No one talks about these.
I’m going to share these with you 6 PMP exam mindset hacks in this article.
How do I know about these?
I have used some of these for my own PMP exam.
Over the years I have trained 5,324+ PMP students. I’ve had 4,784+ one-on-one calls with PMP aspirants and students around the globe.
Chances are, I’ve come across every conceivable blocker. It’s given me a chance to work together with my students to get past each one of those.
While we have covered study strategies in a separate course, I’ll share the mindset hacks today.
These are employed as a solution to one or more problems we tend to face while preparing for this exam. Use these and you will be able to take your PMP exam with supreme confidence.
May I request you to take a moment and share this article in your network to help anyone that may need this?
Don’t miss the interesting exercises I have suggested below. And let me know your results, I’d love to see your progress.
I’ve included a short video below you can watch quickly and take notes of.
Have you felt a feeling on the lines of..
“I don’t feel confident enough to take the exam”
- “In spite of having studied for several months, I don’t feel ready for the exam”.
- “I feel like I’m lost.”
- “I’ve studied twice, still I don’t think I’m prepared 100%”
- “I want to be able to recall all concepts at will, then I’ll take the exam”
Or you may feel some other variation of these.
You may feel the overwhelm by the enormity of the exam.
This, or a strongly felt need for perfectionism, is a safety mechanism of your mind. It’s a way to protect yourself.
👉 PMP Mindset Hack #1: Know that it’s just an exam.
I’ve seen people losing sleep over the exam. I’ve had students that lost appetite as the exam approached.
While some amount of ‘butterflies in the stomach’ is healthy, too much is not.
Know that the exam result is not a reflection on yourself. It is just an exam. An event. Not the end of the world.
Allow yourself to have the right perspective.
When you realize this, you will not allow it to bother you.
👇 In a hurry? Watch this short video 👇
“I know I need PMP, but I don’t feel like taking it up”
- “I don’t feel motivated to take up PMP”
- “There’s SO much content to study, I don’t have time for that”
Again, several possible variations, that stem from a lack of motivation.
The solution –
👉 PMP Mindset Hack #2: Identify your WHY.
Why do you want to take up the PMP exam?
Probable answers are –
- to get promoted
- to get my dream job
- my company has mandated it
- to strengthen my case during the appraisal
These are superficial ones.
What you need is the REAL reason.
It’s not apparent, and you need to do some digging.
Here’s a way to do it –
Take a pen and paper and write the following: “I want to get PMP certified because ____________”.
That blank could be one of the above reasons, or something else.
Now append a second line: “so that, ________________”.
This blank would be the reason behind your first reason.
You keep doing this exercise of appending “so that, ___________” till the reason brings tears.
The emotional reason.
It would matter to you the most.
Here’s an example for an overworking project manager –
“I want to get PMP certified because I want to ask for the promotion,
so that, I can take up challenging work,
so that, I can earn more salary,
so that, I can take my family on vacations,
so that, I can truly spend quality time with my kids,
so that, I will not feel the regret of not being part of their childhood.”
Potentially, this touched an emotional chord for that project manager. That’s his WHY.
The reason that strikes an emotional chord.
THAT would be your reason for PMP.
Write this down on a sticky note and stick it at your study desk, so you can read it every day.
Figure 1: Discover your real reason for PMP and write it on a post-it at your desk
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“Whenever I think about the PMP exam, I feel depressed”
This is the most common issue I have seen.
And the reason for this can be a few –
- unreasonable expectation from yourself
- not assessing what is really involved with PMP prep
- overwhelm of the goal, considering all of your other responsibilities
- not assessing the situation honestly to understand how much time you can carve out
And that negative feeling stops you from taking action towards your goal.
And that leads to procrastination.
How do you deal with this?
You kill that negativity by infusing the opposite.
👉 PMP Mindset Hack #3: Associate positivity with PMP exam.
What do I mean by this?
For most of us, this is the typical experience while preparing for the PMP exam –
- not completing daily/weekly study quota
- scoring low on chapter-level quizzes
- failing simulator tests
Most importantly, procrastination.
We tend to keep thinking about it, which creates negative vibes.
Overthinking without action (the typical result of procrastination) only makes this worse.
To overcome this, you’ll have to proactively create positive vibes around PMP by associating with the benefits.
This links back to your WHY.
Here’s another quick and highly useful exercise I’d recommend.
Build your support group of the list of benefits PMP gives you to enhance your career.
Take a piece of paper, draw a line in the center, and write “Benefits of PMP” and “What I will miss by not having PMP” on either side of the line.
Write all the points under each, without thinking too much, for the next 15 minutes.
Figure 2: Writing down pros and cons gives you positive points
Simply write down whatever comes to your mind.
Empty your mind.
Then order them on priority – the most important point goes up the list.
At the end of this exercise, you will have all the positive reasons to associate with PMP.
Whenever you think about PMP (whether due to procrastination or otherwise), remind yourself of all the positive points.
“I feel very nervous during exams”
The feeling takes different words when expressed.
