Motivation changes over time and varies by focus area and situation.  Some students come to the conclusion that they are lazy because they do not do what they need to in order to move towards their goals, or they conclude that they are dumb because the same amount of study time that they invested in high school no longer yields the same results.  Both of these conclusions are usually faulty and can lead to a cycle of guilt depression, self deprecating self talk and avoidance of course material they most need to address.  Here are some tools for finding, building or sustaining motivation.

  • Finding motivation
    • Finding something that you enjoy or are passionate about is a major factor in assisting you in finding the motivation to do the hard work required and it can seem like less work if it is in an area you enjoy.
    • Set the stage for ownership of your own path.  Address the golden handcuffs of parental support.   One of the challenges that students of affluent families have to deal with is when and how to become independent of parental financial resources.  Although this may be a curse that many would wish for it does however present its own challenges to motivation and the satisfaction of independence from well intentioned parents. See
  • We can set the stage for motivation – Some times motivation is higher in one area or place than another.  For instance a person may find it much harder to stay motivated to study in their living room where their friends are playing Xbox than they would if they were at the library where they only had to decide between physics or English to study.  Set yourself up for success by being where you are most likely to study.  Many students have the good intention of studying at home but never get to the studying because they have to walk past the TV, Xbox, friends or other less obvious distractions like dirty dishes or laundry that needs to be done.  The reality is that most people such as those on diets do much better at disciplining themselves if they distance themselves from temptation or their distractions.

    • We may be using the wrong measurement of effort to determine what it takes to be successful .  For instance for students that have done well in high school but did not have to work for it very much they may feel like they are studying an adequate amount of time by studying twice as much as they did in high school.  For example if I go from three hours a week to six this may seem like I have really upped my game.  What students don’t realize though is that if I am taking 15 credits in a semester I am now going to class 15 hours a week plus 6 hours of study is only 21 hours of learning in a week.  In high school most students went to school from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM and had a half hour lunch.  This means they spent 32.5 hours at school and then if they studied three hours a week they were spending 35.5 hours a week learning compared to 21 now.  Most college classes cover 2-3 times as much material in a semester  as High School classes.  Most students  do just fine in college if they put at least as much time into it as they did in high school.  This is largely accomplished by having routine like you did in high school (i.e.  When you are not in class between 8-4 you should be studying).  Many students are not overwhelmed by how hard their classes are but by learning how to structure all of the time that LOOKS like it is free time.  Once students work on putting in the required time many of their other difficulties fade away.  
  • Learn the tricks to tapping into the psychology of motivation like good athletes do.

    1. Expert advice on motivating yourself for unpleasant tasks.
    2. An electronic workbook to develop your motivation
    3. Overcoming laziness
    4. Avoid procrastination
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