Staying Motivated

School can feel tedious, particularly when the subjects are not appealing to you.  Obviously school is important, but how can you stay motivated?  There are so many things we would rather do than write an essay for an English class or complete a Math assignment.  But, we have a future to take care of.  There will still be time to watch that show on Netflix or go out to a party with friends AND be focused in school so long as our time is managed correctly and we stay motivated.  Here are a few ideas to keep focused.

First of all it’s critical to remember why you’re in school.  “To get good grades” or “because I have to” are not good enough reasons.  What are your long term goals?  Why do you want to get good grades?  For example, I want to be a teacher.  I love teaching and helping people find their passion.  In order to be able to do that I have to be successful in school and continue to press forward when failure occurs.  Whenever I struggle to feel motivated or fail to have the success I want in school I remember why I am there.  I picture myself in a classroom, working with my future students and that desire helps me to press forward and find hope in school.

Perhaps at this point you don’t know what you want to do for your future career, but you probably at least know whether or not you want to go to college or have a family or at least have a house.  Getting an education and succeeding in school is key to reaching each of those goals.  Whatever your hopes and dreams, keep your future in your mind and work for it.

For some of you, the future may seem too far away to find strong motivation in it.  We live in a world full of instant gratification!  And school is the exact opposite of instant.  We want happiness now, not later.  If long term goals aren’t doing it for you, make short term goals for yourself.  Say you have several homework assignments you need to get done.  Each time you complete an assignment, reward yourself.  Go get a snack, watch a funny YouTube video, send a text message.  As long as you make sure you manage your time and don’t allow your reward to take up more than 10 minutes, it can be a very effective way to keep yourself motivated.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also a great way to stay motivated.  Your physical and mental health are connected.  For example, people who struggle with depression often gain a lot of weight or lose it.  Eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercise helps the mind focus and improves your memory.  That doesn’t mean you need to go on a super strict diet and never eat sugar again, but at least make an effort to choose a less greasy, more wholesome meal at least a few times a week.  Choose a salad over fries or chicken over beef.  These simple decisions can make a world of difference in regards to your energy and motivation levels.

Sleep is the time when our memories are solidified.  It may seem like the best way to prepare for a test is to stay up all night studying, but you’re more likely to remember what you studied if you get to sleep at a decent time.  It will also help to rejuvenate your mind and improve your focus.

As for exercise, be sure to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.  If that seems like a stressful amount of time, break it up into 10 minute sessions between assignments and other daily activities.  Studies show that exercise improves attitudes and cognitive skills and increases focus in the classroom.

Finally, learn to love learning.  There are always going to be subjects you do not particularly enjoy, but recognize that each class is giving you the chance to gain a more clear understanding of the world.  As a classic saying goes, “knowledge is power.”  The more you know, the better off you’ll be in life.  Once you learn to love to learn, school will become much more bearable.

We all know school is important but it’s often hard to stay motivated in the moment.  Remember why you’re there and maintain your lifestyle in a way that sustains learning and comprehension. Eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise and your physical health will feed your mental health.  And, of course, train yourself to love learning.  Keep yourself going, even when you fail, and remember that school won’t last forever, but the skills and knowledge you gain there will prepare you for what life will throw at you.