What differentiate a high-achiever for study from an average one? Intelligence? Ability to memorize? Or pure luck? None of them! The single biggest secret to doing well in study is motivation. Motivation is the key to unlock the potential in you. Do you want to know how to stay motivated throughout the semester? Here are 5 quick tips for you.
Have a plan
The easiest way to cultivate motivation is to have a plan first. A plan is like a reminder of things that you have not done for the day. There are many good planner phone apps, such as Any.do or the application that has been preinstalled in your phone.
But as you may know, plan can fail. Having a plan does not mean following the plan. You may spend one hour creating a fantastic plan, but may not follow through half of it. One way can minimize such a problem. Think about what you want to achieve in the following week. Probably you want to finish revision for the last 2 chapters of a module.
Probably you want to go through 4 past year papers before consultation. Once you know your weekly goals, break them down into daily goals. This prevents the problem of setting overly ambitious goals for every day, only to realize that you can only finish half of them, which causes you to be less motivated. Planning on a weekly basis gives you a long-term perspective and also allows you to take it easy for your everyday tasks.
A study on goals was conducted in Harvard Business school MBA program in 1979. The study found that three percent of the graduating cohort who had clear, written goals earned 10 times more than the other 97 percent put together. Such is the power of goals in fanning your motivation. Start setting goals, be it daily, weekly, monthly or yearly ones!
Stay with motivated people
You may not have realized how much your friends’ attitude can influence your attitude. Stay with people who complain about study all the day, you are not likely to have a positive attitude towards study. Hence you need to get some course buddies who at least don’t complain about how difficult the last quiz was or how uninteresting the lecturer has been. Better still, stay with people who are genuinely interested in the subject of their study, so they can spread their positive energy and love to you even without you noticing it. This is termed the chameleon effect where psychologists discovered that obesity, sleep loss, drug use, loneliness, and happiness spread through social networks rapidly.
On a related note, you need to have one more positive friend that is yourself. We talk to ourselves every day no less than we talk to our friends. How we think about study has a lot of impact on our motivation level.
Psychologists have proven that self-talk has a profound impact on our attitude on a daily basis. And it is something that can be faked in the short run. You seriously don’t like this module? Don’t worry. Tell yourself that “I like this module because even it is difficult, it still teaches me useful stuff.” Or “I know I don’t enjoy this module as much, but I’m going to be miserable if I keep complaining.”
Clear a big root problem
One very common reason for lack of motivation to study is that you don’t understand the modules very well. Whenever you attempt the tutorial questions, you always can’t figure out the right answer. You don’t know what the lecturer is doing on the slides and you lose interest (and start to play with your smartphone). You should tackle the root problem now.
The problem occurs most likely when you didn’t pay attention to the first few lectures that served as foundation for subsequent content. Or your prerequisite foundation for this module is not strong so you fall behind right from the start. Don’t worry. One technique is to take a break from your current pace of study and take it as if you are learning the module from scratch again. Take out the textbook or notes and read from chapter 1. If you fall behind in terms of prerequisite, borrow a textbook on the relevant parts and study on it first.
Yes, this may seem slow, but it truly helps you understand the module. Unless your final exam is next week, you always have time for the technique. Recognize the fact that you will fall behind in terms of schedule and also believe in the idea that you will catch up very soon once you have cleared all your previous doubts.
Don’t feel like studying for exams?
How about when the exams are around the corner and you don’t feel like studying? Don’t panic. Sometimes when students are anxious, they want to study even less. What you need to do is to take some good time and create a plan for your exam revision. It is a good idea to have a plan two weeks before the exams start, so you can feel the urgency of study but also have the flexibility of time. Again, don’t be overly ambitious. Your sense of achievement from (almost) finishing a day’s plan is an important reason to keep you motivated for the next day.
It is never a good strategy to study all day. Your mental focus will diminish once you have studied for more than 2-3 hours non-stop. Set up some light exercise routine to refresh your mind. Switch between subjects to study. You can study a quantitative subject in the morning and an essay writing subject in the afternoon. If you are not studying in a group, call on your friends for lunch and have a relaxing chit-chatting before you head back for intensive use of brain.
The most difficult part of creating motivation is at the creation stage. Once you have developed the motivation in you, you will feel the pleasure and reward of study more than its pain. Then it becomes a momentum and finally a habit for you to study hard. Take the first step to becoming a motivated student today!