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Online Learning Myths Busted: Myth #3 MOTIVATION

by Yvette Maurice

Thinking of doing something inspiring? Are you ready to make a change, start a new career, learn something new or change a habit? To do anything in life, you have to be motivated. Motivation turns an idea into an action.

Perhaps you’re thinking of changing careers or studying?

There are times we feel inspired, productive and effective – and then there are those days we need to find extra motivation to get ahead. When you decide to study or change careers as an adult, it’s so important to think about the decision wisely, including how you will structure study and learning into your life, or get the new skills you’ll need to change careers.

At Open Colleges, our trainers and assessors and course coordinators are experts in their fields. We spoke to them to identify their top tips for motivating yourself to achieve.

Motivate your MIND

…with Nettie Sumner – course coordinator, Faculty of Business, Management and Services


Create an environment that suits your personality and your learning style

I like working with music in the background.  I tend to stay away from any tracks that have a strong or “fast” beats.  I am very aware of lighting and I try to create a soft ambient light and avoid sharp-focus lighting.

Use whatever accessories you can to help you learn

I love beautiful stationery and so even if I am working on a computer based task I love using coloured pencils, paper and notepads to help me to gather my thoughts and make notes. I am a very visual person and so I tend to make quick sketches or diagrams of the task I am tackling.

Promise yourself a reward and give yourself recognition

I envisage the reward I will claim if I complete a task effectively and efficiently – usually a cup of tea. I set my self a time limit before I can claim my reward, i.e. task one or after an hour. I use the word “time limit’ because it gives me control of my time.  The word “deadline” creates an illusion of time constraints being placed on me and so I avoid this.

Understand what you are trying to achieve before you start

Initially, I only skim-read instructions to get an idea of the “big picture” and then I break the task into small achievable steps, approaching just one step at a time.

Stay calm, breathe and reassure yourself that you can succeed

I try not to move from one task straight into another.  I try to take a break for a minute and breathe deeply.  If I hit a stumbling block I have an affirmation that I repeat out loud and then approach the task with renewed confidence and belief in my own abilities. Finally – I always ask for help if I need it.

Know why you are on this path

I am lucky enough to have a supportive family and I always share my goals with them – this helps me to articulate why I am doing something and what I want to achieve from it.  If I get distracted or veer from this path, my family is always there to help me get back on track.  Friends and colleagues are also a great source of support.

Motivate your BODY

…with Cheree Quon – work placement support officer, Faculty of Health and Wellness


Plan your day

I spend at least 10 minutes in the morning sitting quietly and planning my day. I first spend five minutes focusing on my breathing – nothing else. The focus is on how I control my breath flow, and the quality of breathing, slowing the breath down, deep breathing into the belly, slowly on the exhaling and releasing any tightness that I might be experiencing. This really helps to relax my body for the day. I then spend the next 5 minutes visualising how I would like my day to flow.

Then I shower and head off to the gym. I choose to exercise first thing in the morning as this is when my energy levels are highest, and so it is also done for day. Those excuses of not making it to the gym can’t then begin to creep in throughout the rest of my day.

There are many studies that show  people who exercise regularly benefit with a positive boost in mood that can reduce stress (the stress that usually comes along with a heavy study load + work + family commitments + social activities). Exercise will also increase your energy levels and reduce fatigue and tiredness.

Eat well

This is a big one, especially when it comes to studying. Your brain uses glucose as energy. Carbohydrates are the best food source that your body uses to convert to glucose for brain energy. This doesn’t mean eating sugary, processed carbohydrates, such as muesli bars or chocolate as they lack valuable nutrients and can actually make you tired and lose concentration.

It does mean eating healthy whole, unprocessed forms of complex carbohydrates. You can find these in fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, brown rice and quinoa. These foods will assist to keep your blood sugar levels regulated for concentration, and will also offer generous amounts of other nutrients such as magnesium, potassium and selenium which will assist your body to recover from your gym sessions.

Omega 3 is good for your brain

A very important nutrient to include whilst studying are the omegas! Omegas are found in oily fish, nuts and seeds. Omegas are highly beneficial as the consumption of omega 3 fatty acids found in fish and other sources provides structural material to maintain neurons. Neurons help you to think, learn, move and experience your world. Studies also suggest omega 3 fatty acids are essential for the transmission of information between brain cells.

Stay hydrated

Ideally you should attempt to drink a minimum of eight glasses of water every day. If you are currently exercising, aim to drink at least 1.5-2 litres of water every day.

I find that during my early morning training sessions, I drink my first 1.5 litres whilst at the gym.  Then I refill my bottle and continue to drink the other 1.5 litres of water throughout the rest of the day.

Sometimes I add freshly squeezed lemon juice to alkalise the water, and I always ensure that I drink my water as it helps to keep me alert and concentrating well, and also keeps my energy levels up. Keep dehydration in mind as it can make you feel tired and affect your concentration.

Sleep, sleep, sleep!

This is one of the most important tips of all! Especially when studying. It is very important to get at least seven or eight hours of sleep at least five nights of the week.

If I’m not sleeping well or do not get enough hours in, it then leaves me tired and not able to put all of my efforts into my work. I always make sure that I am getting enough sleep to ensure I can perform at my best for exercise and for studying.

Motivate your SPIRIT

…with Robert Bikesic – course coordinator in Fitness


Take some time out if you can’t concentrate

If I am stuck and can’t concentrate, I move away and give myself some time out. Go for a walk, exercise, or do something to get my mind off the task. This helps me in refocusing later on.

Don’t try to motivate yourself when you’re very tired

I never work on a task when I am tired. Getting enough sleep helps me focus on a task. Trying to study or work whilst tired usually prolongs the length of time it takes to complete a task and can get frustrating.

Plan for success

Plan your goals, where you want to be and what you need to do in order to achieve them. To reach a fitness goal you must follow a strict plan of exercise split into sessions throughout the week. Plan your study the same way, give yourself times and days during the week that you leave for your study only.

Set small, achievable goals

Make sure when creating your goals that they are achievable. Often we give ourselves unrealistic objectives which can be demotivating, such as reading a whole chapter of a text book within an evening. Plan your study so that you portion activities into smaller tasks that are more achievable such as a certain amount of pages or topics instead.

Concentrate on all your passions

Make sure to have a hobby, something that works for you and helps you zone out and de-stress. Some people may like cars others may prefer cooking; make sure that when you are doing the activity it allows you to switch off from day to day stresses.

Feeling more motivated now?

Whether you use the time to learn a new skill, try a new activity, focus on your health, experiment with a new project or research options for study – you need to be motivated! Need some career advice or some guidance on the Open Colleges courses available? Call 1300 409 227

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