Get Motivated in School
Wouldn’t it be great to wake up every morning motivated for school? You wouldn’t have to procrastinate, drift off in class, or waste your energy trying to get yourself to study.
But you’re too tired, you’re too busy…I get it. I’m a senior in high school; I’ve been through it and still have my ‘unmotivated’ moments. But I’ve learned that motivation is something that comes from within – it’s something you can learn to control and use to your advantage.
Motivation is a state, an emotion if you will. Just like thinking happy thoughts, being grateful, and smiling will trigger the release of chemicals in your bloodstream that make you feel happy, you can learn to do certain things that will increase your motivation in the short and long term.
1) How to motivate yourself in 60 seconds, anytime, anywhere.
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar
Let’s start with a quick exercise:
1) Raise your arms and wave them like the most boring, monotone and slow conductor you can imagine.
How do you feel? Probably a bit bored.
2) Now act like one of the super-intense conductors that are completely into their work. Or put on your favorite pump up song, jump around and dance!
How do you feel now? Probably energized and happy.
That’s the power of physiology. By changing your body language, you also change your emotional state.
My 60-second motivation routine:
I sit down and think about what would happen if I don’t do my work (extrinsic motivation). For example, if I don’t do this essay right now; I’m going to have too much work to do tomorrow. I won’t be able to do as well on it because it will be rushed. That will stress me out, putting me in a bad mood that will impact the quality of all my other assignments. Not only will I get lower grades on these assignments, but I will also have less time to study for that test I have the day after.
I then think about how if I do this assignment right now, it’ll help me get closer to my long-term goals, my ‘why’ (intrinsic motivation). I also picture how good I’ll feel after I’m done with the assignment.
Finally I put away all possible distractions (turn off my phone, internet, etc.), put on a pump up song or study music, and a timer for 30-60 minutes. I give myself a 5-minute break when the timer goes off, and then go back to work for 30-60 minutes.
2) Find your ‘why’
“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”– Friedrich Nietzsche
There are essentially two types of motivation, known as intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation comes from inside – it’s something you do because you love doing it. For example, I play rugby because I love playing rugby. I don’t need anyone to force me to go to rugby practice. Extrinsic motivation is external motivation. I don’t particularly like doing the dishes, but I do them anyway because I know that if I don’t I’ll get punished.
What differentiates people who stay motivated from those who don’t is how they view why they are doing the work. The strongest motivation comes from within. If you want to get motivated you first need to find out WHY you’re doing something. If you’re trying to get good grades to please someone else (your parents, your teachers or classmates), chances are you’ll give up when things get hard because your ‘why’ is quite weak. But if you want to become a doctor so you can help save lives and you need good grades to get into a top medical school, then your ‘why’ is particularly strong. When things get hard you can just picture yourself saving people’s lives as a doctor and the fulfillment you’d get out of it and draw motivation from that.
But in order to do that, you’re also going to need to…
3) Shift your attitude and take full responsibility of the current situation
“Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility.”–Albert Einstein
I’ve had times this year where I went on rants about how little I was getting from a class, how the teacher was too boring, how I had better things to do, how there was nothing I could do about my grades and how I wanted to give up. I just couldn’t get motivated to keep my grades up.
Over time, I started realizing that I had to do well in school not because my parents told me to, not because my teachers told me to, but because I needed to. School gets hard, but there comes a time when you need to stop whining and shift your attitude.
I’m not going to tell you that good grades will get you into a good college or get you the perfect job. That’s too broad and clichéd. I personally believe that doing well in school isn’t necessary to live a happy, fulfilling, successful life. Look at Henry Ford, Richard Branson, Pablo Picasso, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Madonna, George Clooney…Yes, they dropped out of school, but they didn’t sit around whining all day.
Just because school isn’t required to achieve the life you want, doesn’t mean it won’t help. What I’ve come to realize is that even though school isn’t a perfect system, it’s still a great place to develop skills and tools to help you get to where you want to go.
As an aspiring entrepreneur I used to tell myself that I didn’t need school to be successful. School seemed like a waste of time. As I started building Win at School however, I found myself using many of the skills I had learned in school: sticking to deadlines, the ability to focus for extended periods of time and researching lots of boring information (such as tax laws).
School develops your mind and teaches your brain to open up to new information and new perspectives. Grades are the measure used to track your progress in school. Doing well in school means that you’re learning the skills necessary for success in whatever area in life you choose to pursue.
I define success as being able to do what you want, when you want, with who you want, as often as you want. My routine may or may not work for you. Adapt it to fit your needs: try it, keep what works and discard what doesn’t. Find your why, stop whining, and play around with the routine until you find something that motivates you.
By Thibault Sorret
(email@example.com or on Twitter @ThibaultSorret)