If you're reading this, you probably should be learning right now. You have the talent, ambition, and long term-drive to succeed. But your short-term motivation to actually sit down and start studying is nowhere to be found. Here's how to motivate yourself to get off the couch, start learning more, and accomplishing your goals.
Do You Even Need Motivation?
The good news is, you don't always have to be super motivated to be successful. It does make the process more fun, but motivation is not required to succeed. However, the decision to work hard and study regardless of how you feel is what will get you there. Once you understand this, a lack of motivation isn't a valid excuse anymore.
But that's not what you came here for. You came for 10 ways to motivate yourself, and luckily, they do exist. It's more fun to learn with a feeling of motivation, instead of dread — regardless of the result. So how can you make the process easier and more fun? Let's take a look.
Tip: Motivation comes from seeing results. So start doing, and motivation will come looking for you, not the other way around.
1. Acknowledge Your Struggle With Motivation
Ah yes, the first step: acceptance. It can be helpful to write down why you're struggling with motivation. Is it the tools you use? You don't have enough time, or you have too many distractions? Pinpoint what causes you to feel demotivated. It's always more than “simply not feeling like it.”
Keep the result and larger goal in mind. What is it you really want to achieve in the long run? What is stopping you from reaching that in the short term, and are those things worth jeopardizing your success?
2. Figure Out Your Learning Style
Learn from how you've learned. What have been great learning experiences for you? Which topics and skills do you really master, and how have you learned them? Finding the factors in these learning processes and translating them to new challenges can be the key to unlocking unlimited motivation.
Maybe your best learning experiences happened because of how you divided your time. Maybe it was interaction, speaking about the topic. What tools do you use regularly and love that could be helpful here? Try to make learning an interesting experience instead of a dull task.
Isn't figuring that out just another way of procrastination? Don't worry, it's not. It pays off to sit down and take the time to understand your style, because it will benefit your learning in the long run. The same goes for finding what doesn't work for you. Research different learning techniques until you find one that works for you. You'll be a life-long happy learner.
Talking about what you learn and what you struggle with helps you become a better learner.
3. Communicate To Others What You Intend To Do and What You Struggle With
Telling others about your plans and goals works wonders. Talking about learning and your struggles helps you engage with the process and allows you to identify what's really important — this is called externalizations.
Externalization helps you commit to your goals. When you speak about them to others, your goals become real and you become accountable to achieve them. Even though you should chase your goals for yourself, you also don't want to be the one who talks big but doesn't deliver.
Talking about your difficulties can also feel very relieving, whether your friends give you advice or not. Acknowledging you struggle with motivation to friends, family, and peers will also send them a message: Help me if you can, and if not, at least don't distract me. It's hard enough without a stream of funny tweets coming your way.
4. Look at it Another Way
Can't wrap your head around something and want to get your nose out of the books? If you're getting frustrated or stuck while studying, try approaching the subject in a different way.
Find a podcast or YouTube video on a related topic. Something interactive, to shake things up. If you are working in a group, create a quiz together to test your progress. In comes another benefit: the Testing Effect. It's proven that quizzing yourself enhances long-term retention more than spending an equivalent amount of time repeatedly studying.
Read books or interviews from people who have mastered what you're trying to learn. Talk to someone else about what you're learning. Switching it up with different media and tools can boost your curiosity and help you put what you already know in perspective.
Get out of the books and try to find other media that will help you learn.
5. Use a Time-Limited Approach
Staring at a page is not necessarily practicing a skill. And abstract terms like “studying” or “learning” can make learning seem like a daunting task. When does it stop? When is it enough? Good time management will help you make sense of this.
Instead of asking yourself “Will I ever learn and understand everything?” ask yourself “How much can I learn in the next 1.5 hours?” You'll be less overwhelmed when you divide not only your tasks but also your time. You will pin the pieces together eventually without having wasted time on useless repetition.
6. Focus on the Task at Hand
Even though some people name multitasking as one as their talents, it's not always the most efficient approach. If you struggle with motivation, it might feel like you aren't always able to do enough. But just starting with one thing is better than sitting around waiting for motivation.
Pick one task, set a time limit, and, for that timeframe, only focus on that. Prioritizing will give you clarity and, again, make you feel less overwhelmed. And finish what you start. Leaving a half-finished task or topic for the next day will only make you anxious.
7. Take Action…
As we said, you don't actually have to be motivated to get started. You just need to start. Motivation is not required, but commitment is. Let the motivation catch up with you. Often, you'll feel that accomplishing things is what makes you more motivated.
Yes, we know you're reading this because you can't find the will to take action. But by reading this article, in a way, you already took action. And action is key to motivation.
Thinking about doing things is one of the most demotivating things one can do. Avoiding work can make you feel deflated. And that is way more draining than having to sit down and dedicate yourself to learning.
8. … And Take a Break
Plan your breaks so you have something to look forward to, and know there will be a time when you can endlessly scroll and binge watch shows again. It is also important just to rest, regroup, and reflect. And have fun with other things — exercise and fresh air will give your brain much-needed help.
9. Don't Look at Others
For inspiration, sure. But don't compare your process or results to those of someone else. This is very demotivating. The only person you should compare yourself to is yourself. Just try a little harder every time you sit down to study. Be kind to yourself.
10. Focus on the Outcome
And make this as concrete as possible. Write down what you want to achieve, and read it every day. Visualize it in a mood board. Whenever the lack of motivation kicks in, take another look at why you are actually doing this. And then do it.
You're Not Alone
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