Certificate of achievement - and why it’s not cult guru bullshit even if it sounds like so

. 2 min read

Would you like to hear a story? Can you keep a secret? And most importantly, will you promise you won't laugh?

Sometime during my second year studying at the university I read or heard somewhere (I don't remember where, I'm sorry) that if you write down what you want to achieve by a specific date, and put that piece of paper somewhere you can see it every day, the thing the paper states will become true.

You're laughing. I knew it. But hey, so was I. This sound such self help guru bullshit that it's amazing I'm not cringing on the floor.

But since I am and already was at the time interested in all kinds of personal development and mental hacks, I decided to give it a shot. I designed on MS Word a one-page certificate. I formulated it so that it stated: "On {month, day, year}, I, {first name last name}, will be a {degree title}." I signed the paper with a date and place, printed it, framed it, and hung it on the wall by my desk at home.

The date on which the paper stated I would have my Bachelor's degree was less than a year away. And if I was to achieve it, I would have gotten the degree 6 months in advance with respect to the university standard.

Guess what? I missed the deadline by 24 days. But it didn't matter. It was so close to what the certificate stated that I was more than happy. Besides, I had managed to start the Master's degree courses before I got the Bachelor's degree, so it was all good. I didn't know if the certificate and seeing it every day was the force behind my success, but I decided to try it again with the Master's phase. So I made another certificate, with the exact same formulation as the first one, but with a new date (again less than a year later), and a Master's degree on the degree title slot.

You probably guess what happened. I missed it again, this time by about 37 days. But it was still 18 months ahead of the university standard! The university policy was to have all students finish all their Bachelor and Master level studies in total of 5 years. Most students fail, graduating after 6 years or so. I did it in 3.5. I still can't be sure if I was able to do all of this because of the certificate, but it sure didn't do any harm.

I'd like to think that seeing the certificate every day, multiple times a day, made me study harder and more effectively by suggesting to my brain that if I didn't achieve the goal by the stated date, I would never reach it.

And I worked so hard. Sometimes I banged my head against the wall because I had trouble learning new things. But I did it. I pushed long enough and finally passed every course. It was a struggle, yes. But I never considered quitting.