the world. William Tiller, a professor at Stanford, tells her: "For the last 400 years, an unstated assumption of science is that human intention cannot affect what we call physical reality. Our experimental research of the past decade shows that, for today's world and under the right conditions, this assumption is no longer correct."
While the definition of thought is "an idea or mental picture, imagined and contemplated"; "intent" is defined as resolve or determination to do something. Every goal emanates in the realm of thought, and for a goal to be achievable, it needs to be realistic and measurable. The first step towards achieving that aim is to declare it as an intent.
Entrepreneur and self-help author Steve Pavlina describes in his blog a cause-effect model in which the goal is an effect to be achieved and one's task is to identify and then create the cause that will produce the desired effect. He employs the analogy of making dinner where the cause is sometimes erroneously assumed to be a series of preparation steps. Not true, he explains.
The real cause is the decision to create that effect - the moment one decided to make dinner. The intent may have been subconscious, but it was still intent, and without it the dinner would never have manifested. That intent ultimately caused a series of actions and finally the manifestation of dinner.
So, students facing exams, declare your intent to study. Commit to it by making a revision plan because it makes you accountable to yourself. By refusing to fail or settle for a lower grade, you will have no choice but to succeed.
Pavlina advises against ruminating, pondering or asking: "Is this goal possible?" One not only wastes mental energy, but also, "because all you're really doing is creating delay, you'll simply manifest evidence to suggest that the goal is both possible as well as not possible. [If] you think doubt in your head, you will find doubt in the world," he advises.
What happens if a student does not proactively declare intent? Often it involves submission to an unknown force beyond one's control. The process of growing up includes asserting independence, and in my experience, high school students generally like to have control over their lives. Declaring intent is one way of taking charge. It is one way students can give themselves and their lives direction. The power of the mind that can manifest our intent is, in the true sense, immeasurable. To date, the technology that can measure it does not exist.
Anjali Hazari teaches IB and IGCSE biology at the French International School