Whatever stage of the pre-med process you are at, to stay motivated in this super challenging space, you may have to learn some new skills. For a growing number of individuals, figuring out how to pursue their dream of becoming a doctor later on in life is one of them.

More and more “non-traditional” premeds are beginning to understand that in order to move on from where they are, they need to pivot from where they are in their lives and reinvent themselves are pre-medical students pursuing a career in medicine.

Much of the recent rise in “non-traditional” students in the United States can be attributed to those 25 and older.

Medical school is not just for the pre-med just out of college or fresh off a gap year. What sets pre-meds who gain admission into medical school apart from those who fail? You might guess intelligence, passion, or even dedication. Those are all smart-sounding suggestions, but that’s not what it comes down to in the end.

Non-traditional premedical students who achieve great things – like gaining admission to medical school – generally believe they can achieve and be just as successful at the “traditional” premed. For the non-traditional student who becomes frustrated in their attempts to prepare for admission to medical school tend to think their ability is limited and therefore lack a mindset to grow and be successful in their pursuits. So, whether you’re part of the group who believes that “whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve” or need a little help in the positive mindset department, it doesn’t hurt to take heed to these points to lean into your goal of gaining admission to medical school and view any down as part of the process. Here are a few points to get you started:

Choose success

As a non-traditional student, you already know what lies ahead and what you’re up against on the road to getting into medical school. The next thing you’ll need to do is realize that if you have any “bad thoughts” and question you ability in any way to get the job done, you can change that.

You can view them in a negative way as signs that you are not capability of accomplishing such a big task. Or you can think in a positive way and interpret them in a more beneficial way as signs that you need to adopt a new or better strategy and plan of attack, push yourself, and make a commitment to not give up on yourself.

Think of your outlook as a voice

As you set out on the journey to get into medical school and one day practice medicine, pay very close attention to how you talk to yourself in your head. Over the next few days, take notice of how you talk to yourself and the thoughts that run through you head when you’re doing something related to your pre-med dreams. Whether its studying for the MCAT or volunteering at a hospital, you need to pay very close attention to the things you tell yourself in these moments. Once you are able to nail down the dialogue in you head and control the way you talk to yourself, you’ll be well on your way to actively rework your approach to any challenges that you may face during your journey.