Motivating Yourself to Study

Motivating Yourself to Study

Are you a carrot or stick person? Do you complete tasks because you can recognize the benefit of doing so (like getting positive feedback from teachers, improving your grades), or do you complete tasks because you associate not completing it with a level of pain/ displeasure? (to avoid your teacher “having a go at you” or keep your parents happy). Have you ever noticed that sometimes you don’t even question completing or carrying out a task, you just do it? How would it be if you could carry out every task (especially studying!) in such a manner? How good would that be?

When I spoke to my own group of students I asked them what their goals were and why they thought it was important to study and naturally, all their reasons were either to seek pleasure (getting the grades required for a desired university course) or to avoid pain (getting hassled by their teachers or parents). So now I want you to do the same, think about the reasons why you want to achieve your goal in your exams, write your reasons down and add as many as you can to this list so that it becomes more compelling for you to achieve these goals, and this in itself will then act as an incentive to complete your task. The key here is that you have to make it compelling, you MUST identify the NECESSITY in completing your task so play the Why game with yourself (ask why to each answer you give) like I did with the students the other day (and indeed with any client) to recognize your true feelings about your goal. Why do you think studying is important? Why is going to a good university important? Why is getting a good job important? etc

glasses-272399_1280You’ll find, that like my group of students, you’ll be either be motivated by the need to seek pleasure or the need to avoid pain. Interestingly, for tasks that we’re not too crazy about, we usually complete them because of the need to avoid pain rather than the need to gain pleasure, I mean, I don’t know about you but I do the dishes to avoid having a dirty smelly kitchen and not because of the immense pleasure it actually gives me! In the same breath I know I spend hours reading and marking History essays because it helps my students and makes me feel good about my work instead of trying to keep my students from “nagging” me and my Head of Department on my case too! If you feel that your motivation to complete your goal is flagging, then link more pleasure and less pain to the pursuit of your actual goals and notice the difference. One way of doing this is to think about what motivates you (preferably linking to pleasure!) and recognize how your goal can help you achieve and improve these aspects in your studying or in your daily life in general. Are you motivated by Getting good grades? Money? Positive relationships? Results? Treating yourself? Career ambition? Helping others? Improving Yourself? Proving someone wrong? Making someone proud of you? One thing that I know is that I have no problem working to promote and build my business because I know that by doing this I’m not only providing a future for myself, but I am also helping other people to overcome issues, and for me, this is one of my biggest motivators.

If you’re already feeling motivated by what you’ve read, brilliant! But if you’re still procrastinating, then consider other reasons why you might not be motivated to study a particular subject or topic by asking yourself some of the questions: Are you anxious about completing the task? Do you find it boring? Do you feel you have a lack of skills to complete it adequately? Do you see the benefit in completing the task? Do you doubt your own abilities to complete the task? Use these questions if you are also trying to motivate someone else to study right now to help discover what’s preventing them from doing so. We’re not all motivated by getting good grades or financial gain, so speak to the individual, find out the reasons for procrastination and provide support and encouragement. Remember that while you may not see this person’s reason(s) for avoiding the task as important, if it’s important to them, you must recognize that or you could act to demotivate them even  more.

Whether you are helping yourself or someone else to get motivated, the key is to finding an aspect of the task that relates to your own or the other person’s priority or preference. More carrot and less stick I say! Good Luck!

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About the Author

Linda Bonnar

Linda Bonnar is an Irish qualified secondary school teacher and Life Coach living in Dubai. She has been teaching History in IB and A-Level schools for over 10 years in the Middle East. She is the owner of LindaBonnarLifeCoach.com.