Choose your hard

GCSEs are hard. A-Levels are hard.

But what's the alternative?

The alternative is even harder.

That's what we're thinking about today.

Choose your hard

The other day, my head coach, Helen, sent me a meme that said:

Marriage is hard,

Divorce is hard.

Choose your hard.

Obesity is hard,

Being fit is hard.

Choose your hard.

Being in debt is hard.

Being financially disciplined is hard.

Choose your hard.

Communication is hard,

Not communicating is hard.

Choose your hard.

Life will never be easy. It will always be hard. But we can choose our hard.

Choose wisely.

(This is the earliest attribution I can find for this)

This really struck a chord with me – and linked with something that I recently heard from Nicole Sachs who helps people cure from chronic pain. She says it's our choice,

“What hurts or what hurts worse.”

All this made me think about how hard GCSEs and A-Levels are, particularly at the time of writing (May 2021) when students are taking their final assessments after two years of disruption to their learning.

GCSEs and A-Levels are hard, but what's the alternative?

Struggling to get a job

There's a mum whose children are in my children's classes at our village primary school. She has three boys (including twins). She is a younger mum than me – I think she became a mum when she was still a teenager.

She works her socks off – and always has. But, she left school without any qualifications.

It was tough for her to find a job that would fit around school hours so she didn't have to pay for childcare.

It was tough for her to find a job that she was qualified for.

She did find a job in the end – but that meant working nights.

She bitterly regrets not doing better at school and getting some good GCSEs. And, she works so hard to make sure her boys get more out of their education than she did.

Lifelong regret

My mother-in-law got a place at grammar school – but her parents insisted she leave when she was sixteen to get a job.

They didn't see the point in educating a girl when all she was going to do was get married and have a family.

But, my mother-in-law is full of regrets that she couldn't go further in her education.

She always wanted to be ‘part of the workforce,' (her words) and worked as a dispensary assistant in a chemist, then as a teaching assistant. But, she could never progress in her work because she didn't have the qualifications.

Not having those qualifications was definitely hard for her.

Lost learning

My own grandmother left school at the age of 14 – the school leaving age in the 1930s. Her teacher said it was criminal to take someone out of school who loved learning so much.

But, that was it. She was sent, by her father, to the town 10 miles from the farm where she grew up to manage a cafe he had bought. At the age of 14.


I once went on a teaching exchange to Uganda. When I arrived at the school in the mornings there would be loads of students hanging around on the road at the entrance to the school.

When I asked why they were there I was told that they were overdue their school fees, and weren't allowed to attend school until the fees were paid. But, they were so desperate to be educated that they would stand at the entrance in the hope they would be let in.

Choose your hard

For most, life is hard. And, the past 14 months, with the pandemic, have been incredibly hard, particularly for young people cut off from their friends, teachers and normal school life.

But, for most, it's harder in the long run to choose not to do your best in your GCSEs and A-Levels. Having these qualifications don't guarantee that your life will be easy, but they definitely smooth your path to easier ways of living.

Choose your hard. Choose your studies. Choose your revision.  Choose your education.

Choose your hard. Choose your studies. Choose your revision. Choose your education. Click To Tweet

If you'd like some help making studying and revision for GCSEs and A-Levels easier, join The Extraordinaries Club where I teach students how to study in the best way for them, saving them time and helping them get better grades.


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