Put away “shoulda woulda coulda”-type thinking
Ok, maybe you didn’t recognize that the child in the photo of question #64 was 18 months old, and you should have picked a different answer because of that. Maybe you would have picked a different answer if only you had remembered a key point about #123. Perhaps you could have budgeted your time differently, so you weren’t rushing to finish the exam.
As my mother used to remind me, “You shoulda, coulda, woulda – but you didn’t.” The point is: It’s over. You studied. You took the IBLCE exam. It’s done. Ruminating on it is pointless.
Find a way to burn off your stress
Last time I took the IBLCE exam, I was a nervous shaking wreck. The two-mile drive to the testing center felt like a two-hundred mile drive. By the time I finished I felt wrung out. I just wanted to gulp a big glass of water, stretch my legs and burn off my stress.
When you’ve finished your exam, do whatever it takes to release that stress. For me, a vigorous bicycle ride, a brisk walk, or 20-30 minutes on the elliptical machine at the Y helps enormously.
Don’t worry about the outcome
By late afternoon on exam day, I usually get lots of calls from IBLCE exam-takers who are sure that they have failed the exam. I understand the nerves, but almost every single one of my course participants pass the exam! Don’t let your worries overcome you. Odds are good that you did better than you think.
Eat something yummy
I know, I know. It’s silly to reward ourselves with good food. But you can feel a sense of satisfaction knowing that the job is done, and the pressure is off. After such a big push to the finish line, you can enjoy a treat. (I savored a great piece of baklava!)
Do something you love to do
I love to knit, and I’m likely to pick up a simple, mindless project so that I can let my imagination run wild while my fingers are moving. I allow myself to be transported to an imaginary place. I love the ocean, and while I can’t get there as often as I like, I can listen to the sounds of the waves on my iPhone.
Think about what you love to do. Let yourself curl up with a good book or shop online or indulge in some other little pleasure that you wouldn’t ordinarily allow yourself.
Taking a big career-critical exam can be exhausting. Even if you didn’t burn the midnight oil studying, you’ll probably feel better if you crawl under the covers early on exam day. Listen to some relaxing music or sprinkle a couple of drops of lavender essential oil onto a tissue to help you get a deep, restful sleep.
Schedule a “bathrobe day”
My friend Rebecca insists that for every stressful day we have, we need a “bathrobe day” of recovery time. I doubt she meant we need to literally wear a bathrobe (although I do!) but her point is that, after experiencing stress, we need an equal amount of quiet time when we aren’t pushing ourselves to do something. Don’t feel guilty about this downtime. You need it.
Catch up with friends and family
Odds are that you’ve probably put some things on hold while you’ve been studying for your big exam. Now’s your time to regroup. Put a coffee break with a good friend on your calendar, do something your kids really enjoy that you haven’t had time for, or give yourself the freedom to really catch up on e-mail, social media, or other correspondence. Reconnecting is good for you!
Declutter your environment
Even if you’re normally a neat-freak with a clear desk and home-cooked meals on the table, it’s a good bet that devoting your energy to the exam has caused you to let some things slide. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that! But now is your chance to get things back to normal. It’s likely you’ll feel better when your home is back to its pre-exam state.
Subscribe to this blog – If you’ve come to it for exam tips, rest assured that this isn’t all I post about; you won’t want to miss what’s in the pipeline! – and tell me: What will you do now that the exam is over?