Last week I headed to Costa Rica to learn how to surf. It was my first time surfing. Not to brag, but on my first day my instructor told me I was very good. I then tried jokingly asking if I was the best student he ever had and he answered quite seriously, “No.”
“Very good” as in I was standing on the board and riding small waves (want proof? That’s a photo of me from last week). But my second and third days were less successful–early on day two, I lost some of the confidence my instructor’s compliment had instilled. Once I’d fallen two or three times, I became convinced I hadn’t in fact learned how to get up on the board and stay there.
After two afternoons of swallowing gallons of sea water, annoyed at myself for losing my game, I listened to my instructor’s advice: I needed to trust myself. I’d become convinced I was going to fall and so I would.
This lesson applies to the LSAT. I sometimes ask students to imagine themselves scoring 170 (or 175, or 180… whatever the target score). What does it feel like? How did they do it? Believing in oneself isn’t just about hoping that it’ll happen–it’s about trusting that you’re actually capable of getting what you want, and a way to do that is to picture yourself having already done or doing it.
If you’re convinced you’re not going to do well, chances are you won’t. But if you become convinced that you are, you might. Obviously acquiring the skills and knowledge to accomplish certain tasks is also critical–but alone it’s unlikely to be sufficient if you don’t actually see yourself as capable of reaching your goal.
Try this: imagine you just scored your goal on the LSAT–the official one. Write down how it feels. Write down how you did it. Start with, “I’m so thrilled that…” If you want to be super cheesy, hang it on your mirror (next to your “You are beautiful” mantra). What’s to lose?