Discovering your inner drive and channeling it toward your studies

Many college students struggle to stay motivated. Sometimes, just getting out of bed can seem too much to handle. In high school, parents and teachers were around to keep you on track. At work, there is always a boss monitoring your production. In college, though, there are few external motivators and seemingly countless distractions. To be successful, you have to maintain a consistently high level of energy and engagement. This is no easy task.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

There are two basic types of motivation. Intrinsic motivation comes from within. It includes all of your values and goals. It’s the inner drive to learn and to realize your full potential. Extrinsic motivation comes from outside sources. It’s the goals and values that others project onto you. It’s your desire to succeed in order to receive a reward (like a good job) or to avoid a punishment (like unemployment).

Extrinsic motivation is often lacking in a college environment, with parents out of the picture and friends more interested in partying than in school. Graduation and the pressure of getting a good job can seem distant and unimportant (in college, four years is an eternity). Ultimately, your intrinsic motivation is what will determine your success in college. Set realistic goals that you genuinely want to achieve. If you don’t have a genuine desire to succeed academically, then you may find that your college experience is a short one.

Motivation Killers

The following factors can all have a negative effect on your level of motivation:

Some of these factors, like depression and issues relating to confidence, may require you to get professional help in order to overcome them. Others, such as poor sleep patterns and friends who are a bad influence, can be fixed simply by changing your lifestyle.

Motivation Builders

Here are three easy things you can do to keep your level of motivation up:

  • Hit the ground running. Keep up with your schoolwork from day one. The farther behind you fall, the harder it will be to catch up.
  • Ask for help. If you don’t understand something, don’t just put it aside and try to forget about it - get help.
  • Think positively. If you tell yourself that you shouldn’t bother doing something because you’ll only end up failing at it, chances are you’ll start to believe that. Have some faith in yourself and you’ll probably be surprised at what you can achieve.
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