Motivation has always been a hot topic in the field of education, with many teachers trying to develop methods to keep students interested in their respective topics. That being said, the difficult task of staying academically motivated is only exacerbated when students are stuck at home.
For many parents, this issue is simply resolved with reward systems; If students work hard, they get rewarded in some way. While there is some merit to this method, it is simply not sustainable as eventually, the student’s work ethic becomes dependent on receiving these external rewards. Instead, getting through this difficult academic time is going to take a mixture of short term and long term self-motivation methods.
Short Term Self-Motivation:
Do the work now
Short-term motivation refers to the willingness to sit down and do some form of necessary work in the short-term such as homework, studying…etc. A few techniques that help with this include:
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Action First, Motivate Later
Many of us often have this need to “feel” productive before starting any work. This is because it is often a bigger psychological hurdle to get us to start a project than it is to finish it. A common method I like to use is to convince yourself to start working for 5-10 minutes only and see how you feel afterward. More often than not, once students actually get going, they build up momentum and see their work to completion.
Look forward to it
Try to promote a sense of curiosity about the subject. If it is a subject you are uninterested in, try finding connections with something you’re interested in and work from there. Alternatively, find ways to make the work enjoyable to you. If you can find a way to look forward to sitting down and doing the work, you are on your way to mastering self-motivation.
Break it down
Big overarching goals can be scary and overwhelming. Even if we find a way to get started, our motivation can diminish over long periods of sustained effort. We are more likely to get more done if we break down large objectives into smaller, more achievable tasks. Make sure to break down a big project or test into its base components and focus on getting those individual tasks done.
Long Term Self-Motivation
Achieve long-term goals
Long-term motivation refers to managing and sustaining a long-standing determination to work towards a future goal (ex: sustained academic work during a pandemic). Two major points on this include:
In my experience, around 80% of the lack of long-term motivation from students stems from uncertainty or confusion as to WHY they are doing the work. What are their efforts going towards? Helping students find a correlation between their long-term aspirations and their current academic efforts helps set a clear connection and end-goal that students can look towards if they ever find themselves unmotivated or doubting the point of their efforts.
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Celebrate progress, however small
Non-stop stretches of continuous motivation are simply unfeasible without acknowledging small wins and overall progress towards your goal. After completing a milestone (whether it be finishing a difficult test or completing a course) be sure to celebrate. This helps prevent burnout, promote self-care, and increase your incentive to keep working, especially for long processes.
Motivation in general is an integral ingredient for maintaining academic success at school. However, building habits for self-motivation is a learned skill that can prove useful to students even beyond academics.