How to Motivate Yourself

Girl writing

Written by Kristy Brewster

Trying to find motivation is kind of like trying to find buried treasure– it’s a little difficult. Actually, it’s VERY difficult. At least for me, anyway. I’ve always had trouble with motivation—probably because I’m a little lazy by nature. So, if motivation is something you struggle with, too, here’s a little information that I learned from one of my psychology professors at the University of Texas-Austin.

Replace “should” with “could.”
The word “should” saps motivation because it takes away your autonomy. Autonomy is what you have when you hold the ability to make your own decisions. The word “could” maximizes autonomy and, thus, increases motivation. Saying “I could study” instead of “I should study” makes it more likely that you will end up studying because you are making that decision for yourself and for what you believe to be in your best interest. Try to keep “shoulds” for moral imperatives. For example, “I should not kill someone.” Yes, you probably should not do that.

Have goals that are meaningful to you.
Invest yourself in your goals. Let’s say that you still have some studying to do for an upcoming exam. If learning is more important to you than making an A, reframe your goal so that it reflects this. Remind yourself that you are studying because you want to learn as much as you can from your class.

Keep your eyes on the prize.
What’s the prize? Do you want to become a doctor? Do you want to write novels for a living? Remember what you want and always keep it in the back of your mind. This will help get you through the most mundane of tasks.

Think about what YOU want.
Choose your own goals and toss everybody else’s ideas out of the window. You’re not going to be very motivated if you’re working towards someone else’s dream for you. Are you majoring in engineering because that’s what you want or because that’s what your parents want? Remember, no “shoulds.” Instead of thinking I “should” have a more realistic job, ask yourself:What would I do if I “could” do anything?

Have days where you schedule nothing.
Burnout is real. It’s totally okay to have a lazy day every now and then. Whether it’s once a week or once a month, having a day where you have no responsibilities allows you to recharge and go into your next work day with more motivation.

There you go! Hopefully you find these tips helpful—they’ve definitely helped me. See if they work for you and then let me know what you think in the comments. Good luck!

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