In my last blog, which was written for all of the NEBOSH National and International Diploma students who recently had their mid-January exams cancelled at short notice, I wrote about the importance of recognising the emotions that the cancelation will have evoked. Recognising them so that they can be admitted to, owned and then let go of.
In this second blog I would like to move on to consider possible plans for the future.
The risk of burn out
As I mentioned in the first blog, it takes significant dedication and work to get to the level where you feel ready to sit your Diploma exams. People write revision plans months in advance and start reviewing and condensing course materials at the same time as they start their background reading on topics. And many people put in additional hours of work researching and answering past exam questions. All to get to peak performance at just the right time.
It is not possible to maintain this level of peak performance over a long period of time. Elite athletes do not train to deliver peak performance all year round. It’s impossible. If they did they would break themselves. For most mere mortals working to NEBOSH Diploma level is the same. It would be a mistake to try to maintain the peak level of performance that you achieved for mid-January through until the next exam sitting (whether in April or July or whenever). You will burn out.
Take a break from studying for your NEBOSH exams
So one of the first things you might recognise in your plan is that you need to step away from your Diploma studies for a period of time. Give yourself a break from it to rest and recover.
And no I am not suggesting that you forget the exams entirely until a fortnight before. I am suggesting that you forget about them for a couple of weeks or a month. So that you can re-engage in your preparation and build up completely refreshed.
The length of time that you allow yourself to step away from studying should be determined, inevitably, by when you intend to sit the exam in combination with the amount of work that you need to do to get yourself up to Diploma standard. Some of you were already there – working at the required standard and poised for a decent or exemplary performance. But some of you weren’t up to the standard. You know this and the exam cancellation came as something of a relief. So factor this into your plans.
Once you have set aside some time for recovery you can make a plan to re-engage with your studies and build up to the exam.
How you revise and prepare for the exam will be the subject of my next blog. The last thing I would like to talk about in this one is motivation.
Reflect and refocus
Now it is entirely possible that some of you entirely lost your mojo when the January exams were cancelled. All motivation right out the window. This is completely understandable. Hopefully the process of recognising your frustration and annoyance etc., as discussed in the first blog, will go some way to rebalancing you. If not then try the following.
Put the kettle on, set some time aside and think about why you undertook this course of study in the first place. Why did you sign up for the Diploma course? You knew it wasn’t going to be easy (and to misquote Coldplay; no one ever said it would be this hard). So why did you start? Was it to massively improve and enhance your knowledge and understanding of occupational health and safety management? Was it, for example, so that you could describe the difference between a deflagration and a detonation? Or was it, perhaps, to increase your chances of promotion, to get the job offer or to increase your salary? And by the way I am not denigrating any of the latter motivations. It’s why I did mine. You need to re-engage with your aims and objectives. See the bigger picture. Remember why you are putting yourself through this.
When I asked my teenage daughter about her recent practical exam cancellation experience she talked about her frustration but then went on to recognise that the situation is what it is. She didn’t choose the circumstances. They were, and are, beyond her control and she doesn’t want to waste time worrying about things that she has no say over. So instead she is focussing on the things that she can control and is very intent on getting good grades so that she can go to a good university to study the degree course that she wants to do. That’s her motivation. Remember what’s yours.
Onwards and upwards (or KBO as Churchill would say).
Dr Jim Phelpstead BSc, PhD, CMIOSH
RRC Consultant Tutor