“Genius, that power which dazzles mortal eyes, is oft but perseverance in disguise.” -Henry Austin
If you are feeling like I felt many times during the past several months – stressed and anxious, filled with questions as to whether you had what it took to pass your exam – then do yourself a favor and really absorb the quote from above. I finally passed Exam P on Tuesday after failing the previous two attempts. I passed it by neither by luck nor by “genius” – I passed it through perseverance, will power, and a refusal to listen to any of the doubts or entertain any excuses my mind tried to instill in me.
I had to study for a long time and work extremely hard to pass this exam. I am a smart guy but I did not have the luxury of being smart enough to study for a month and pass it on the first attempt while scoring 9 or 10 like many other people. But you know what? At the end of the day I DID pass the exam and I know I WILL pass FM, whether it takes me one attempt or 50 attempts [please not 50 :-)], and ultimately all that matters is if you passed. So if you are feeling stressed because you failed or because you aren’t progressing as quickly or as easily as others, just relax and ask yourself: “CAN I do this?” Not, “Can I do this as fast as person X?” or “Can I do this by only studying Y hours a day?” Just ask yourself if you actually CAN do it and you’ll realize the answer will be “yes”! It may be “Yes. I might have to study ten hours a day for the next six months but, yes, I can do it”, but it’s still a “yes”, right??
So ultimately, while it may require a major commitment, you will still accomplish your goal, and as long as the job is worth that commitment, then just fight through it and don’t stress out about how long it may take you. Plus, the best part is, most of us “worriers” are actually a lot smarter than we give ourselves credit for – when we are able to calm ourselves down, we generally perform quite well!
“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” -Benjamin Franklin
There were occasional times where my frustrations led to me making excuses for not putting in the extra time I knew I needed to. Some days I’d rationalize that I didn’t have enough time to overcome the particular challenge at hand because I’d already studied for several hours and “deserved a break” or because I had other “priorities” that needed the time. If you catch yourself doing this remember the saying, “when something is important to you, you MAKE time for it”. If being an actuary really is important to you then you’re just going to have to make the time for it, regardless of how frustrating it may be or what needs to be sacrificed.
Moreover, don’t allow your frustrations to interfere with your need to maintain an appreciative approach throughout your journey either. Given the great salary and booming future job market, obtaining such an amazing job SHOULD be a difficult task, shouldn’t it!? So while it is important to keep a positive attitude about yourself when you are struggling, it is equally important to never feel sorry for yourself.
So I’ll leave off with a final quote that I truly love. This is exactly how you should treat any doubts or excuses as they enter your mind; you don’t bargain with them or compromise, you give them the royal boot!
“Regard every suggestion that your life may be a failure, that you are not made like those who succeed, and that success is not for you, as a traitor, and expel it from your mind as you would a thief from your house.” -Orison Marden