Follow This Step to Instantly Become More Disciplined in Your CFA Prep

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By Zee

A few years ago, I spent a significant amount of time in San Francisco.

I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but SF is a massive gold mine of good food. Coming from London, this was a revelation and gourmet emancipation of epic proportions.

Of course, this didn’t bode well for my waist line. Upon returning to London, my doughy, pudgy, sorry self decided to properly get in shape, and go running every day.

My experience in the months that followed taught me something: a simple but powerful lesson that you can implement, today, to make sure you increase your studying discipline in your CFA prep.

How I went from full-time couch potato to crazy everyday runner, overnight.

At the start of my running efforts, I had to contend with a powerful demotivator – I hated running. I am not one of those types that naturally love to run or exercise – I am probably the laziest slob on the face of the earth. I detested running fervently, made worse with the less-than-stellar London weather. However it was the easiest and most convenient way to exercise, so I decided to stick with it and instead, see how I could motivate myself better.

My observations after a week or so were interesting: the majority of the barrier to overcome my demotivation to running is to simply make time, put on my running gear and get out of the door. Once I forced myself out, I found that motivating myself to run became much easier. After all, I was already out, the time was already spent, so I might as well run and get some exercise out of it.

So from then on, I’d motivate myself this way – every day, I’d tell myself to just get on my running gear and get out. If I really didn’t feel like running after doing that, I would allow myself to just turn right back home, and take the day off. No hard feelings.

The result? For 3 months, I never took a single day off. 

I eventually switched to a combination of gymming, running, and others, but for that 3 month period, this simple motivational tool worked wonders.

How can this extend to your CFA prep?

What is the ‘barrier’ that is most difficult to overcome in your CFA studies?

For me it’s actually getting started – getting my books out, clearing a space, actually dragging my lazy ass to the table.

If you can just tell yourself to get started, and focus less on how much you have to get done, your success rate will grow by leaps and bounds. I guarantee it.

Here is an additional tip to reinforce this: get an old-school calendar and print it out. Keep it somewhere in your house where you will see it every day, such as your refrigerator, or next to your bed. Below is a cheery example:
Just get started.

For every day you do manage to ‘set yourself up’ and put some quality time into CFA studies (even if it’s a little bit), mark your calendar with a big fat X. Eventually, your calendar may look something like this:

This simple habit will help you enforce the habit and routine of studying almost every day. Not only will this encourage you to hit the books more often (since the calendar tells no lies), it also allows you to be more honest with yourself about how often you’ve studied.

Small, simple tweaks like these are the key to changing your routine to becoming a more effective CFA candidate.

Do you have any similar habits you use to enforce CFA studying? Tell us in the comments below!


10 thoughts on “Follow This Step to Instantly Become More Disciplined in Your CFA Prep”

  1. The best thing I’ve done is make an spreadsheet on excel, whereby I log the hours I do on each date for each Reading in the syllabus. It is strangely addictive, if not satisfying to see the hours you’ve committed to study mounting up, towards the golden 300. Would definitely recommend doing this.

  2. Discipline and moderation are key in any area of your life. So glad you were able to share this experience with us, and translate it to school/exams/life in general!

  3. Without thinking it would work like you mentioned in the article, I started doing something similar but a little more in depth, and more rewarding. I had no idea how much time I needed to study each week and each subject, so I put up a table with all the subjects and the aprox time needed to study each of them. This came up: It’s very addicting to fill out the “Hours studied” and “Pages read” column. I love beating the time I thought it would take me to learn the subject, check the minutes per page, and try to beat the deadline so I can take some time off for games/gf without feeling bad. Some friends and study mates have found it helpful too, if you got any suggestions, they are very welcomed.

    • Hey Dan That’s a really awesome tool! This has got us thinking – perhaps we can expand this into a study log tool that our readers can use. Would you mind if we expanded on the principles outlined by you here?

      • Hey, please go ahead! I’m glad I can give something back after all the advice I have taken from you. Looking forward to use it too!

        • Hey, please go ahead! I’m glad I can give something back after all the advice I have taken from you. Looking forward to use it too!


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