This is probably something you need to be thinking about right now. Here are three things you need to know to reach every milestone on the road to medical school:

Believe this overplayed saying. From the moment you declared that you wanted to become a physician to the things you tell yourself when things become challenging, you’ve heard the same thing: “Hard work pays off.” But you’re probably thinking, of course it’s easy for someone who is already in medical school or already practicing medicine, or even someone who is just trying to give you some words of encouragement to tell you to just keep pushing forward. But it’s true.

Whatever you want to call it, determination, persistence, grit, tenacity, it all comes down to the same thing.

If you refuse to accept any form of failure, you will succeed in the end. The power of persistence bring a lot to the table when it comes to getting into medical school, and in some cases it can even be more important than all the planning that goes into applying to medical school. Mike Tyson once said, “everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the face,” and when you “get punched in the face” as a premed, it is persistence and preparedness that may very well be more important than the best possible premed plan or premed guidance that you could have. As you begin executing the steps of your medical school admissions plan – signing up for courses, volunteering at hospitals, securing summer internships – even the best plans will probably need to be adjusted. In the end, your persistence will get you through more than you initial plan will.

You’re planning for medical school and this is real life. What is also true is that things don’t usually go as planned. So it is very important for you to be ready when an unforeseen challenge rears its ugly head. Whether you starting deep in the thick of it during your junior year in college or have finished undergrad and pursuing your post-baccalaureate degree, you’ve probably noticed that plans can change, and sometime very often. But a premed has to be confident in order to remain strong as well as determined. Successful premeds must stay focused on the goal ahead in order to plan for potential setback and adjust accordingly. Facing failures along the way does not mean that you’ve failed. Failing occurs when you let challenges and adversity cause you to stop trying. Another thing to keep in mind is that being persistent and tenacious is what makes premed successful. One of the top factors medical schools look for in potential students is character, which some behavioral experts say is built during the third and fourth time at trying to achieve a goal. Not the first time. During the time you try to gain admission to medical school, there will be things that are just simply out of your control. But that’s no reason to panic and make silly decisions. You simply have to keep a positive mental attitude and keep pushing toward your goal.

In the face of success, stay passionate. There will come a time when you’ll know you are getting into medical school. No doubt will enter your mind and receive praise and recognition from those around you. When this happens, you may face a moment to revisit your passion for medicine. The truth is, your journey is just beginning and you will need to be thinking of what attracted you to medicine in the first place and not lose sight of that. You’ll mistakenly believe that all the hard work is done – but the true is, it is just beginning. The less you think and reflect on your passion and closeness to medicine, the hard it will be to get through medical school.

Even with what will seem like a never ending list of responsibilities, it could be easy for premeds to get caught up in the “robotic” routine of someone planning to apply to medical school. But you’re able to guard against this trudge of being a premed. Try this: Every day, before you do anything, take a moment to remind yourself why you want to become a doctor. This is important for you to stay pumped and motivated about practicing medicine, and it is important for your premed potential. Your passion inspires you and will be evident to medical school admission committees when the time comes to speak with the face to face. Your passion speaks to why you are doing what you are doing. As it become more and more competitive to gain admission to medical school, it is your passion that will ultimately differentiate  you for other applicants. Without it, you put your admission to medical school at risk. Keep fueling your “why” as you pursue admission to medical school.

Another thing successful premeds do to stay passionate about becoming a doctor is to fall in love with a problem, issue, or challenge in health care. By falling in love with a problem, you as a premed are able to adjust and adapt to personal challenges and obstacles because you know the end goal and are diligently working toward a solution. Many premeds fail because they fall in love with the thought of becoming a doctor. Don’t let that happen to you. Put a legitimate reason behind why you want to practice medicine. Don’t freak out. Everything will be okay. If you’ve ever heard the say “grow where you are planted” this will go a long way as you pursue your dream of becoming a doctor (with a passion for something, of course). Medical school success stories are often filled with accounts about getting through difficult times to emerge as a better applicant and student. And a successful premed journey is not for the faint of heart or for the weak of spirit. Thinking about the bigger picture and the grand scheme of things when it comes to getting into medical school can do wonders. By thinking big picture and end goal, you may find it easier to overcome tough times and handle the ups and downs of the medical school journey much better than those who are shortsighted. A successful premed’s life is incomplete without challenges. Studying long hours, MCAT pressure, tough courses and stress are unavoidable, but as a premed, defeating challenges and failure is key to the success of your journey. To help stay positive and reassure yourself that everything will be fine, try repeating positive affirmations about who you are and what you are capable of achieving. By telling yourself over and over gain (with conviction) that you have what it takes to get into medical school, you are basically training your brain to believe what you are staying. Choose a couple sayings for yourself that represent your goals and what you are passionate about, such as ‘I can handle whatever comes my way in biochemistry,” or “there is a lesson in everything.” The act of repeating these says will change the way you react to negative things that happen, making you more resilient in the end. And each time a negative thought enters your mind, don’t dwell on it.