There is a saying in Brazil that goes like this “it’s easy to be accepted in the university, the difficult part is to get out of it”, meaning that succeeding in college is really hard. That is the reason why many people drop out or stay in college much longer than they had initially planned. There are many reasons that lead college students to fail in achieving their academic goals, such as financial struggles, family problems, health issues, and this list can go on and on…
However, there is one reason that slaps us on the face every single day, often times unnoticed: lack of motivation. Take a few minutes to think about the meaning of the word motivation. What does it mean for you? Think about it…
The Macmillan Dictionary defines “motivation” as “a feeling of enthusiasm or interest that makes you determined to do something”, “a reason for doing something”. Although defining motivation seems to be pretty easy, finding your own motivation can be a totally different animal. Let’s take a look at some tips that will boost your motivation to achieve your goals.
Feeling motivated when your life is a mess can be a little bit challenging. Missing assignment deadlines and not studying enough for tests, because you forgot to check the due dates, almost always result in failing grades. Getting low grades is not the biggest motivation killer, though. The real motivation killer is the feeling of frustration and regret that comes with the failing grade. These feelings open the door to negative self-talks like “I can’t do it!”, “I’m not smart enough to be here”, “I will fail this class”, and so on. These negative thoughts may become a diversion from the real reason for your failing grade: lack of organization. Getting more organized will certainly help you feel more motivated, as you will always be on top of things.
When thinking about motivation, some people assume that they should have a motivation for their lives, but that is not always the case. I mean… if you’ve already found the motivation for your life, awesome! Go for it! However, picturing motivation as a long term thing can be hard for some people. If that’s your case, you should set daily goals to keep you motivated. It doesn’t need to be something big. For example, my goals for this Monday are to study for my Math test and to clean my room. Although I will do many other things during the day, I know that these two goals need to be accomplished because, for some reason, they are important for me. The real motivation boost comes by the end of the day, when you see that you’ve accomplished the goals that you had established. Feeling happy and proud of your own achievements, even the small ones, is the fuel to keep you motivated every day.
As I said before, avoiding negative self-talks is the key! So, when establishing goals, you need to know yourself enough to decide if you will be able to achieve what you have established. I will give my own bad example to illustrate this point. Waking up early in the morning is not my thing, it has NEVER been. Although being pretty aware of that, I still make the same mistake of establishing the following goal: waking up at 7:00 a.m. to exercise before going to work. You don’t need to be a genius to guess what happens when I set this goal for my week. Well… I get up early the first day feeling very good. The second day goes well too. Then, I make an excuse for the third day, and another excuse for the other day. By the end of the week, how am I feeling? If you said “frustrated”, you are totally right. My negative self-talk comes right away: “I’m not good at exercising”, “Exercising is not for me”. These excuses distract me from the real reason for my failure: I should exercise any other time other than early in the morning! Maybe I could even keep exercising twice a week, instead of every day.
Believe me! These three powerful tips will help you get started on working on your motivation! And remember: don’t let secondary reasons for your failures distract you from the real reasons. Knowing yourself is one of the secrets to keep your motivation up and be successful!
Good luck on your academic journey!
Guest post by Fernanda Carvalho
Graduate Assistant at Holman Success Center