Have you ever found yourself saying something like this?
“I’ve been putting it off until the last minute, because I just can’t bring myself to get started.”
“I put the bare minimum effort into this assignment, I don’t really care about it anymore.”
“I know I need to study... I’ll do it tomorrow!”
We can all relate to these situations, because at one point or another we’ve all struggled with motivation. Motivation is the desire or drive to put in effort, or to do something you might find difficult, because you know it’ll pay off later.
But there’s good news! Motivation (or the lack of it) isn’t something that you’re just born with. It’s something that you can work on, and take steps to improve in yourself. And the great thing about improving your own motivation is that its effects can be felt everywhere – your work at school, your health, and even your relationships with your friends and family.
Here’s a few tips that we like to bring up whenever we talk about motivation:
Find mentors or teachers who inspire you.
One of the key ingredients in motivating yourself is finding people who you look up to. In school, this might be a teacher in one of your favourite subjects, a careers advisor, a tutor at an after-school class, or pretty much anyone you respect and admire. A good mentor will listen to your problems, understand where you’re coming from, and give you advice on where to focus your energy.
Although it’s great to get to know older people like teachers, parents, and people working in fields that interest you, a mentor doesn’t need to be someone who’s twice your age. You’ll get a lot of value out of talking to people who are only a couple of years older than you. More than anyone else, they know what it’s like to be in your shoes, and if you’re friendly and respectful, they’ll more often than not be delighted to have the chance to help you along your journey.
Start to make habits out of your work.
There’s a massive mental difference between putting in work every once in a while, and putting in work as a regular habit. If you’re a once-in-a-while sort of person when it comes to study, you’ll have to motivate yourself every time you pick up your notes or a practice test. That’s a difficult thing to do!
If you make a habit out of doing work – even half an hour every night, for example – you’ll quickly find that you don’t need as much motivation to go ahead and get it done. Instead, it’ll just be something you naturally do, like brushing your teeth before you go to bed. Learning to make study a habit takes time, and isn’t easy, but it’ll pay dividends if you start small and keep at it.
Celebrate when things go well…
Once you’ve started to motivate yourself, you’ll likely find that you’ll start having a few successes here and there. These might be big or small, but regardless of how significant they are, it’s important to take the time out to celebrate your hard work. Doing this will motivate you to continue to work hard, and then the cycle will continue.
Celebrating can look like anything from going out for a meal to simply rewarding yourself with a night off; the important part here is to take the time to look back on the hard work that’s led to your achievement. After all, we said before that motivation is putting in effort for something that will pay off later – so when it does end up paying off, make sure to enjoy it!
…and learn from your mistakes when you don’t.
Sometimes, though, things won’t go to plan. Despite your best efforts, you’ll put in lots of work to achieve a good result in a competition or a grade in an exam, but due to any number of reasons, it won’t happen the way you’d wanted it to. That’s a fact of life!
It’s always disheartening to not do as well as you’d hoped, especially when you’ve felt like you’ve made a mistake or not worked as hard as you could. However, the you can’t let this drag you down – don’t lose your motivation as soon as one result doesn’t go your way.
In the long run, doing well isn’t about never making mistakes. Instead, it’s a regular process of making mistakes, then reflecting upon and analysing why you didn’t do as well as you’d hoped. Then, the next time you get an opportunity, put in the work to correct the things that went wrong. Motivating yourself to try again after you’ve failed to achieve something is what breeds superstars!
Take time to look after yourself.
There’s an old saying you might be familiar with: “Garbage in, garbage out.” This applies to many things, and it most definitely applies to looking after number one. If you want to sustain your motivation over a long period of time, instead of having it come and go in bursts, you’ll need to treat yourself well and make sure you’re getting everything you need to keep putting in the work. Otherwise, you’ll quickly find your energy and motivation fades away.
What does this look like? If you’ve read our blog before, you’ll probably be familiar with what we recommend: good sleep, eating well, a good balance between schoolwork and other parts of your life, and taking time out to see your family and friends. It’s not rocket science, but doing these things consistently will have a massive impact on your ability to keep yourself motivated and keep winning!
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