The bright blob is creeping from the cracks of the window shades and it hits you straight in the eyes. You roll over to the other side just to wake up to the oh-so-annoying alarm. Swipe it off and cuddle under the blanket to sigh until the snooze. What’s the point of getting up?
It is not only students who feel like losing their motivation from time to time. It happens to all of us, whether already in working-life or on a summer holiday or retired. No matter if it’s sunny, grey, winter or summer. It just hits us humans like a flower that blooms at the same spot every spring even after the coldest of winter.
What to do then when everything seems pointless?
The most common answer is maybe: “nothing”. Because that is how unmotivated thoughts make you feel.
However, there is one thing you can try to start from: live in the moment. Stress is something that can kill motivation so easily so aim to keep your mind in the present: don’t dwell in the past or live in woulds or coulds of the future either.
Find your inner motivation – not the outer. So many people live their whole life chasing objects when the best things in life are often not measured in material or titles. Surely you have felt passionately about something – think if you would have that feeling about your studies and life all the time? Have you ever loved someone? That sensation does not require any material; it is a pure feeling that makes your whole body feel good.
Solid rewards are not always motivating in longer term. “If you do this, you get that”- thinking is actually pushing you to a cycle where you operate towards something that does not come from your own willingness. Do you want to achieve something for your own growth or for external happiness, such as a high-paying job?
Of course it is good to reward yourself with also small material good every once in a while. Having a nice cup of coffee or a special treat waiting for you in the end of day makes it that much better, just don’t make it a habit.
Make a change to be motivated
Cut out stressful things from your life and find your passion (but don’t seek it). Take a break from the social media. Many of the stressing aspects such as envy are flourishing there. It is a place for highlighting the good parts of one’s life and might make you feel like you are not experiencing anything but drawbacks and boring everyday stuff. It is hard to think positively if what you see all the time makes you feel like you are not accomplishing anything.
Positive thinking makes positive outcomes and realising your passion makes your inner motivation flourish! Take a look at this video to get a new perspective to passion:
Find a hobby to balance your life
This relates to sorting out your passion. Do you have something you’ve always been interested in? What about enrolling to a knitting course or buying that new bike you have been dreaming of for a long time? Maybe start doing yoga or meditate? Run, go for long walks. Getting your heart rate up is something that lowers the stress levels and clarifies your thoughts, same as getting really into something that you love doing. You don’t need to even do it for long, just 20 minutes a day is enough to de-stress your body. When your mindset is clear, everything else seems easier. Read other tips to combat stress from here.
Take a break
In today’s society you might feel pushed to achieve everything at an early age and as soon as possible. Being impatient is not helping you to be motivated – it is another cause of anxiety and stress. Do not feel bad about taking a break – not only small breaks every day but even a longer one if you feel like your life is stuck. Ignore people saying “You need to do this now and sort out your life”. Take your own time and you will not have regrets later. One-month retreat in India sound good to you? Go for it. You can always return, but regretting for not taking the chances is the worst feeling. Or does it feel hard to get one hour of studying done? Try having a 20 minute break every half an hour, before you even notice it, you’ve made already two hours!
Organise things (i.e. make lists)
It has never hurt anyone to be organized, quite the opposite. Writing a journal might help you get your feelings together when you are having a hard time or if writing is not something you do, record a diary. Next day, read or listen to it and think how you feel about it compared to the current moment. If you always seem to feel the same blues, you need a change. But if your feelings seem to be like a rollercoaster: one day your high up, one day down – you need to identify the things that are making the downward rides and eating your motivation. People grow and habits change. Maybe consider if the way you have always studied has just turned out to be less suitable for you within years.
Scheduling your work and free time gives you some kind of control over your life that can seem like a mess. If you think your work does not progress, record it. Make a list of all the things you have accomplished and learned. Try to list 3 positive things from your life that you are grateful for, every day. When you do it for a few weeks, you start to realise how many things are amazing in your life.
And then, just remember to try your best and smile. It is contagious and even if you need to make an effort for it in the beginning, it helps!
Written by Suvi Loponen