- “Felt confident till last week, now I feel like I’m not there”
- “I can’t recall anything I’ve studied”
- “I go blank on the tests”
The good news is: most of these feelings are irrational.
👉PMP Mindset Hack #4: Learn to steady your nerves.
If you are like most of my students, at one point or other during your preparation you’ve felt moments of panic.
Many also come across this during the exam.
Trust your preparation, trust the process, and trust yourself.
You are where you are because of your own effort and dedication.
When you have those moments, the first thing you do is take deep breaths. Relax. Then tell yourself that, it’s okay.
Self-talk is your first line of defense. And support.
Understand that those are just fleeting moments.
They do not take away anything from the effort you have put in.
They are powerless when you don’t give them too much attention.
Remind yourself WHY you are doing PMP and how it helps you grow in your career (#2 and #3), and it will help you calm your nerves.
“There’s so much to study, I need to hurry up”
- “I’m behind on my schedule. It’s time to accelerate”
- “I’m taking the next week off and completing my PMP study”
- “I’ve done _____ in 3 weeks, so I should be able to do PMP in 4”
Ah, that urge to race towards the finishing line.
👉PMP Mindset Hack #5: Learn to hold your horses.
Let’s face it.
PMP is one of the (if not THE) toughest project management certifications, with a vast amount of syllabus to study.
You study the 10 knowledge areas, 49 processes, their inputs-tool-techniques-outputs (ITTOs), then Agile as well as Hybrid project management approach.
That’s a lot of concepts to study.
Plus, the exam is not about knowledge. It’s about the application. If you’ve been following my PMP articles and posts, I bet you knew this.
On the exam, you read the situational question, apply the relevant concept, and select the BEST option as the answer.
Simply studying the content is not enough, you need to apply them mentally. And that’s additional prep time.
It might put you in the mindset that “I must cover this much every day”. And force you to hurry mentally.
THAT, my friend, is a recipe for disaster, as I have seen time and again with my students.
You simply cannot hurry yourself to study faster.
Your brain needs enough time to assimilate the information and internalize it. Only then it can recall it at will.
And for that, you need to give yourself enough time, dwell on the concepts, and understand them. Rote learning simply won’t cut.
- Do not hurry yourself to study faster.
- Give your brain enough time to internalize concepts.
- Help it by supplying it with plenty of examples.
- Make mnemonics to recall unrelated list items.
- Catch yourself hurrying and slow down.
“PMP is ANOTHER thing I have to do in my already busy life”
Let me guess.
You have put in over a decade of experience. Many of these are in the role (if not designation) of a project manager.
You handle or help with, multiple projects. Even multiple clients. Possibly across multiple timezones.
You are aware that you are not able to give time to your family, especially your children.
You are short on socializing, not able to take time for friends, not even yourself.
And not, you have PMP to deal with.
I get it.
And this is how you deal with it.
👉PMP Mindset Hack #6: Treat your exam as just another project.
It is possible that you see PMP preparation as another add-on task.
Something new. Apart from office work, family time, socializing time, and time for self.
This new thing feels like a burden unless you are passionate about PMP and looking forward to studying it every day.
Unfortunately, not everyone is passionate about PMP. Some people are. The majority are not. I know this because I talk to my students EVERY single day.
What’s the way out?
Irrespective of why you took up PMP, treat this as yet another project as assigned by your manager.
Create a project plan (study plan).
Work on it every day (like daily tasks).
Use the weekly Sprint approach to hit milestones.
Identify the risks and create mitigation plans!
It’s even better if you actually involve your manager in this. Share your progress, ask questions, and have discussions on PMP topics. Even ask for lightening your load, if possible, so you can invest it in the PMP study.
After all, your manager and organization also benefit when you are PMP certified.
Psst. By the way, you can (and should!) ask your manager to sponsor your PMP. Many organizations have a special budget for it and they do oblige.
You only need to ask.
Recently I ran a poll for project managers.
The question was:
Which of the following do you think is most essential for your career growth?
- Well-crafted resume
- Online authority in my niche
You can see which option was the winner in the poll result below –
Figure 3: Recent poll for project managers
Certifications are essential for growth, and PMP is one of the most essential and useful one for project managers.
There’s a reason why it is so. It’s also one of the toughest exams to clear. With huge upside.
That’s why it’s essential to not just study well, but also apply these mindset hacks, that are unique to PMP exam, to pass the exam with ease.
I hope these 6 PMP mindset hacks given in this article has helped you feel confident.
- Overwhelmed? Know that it’s just an exam.
- Unmotivated? Use the given exercise to identify your WHY.
- Feel negativity? Use the given exercise to associate positivity with PMP exam.
- Panicking? Learn to steady your nerves.
- Feel like rushing? Learn to hold your horses.
- No time to study? Treat your exam as just another project.
Any question, or want my help to pass your PMP exam? Please reach out to me on LinkedIn.
When you are ready, here are ways I can help you with your PMP preparation –
- The brain-friendly PMP preparation book series on Amazon (over 14,358+ bought)
- Recently released PMP simulator, updated for the new exam (103+ students)
- PMP Last Mile prep program with hybrid approach (2,769+ students)
All the best!