Staying motivated can be difficult when we lose track of what it is we are reaching for. Having just come back from Spring Break, with five weeks until finals, managing motivation has gotten harder now. Perspective can be clouded by the downpour of readings, essays, projects, and exams college students face. For those who are also working part-time jobs, that downpour may feel like a hurricane. Each of us have different stories of confusion and stress that wear down our motivation to continue our journey to obtain a degree. When our motivation takes those hits, doubt creeps up on us. Do not let that doubt fester and affect your grades. Your education matters; your dreams and goals matter, you matter. Here are some ways to protect yourself from that doubt and to get your motivation back.
Start with remembering why you are doing what you are doing. Motivation comes from the drive of having a goal in mind. As college students, the current long-term goal is our degree. For some, there is an even longer-term goal behind that. However, by looking so far ahead, everything else that comes along the way may feel like a surprise. This takes tolls on our motivation; seeing the goal(s) so far away may make us lose our drive to get there. When the mind is cluttered, it will not be focused enough to see what needs to be done. This is when revaluation is needed.
Now that Poets have returned from Spring Break — whether we managed to give ourselves a vacation, or if we spent time working on projects to get ahead (or catch up) — you should take a moment to clear everything off the table, and I mean that literally. Evaluate your working space and clear the path in front of you from the clutter and trash.
Have an empty cup from the Spot on your desk? Toss it in the trash. Have shoes lying around the room? Pick them up; put them away. By doing a sort of ‘spring cleaning,’ you evaluate the things in your life that you need, the things you have outgrown, and the things you are ready to let go of. This ‘spring cleaning’ gives you a renewed sense of accomplishment and opens space for you to start facing your goals.
Continue by looking at the short-term goals in front of you — what is due in the next few hours, days, weeks, months — and start taking things off of your to-do list. You can build up good habits by using agendas. Agendas allow you to see your current schedule through a layout of: assignments, due dates, and important dates. You can better manage your priorities by seeing what is time sensitive and needs to be handled soon, and what you can put off for the time being. By further developing yourself as a more organized student, you will find your motivation takes less damage from surprise assignments that have been on the syllabus since week one.
Additionally, crossing things off your to-do list adds to your motivation and confidence in your willpower. Forbes, an American business magazine, published Sujan Patel’s article “The Science Behind Motivation,” where Patel stated, “This process of getting things done represents the intersection between motivation and willpower; the place where you not only want to take action, but where you have the ability to execute as well.”
By accomplishing short-term goals, you are giving yourself proof that you are progressing. This is your life, your education, and your degree. Sometimes, things fall apart along the way, and it can get hard to manage through it. You cannot control the actions of others, but you can control your own actions. You control how you represent yourself; you can represent the person you want to be, the person that will walk in May with a degree in hand. However, negative emotions need to be recognized.
“Self-care” is a trending phrase on social media, with around 13.4 million posts on Instagram alone. The main idea of self-care is taking time for ourselves and doing things that are not only making us happy, but doing activities that expel the negative clutter in our minds. Whether that means going on a hike, taking a bath, voluntarily reading, hanging out with loved ones, hanging out with ourselves, or maybe looking at Google Images of rabbits. At the end of the day, you matter. You are worthy. You can do this. Sometimes, you just need to step away from everything to remember that.
When the road to long-term goals gets cluttered with stress, doubt, fear, anxiety, and more, we forget the reason behind all our efforts. According to ReachOut — an online Australian mental health organization — positive motivation focuses on the positive outcomes of our actions (like when sharing maybe two academically inspired ideas gets us participation points for the day). Negative motivation “focuses on the negative backlash” of our actions.
We must be able to feed ourselves confidence to keep our motivation up. We should take the wins of the day, step back when we need to breathe, and always try to find ourselves and remember the reason we are here.
Lastly, we must accept that sometimes we feel broken. We must be able to accept that we are not always in control, and we make mistakes. It is okay to cry, and it is okay to break. We should be able to talk to someone who is emotionally prepared to hear what is on our mind, to make an appointment with the Wellness Center, and let ourselves recognize when we are hurting, — recognize those doubts and fears. Trying to hide or run away from negative emotions does not support motivation. It all comes back to self-care, and accepting the fractures in our willpower; only by accepting that we feel pain will it start to go away.
Just never forget: you matter, you are worthy, and you can do this.