College can be quite hard sometimes. It is a part of the experience. For many students, it is the first time they move out to live alone and handle all the adult responsibilities. There is a college curriculum, social life, financial management, and often part-time employment. Luckily, there are ways to boost your motivation and focus, even if it seems difficult.
It can be challenging to withstand constant stress and keep motivation high, especially if you always deal with a pile of assignments. Internal motivation is a significant factor in academic success as it is what keeps one growing and getting better. But if you lose motivation due to burnout, stress, or anxiety, it becomes much harder to keep going.
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- Internal motivation is important in education because
- Highly-motivated students are more likely to succeed in all areas;
- It allows one to enjoy more their studies and college activities;
- It helps to focus on bigger goals;
- It boosts attention even for long study sessions;
- Motivation increases persistence, cognitive performance, and overall well-being.
So how can you boost your motivation when you feel down and overwhelmed with college? Here are some tips on achieving that.
It is always easier to go somewhere when you know where you are heading. This is one of the major psychological principles of staying interested in what you are doing.
If you feel lost and confused, create a list of long-term and short-term goals. Why are you in college? Maybe you want to prepare for the career of your dreams, achieve financial stability, or continue your path in academia further. This end goal is a large purpose behind all these efforts.
But it can also be derived into small goals like finishing this semester with good grades or getting accepted for an internship.
The trick to proper goal-setting is to use the SMART technique. It means that all your goals should be:
This transforms any purpose into an actionable plan on how to get there. Write down your goals and place them somewhere you can see them. Think about how good it will feel when you achieve them to boost inspiration and internal resources.
When you are done with your list of goals, create a set of tasks for each of them. This separates a big project into small and manageable chunks.
For example, if you want to get into an internship program, you can break it down into such tasks:
- Learn about available programs;
- Find out the requirements and deadlines for application;
- Follow the specific courses to match the requirements;
- Get recommendation letters;
- Prepare a well-crafted resume;
Use this principle for every goal and do one task at a time.
Working harder doesn’t mean working longer hours. Often the case, it is a matter of efficiency. If you feel like you tend to procrastinate a lot or struggle with deadlines, it is time to revise your study process.
Start by timing your activities and seeing what takes you the longest. Think of distractions that reduce your focus and how to reduce them. Find the most effective techniques for you. For example, some prefer to study with music, others like complete silence.
Also, use applications that simplify studying, like grammar-checking tools, scheduling, and note-taking apps.
Motivation can be broken down into three factors – expectations, value, and cost. What do you expect to succeed in, how do you define the importance of this action, and what is it going to take you to do it?
Expectations can be an obstacle if you put too much pressure on yourself. Perfectionism can be quite toxic as no one is perfect. So revise your expectations and think about how they affect you. Do they make you more inspired to do the task? Or do they set unrealistic standards that only frustrate you?
It is important to embrace failures and mistakes. Everyone fails sometimes, and it only matters what you take from it. Any mistake is a learning opportunity. Students do not have to be perfect and meet unrealistic expectations, whether they are coming from others or from within.
Positive reinforcement works like a charm. When you put the effort in, it is quite good to reward yourself. This might mean simply recognizing all the work you’ve done and praising yourself. For example, when you are done revising notes, you can play a favorite game, go for a walk, or eat a snack.
Positive reinforcement helps boost serotonin and thus gives you more motivation.
It is normal to experience a lack of motivation sometimes. Yet it is essential not to let this feeling become a habit. If you are struggling with college studies, try these techniques to optimize your processes and productivity. Also, do not forget to get enough rest and sleep.