How you can find, keep self-motivation

Students can follow these 5 tips to stay motivated this semester. It is important for students to stay motivated even as it gets tougher. Graphic by Bailey Chamberlain.

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You have an essay due at midnight that you’re only halfway finished with. You haven’t even started your other assignments for the week and the thought of even glancing at your textbooks makes you cringe. On top of that, Zoom fatigue is weighing on you and you really don’t want to attend your classes tomorrow.

Sound familiar?

Midterms are here and the desire to toss all things academic aside is at an all-time high while self-motivation is at an all-time low. Kicking back and streaming your favorite TV series or playing the newest video game sounds so much more appealing than writing a paper or studying for exams.

However, the “I’ll do it later” mindset is an avoidable trap. There are plenty of ways students can get self-motivated to make it through the semester, including these valuable pieces of advice from students and peer coaches:

Meet with your adviser

Everyone dreads having to take time out of their day for yet another meeting, but taking initiative and setting up meetings with advisers, professors and peer coaches is an easy and effective way to hold yourself accountable with the assistance of another person. They’re here to ensure student success, so never hesitate to reach out to them if you’re feeling overwhelmed or demotivated.

Joseph Carlisle, a freshman criminal justice major from Salt Lake City, said he struggles with procrastination, but meeting with his adviser helps him avoid putting off assignments.

Carlisle said: “Knowing that I have to meet with her in a month makes me stay on top of things. I don’t want to go into a meeting with her and explain why I’m failing a class or why I missed an exam, so that usually keeps me motivated.”

Participate in class

Remember being in high school and silently hoping the teacher wouldn’t call on you to answer questions in class? That sentiment may have trailed into your college courses as well, but there are great benefits to getting out of your comfort zone and actively engaging.

This self-motivation strategy has multiple benefits:

  1. Participating in class means you’re more engaged with the material being taught, and in turn, more likely to remember the lessons.
  2. There’s a higher chance of your professors noticing your contributions to the discussions, which can assist in establishing good rapport.
  3. Speaking up in class can function as practice for future jobs and presentations. Dixie State University even offers a public speaking course you can take to develop your skills and confidence.

Visualize where you want to be

Imagine you’re sitting outside in a grassy meadow. It’s warm, sunny and you’re done with all your homework. It’s much nicer than the scene presented at the beginning of this article, right?

Visualization is an easy technique for personal success and self-motivation.

Elyse Luke, a junior nursing major from Provo, said, “To stay motivated, I remind myself of my goals and where I want to be in life and visualize that I can do it.”

Picturing yourself achieving your goals solidifies your path in your mind and reinforces your belief in your ability to succeed. You know what they say: if you can see it, you can be it.

Here are a few tips for how to use visualization:

  • Find a quiet space where you won’t be bothered by outside distractions.
  • Decide what exactly you want to accomplish.
  • Picture yourself doing it. What are you wearing? What room are you in? How do you feel?
  • Do this at least once a week for maximum effectiveness.

Know how to rest without giving up entirely

The urge to drop out when faced with a mountain of work that feels insurmountable is something most students have experienced, and if you’re feeling burnt out, you’re not alone.

An article from The Post states, “The National College Health Assessment of 2019 showed, ‘Over 80 percent of college students reported feeling overwhelmed by all the things they have to do, and almost 40 percent felt so depressed that it was difficult to function.’”

Keep in mind that these were the statistics before COVID-19. One study even cites 71% of  college students reporting increased stress and anxiety levels after the pandemic began.

That being said, it’s more crucial than ever to remember to give yourself a pause when you need it.

Alijah Caskinette, a peer coach and sophomore history and social science composite teaching major from Magna, said if you feel yourself starting to panic about school, take a deep breath and step away for a minute, but do not quit altogether.

“There’s a huge difference between taking a break from work and quitting,” Caskinette said. “You have so much opportunity to grow, but you also have so much opportunity to fail, and it’s important to keep things in perspective.”

Dropping out would stunt your progress, and even if you do end up failing a test or missing a deadline, it’s not the end of the world — and it doesn’t have to be the end of your academic career, either.

Remember your “why”

In times of stress, especially when the world seems chaotic, it’s important to stay grounded and reflect on why you’re a student in the first place. Why did you enroll in college? How will higher education help you achieve your future goals?

Caskinette said students may have a rough time adjusting to college life after living at home because they have to become more of their own support system.

Caskinette said: “If you’re only at college because your parents want you to be here, that’s not really self-motivation. When you’re motivated from yourself, anything that’s an intrinsic factor is always going to be more reliable than an extrinsic factor.”

Any time you’re depending on something that’s not self-regulated, there’s always the risk of that falling through, so having the buffer of your own genuine interest in what you’re studying is vital.

“Self-motivation is healthy and reliable, and it helps you develop your own sense of self-worth and self-appreciation,” Caskinette said.