It is wrong to assume that the more we spend, the more value we get. This applies to everything, and gifts and presents are an essential part of that. It is incorrect to assume that the more expensive the gift, the more the receiver appreciates it. This is something about which we parents need to educate our young people. I well remember times when we spent a lot of money on a particular present for my son, only for him to end up spending more time playing with other presents that cost a lot less.
In relation to giving presents, the real cost of this exercise is the investment in time. The time we spend having conversations with the people we love and also in thinking about – and perhaps researching to find – what they will appreciate the most. I know some people who are so organised that they buy presents throughout the year and they have got everything well before the horrendous Christmas rush! Most people who do this tend to be those who write things down and usually carry a small notebook of some sort. The idea of acquiring presents well before the Christmas period actually works best with distant relatives or friends, as we can try and figure out what we may want to buy them over the course of the year.
Making the very best of your valuable time over Christmas
I’ve met a few people who were able to escape for a few hours over the Christmas period and use the time to plan the following year. It is sometimes important to spend some time away from thinking about work and just relax and do whatever you find refreshing and which you think will help to take your mind off work. Relaxation helps to reenergise and have a clearer head and to be in better position to think about your main objectives and identify where your priorities lie in the coming year.
What I tend to say to my students is: make sure you enjoy the Christmas break, because the next main holiday is Easter and that is just before the summer examinations. Having said that, many students tend to study over Christmas – including attending revision courses or doing a lot of studying by themselves during that period. I see nothing at all wrong in studying over the Christmas break and I myself have been able to make use of that time in a very productive way in the past. The reality is that many students have mock exams in January and the Christmas break is spent preparing for that. However, my recommendation is still to find some time to switch of off and relax – if only for a couple of days or so.
We parents are only catalysts in the chemical formula of success
Many young people strive to be successful – which includes achieving high examination grades. We all know that competition for the top universities is more intense than ever. The top institutions provide an increased chance of getting a good job at the end, enabling the young person to have more choice in the future. We parents cannot do it for our children, but what we can do is to act as a catalyst – to support and try to steer them in the direction we feel will yield the best results and give them greater choice in the future.
Is not all about just working hard…
Most of my teaching career was spent in independent and grammar schools and I have had the opportunity to teach many bright young people. One of the things I have learned is that those who end up achieving high academically not only work diligently but are able to use their time effectively. I’ve noticed that being academically talented is less of a contributory factor to achieving high exam grades than being well organised. The ability to concentrate on a given task for a period of time and to do certain things on a regular basis is a key element to success. I must stress that working hard is a requirement for achievement, but relaxation really helps to focus the mind and to work more productively. After all, success brings power and power can only be developed through organised efforts.
In my next blog article, I will share with you my thoughts about power and organisation –two words that have a strong connection with each other. Watch this space!