Believing that you will succeed is the first step in making it so. You need to believe that you can do something if you are ever going to give it your best effort. The power of positive thinking gives you the momentum to deal with the most difficult challenges in life. Hope keeps us going, and gives us the confidence to see a task through.
But a positive attitude, by itself, is not enough. Simply wanting something does not make it happen. Success comes from using that confidence in the plans we make and the actions we take. Success does not come to those who wish for it, but to those who work for it.
No where is this more true that as you prepare for your USMLE. Confidence, by itself, will not carry you through and can even be a dangerous trap. When you feel confident, you are less motivated to focus on details and to do the kind of new learning which optimum performance demands. Confidence that gives you the energy and stamina to face the hard task and do the job is good. Confidence that makes you decide that you do not have to do much to get ready is bad. Some students wrap themselves in a positive attitude as a way of warding off the anxiety that actually engaging the study material can bring. “I don’t really need to study,” they say, and so they never actually review core material to find out that they have deficiencies. The question is simple: Is confidence a motivator that pushes you to achieve or a shelter where you will hide from your fears?
Success requires more than a positive attitude. Hope is not a strategy. Wishing is not a plan. Most of the people who take the USMLE are as smart and intelligent as you are. Preparation and effort are the only things that will give you an edge in this competition. Confidence only matters when it is based on a realistic foundation of learning, study, and practice.
Realistic preparation depends on facing your fears and targeting your deficiencies. The best exam preparation does not treat all material as the same, but allows you to focus on the topics and concepts on which you need the most help. Yes, you have to review everything, but some things, the things you are weakest in, will require more time and other things, the things you know better, will require proportionally less time.
Although it is tempting to simply study a certain number of pages, or do a set number of practice questions each day, this rote routine is inefficient. You must allow variation in your process. Some days you will find the material harder and need to spend more time on content study. Other days you will find the material easier and may spend more time answering and reviewing questions. A positive attitude gives you the confidence to make these day to day choices. Sometimes in the midst of your study you talk to a friend who is using a different set of study resources or a different study technique. Confidence in your own process allows you to maintain a focus on your own process and not be distracted by what others are doing.
The power of positive thinking is the power to succeed. By making a clear study plan and sticking to it, you can harness that power to propel you to your goal. Believe that you will succeed, but also believe that your own efforts are a key part of that eventual success. Confidence, by itself does not win, but does help those who help themselves.