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21 ways to motivate yourself

by Yvette Maurice

How to motivate yourself to study

You’ve got an idea. You’re excited about it and the first few weeks go effortlessly. At the beginning, you feel as if you are in a flurry of activity: you organise things efficiently, you make phone calls and send emails, you start to get things moving.

Then you hit a wall.


It’s not uncommon for us to be really excited about something when we first embark upon it, it’s when we are a few weeks or months in that the real work begins. If you feel that you have become stuck in a rut with an idea, then there are ways to motivate yourself to achieve your plans and goals.

Getting stuck is nothing to be ashamed of – it happens to us all. The trick is learning how to motivate yourself when you’ve lost some of that golden enthusiasm you had when you first decided to study, take on a new project or job, or start that business.

1. Visualise your long term goals
Often when we set out to do something significant, the task seems unsurmountable. Make sure you have a clear vision of where you want to get to. Be specific. For example, if you are keen on studying accounting or beauty therapy, find a specific course that you want to do.

2. Focus on short term achievements too
A short term goal might be to simply spend a few hours researching what you want to achieve. Once you spend some quality time investing in your idea, whether it’s a business goal or study plan, you’ll feel a lot closer to the outcome.

3. Compete with yourself
A bit of healthy competition can be advantageous when the only competitor is yourself. Try to do just a little more today than you did yesterday and watch the rewards come in.

4. Compete with your peers
You might want to compete with others too, but in a positive way, that is! Motivate yourself by finding out what others are achieving in your industry or sector and see if you can match or better them.

5. Give yourself rewards
Rewards help to keep us motivated, so long as they are healthy rewards. Buy yourself a little treat when you finish that big study session or work task or reward yourself with a long afternoon walk to the ice cream shop once you’ve done your allocated study.

6. Get a theme song!
Rocky had one and so should you! Make yourself a study or work playlist and use it to motivate yourself when times are tough.

7. Have a realistic goal
Want to rule the world, have your own international show like Oprah, or design clothes for the future Queen of England? Start small. Many people get stuck because their goals are unrealistic. You can achieve anything you set your mind to, but work in small steps.

8. Break your goals into small tasks
Think of the things you need to sort out and break the tasks into small groups. If you have lots of banking or IT issues to sort out, place those tasks in a different pile to your schedule-planning and phone calls. Study or work on one thing in the morning, another in the afternoon.

9. Get off the seat of your pants
Take frequent breaks from sitting down every single hour. Stand up, stretch and move your legs around. Even taking just one minute every hour can make a huge difference to your motivation levels.

10. Do some exercise
Factoring time to get out and about is vital to keeping you moving towards your goals. It’s preferable to get some fresh air and exercise outside, but doing a quick session at your local gym or a yoga or dance class can be just as valuable. Not your thing? Take the kids to the park and push them on the swing. It counts as cardio!

11. Make a vision board
One way to motivate yourself towards your goals is to make a vision board. Collect images that represent how you feel about your aspirations. Stick your vision board somewhere prominent and look at it every day. Add things to it and remove things from it as you achieve and grow.

12. Allot appropriate time to tasks
One of the biggest traps you can fall into is not giving yourself enough time to complete tasks. Don’t think you can sort out a complicated administration issue with one phone call and don’t aim to read a whole book or study guide in a single afternoon. Be realistic.

13. Don’t get distracted
There is so much competition for our attention these days. Learn to train your mind to focus on one thing, wholeheartedly, at a time. Even if you just give yourself 15 uninterrupted minutes with a task, you will see the difference.

14. Turn off social media
Put your smartphone in the next room, on silent. Let your message service take any non-urgent calls. Your social media networking could have a place in your study or business planning, but don’t get distracted by meaningless chatter. Keep your mind on the job.

15. Find some ‘you’ time
It’s essential to spend quality time with yourself. Often we are so busy with friends, colleagues, family and kids that we forget to spend a few minutes of quality time on our own. Try to make some space for yourself each week. Even if it’s only half an hour! Do something you enjoy. Nurture yourself.

16. Keep hydrated
Without drinking lots of water, your brain will start to feel tired and lethargic. Take many small sips throughout your study period to remain fresh and alert but don’t go overboard or you’ll be making frequent trips to the bathroom!

17. Study, plan or work with a friend
When we spend some time working with another person it can help to keep us motivated as we bounce ideas off the other person and hear their point of view. Make sure that you factor in some solo work time as well but remember that collaboration often leads to great results. Work with someone you trust.

18. Chunk things down
Great workers often look at a piece of information and are able to extract the bits they need the most. Do you really need to read the whole report, or could your time be better spent reading three competitor reports by simply scanning the headlines and extracting the important parts? This practice is called chunking, and it’s a technique used by many to get ahead.

19. Have a great mindset
A positive attitude can go a long way! Tell yourself that you will achieve your goals and focus on the good things you have already done. There have been studies that indicate that pessimists often have a more realistic view of an outcome, but optimists get more done.

20. Find a mentor
A good way to motivate yourself is to connect with someone you admire, or who is doing something that you one day hope to do. Here is an article on how to make connections in both your local area and by connecting with mentors online.

21. Have fun!
One way to remain motivated is to consistently have fun. Taking things too seriously can be a downer and life is too short to always achieve, achieve, achieve. We all feel lazy and unmotivated sometimes. Often if you are really stuck in a period of feeling unmotivated, you may need to take a proper break.

Don’t feel bad – you are only human!

If you’re looking for ideas on where to get started, Open Colleges has over 100 courses for you to choose from. Search through everything from marketing, childcare, event management and graphic design here.

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