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Maintaining motivation

By Grace McCabe, 3rd-year English major

Where has the time gone? I can’t believe we’re entering the final weeks of the school year! But before we can start counting down the days to freedom and fun (and hopefully some warm weather), there are essays to write, tests to take and exams to prepare for. I don’t know about you, but this is the time of year where I start to lose steam. With so many assignments due as the year wraps up, I find myself tired, overwhelmed and stressed out which in turn leads to a wee bit of procrastination. Okay, you caught me…A LOT of procrastination…

Often people try to wait for motivation or inspiration to spontaneously reach them — “I can’t work until I feel more motivated.” But there are actually ways to manufacture motivation (conveniently also the title of our online module on this topic)! It may take some work, but here are just three techniques that I use to maintain my motivation. Check out our module for more ideas.

1. Positive self-talk: Be kind to yourself. I can be my own worst critic and it’s easy to dwell on all the things that didn’t get done during the day rather than the things that did. Try to focus on the positives rather than the negatives and affirm this with phrases like, “I wrote a really good paragraph for my essay.” Positive self-talk motivates me to continue to do good work and gives me a renewed sense of confidence to go forward. Believe in yourself and believe that you can do it!

2. Set goals for yourself: Whether big or small, making goals for yourself is a great way to stay on track and stay motivated. Tell yourself that you’ll have a snack when you finish a chapter of readings (chocolate is my preference) or that you’ll go out for dinner with friends once you finish a big assignment. Earn the reward and find a feeling of joy at the end of each task. Remember that feeling and use it to motivate yourself to cross the finish line.

3. Create a motivational environment: I find that I work better in a setting of motivated individuals and people who are passionate about the work they are doing. Surround yourself with motivated people draw on them as a source of inspiration. In creating a motivational environment I am really selective about where I study and do my work. I prefer to work in a quiet section of the library where there are lots of other people studying rather than a coffee shop where people are socializing. Perhaps you have a playlist that you like to listen to while you study that has inspirational songs or gets you pumped up! Cultivate a feeling motivation for yourself and find an environment that works for you.

Photo courtesy of Richard Hurd under the Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license.