By Charmaine J. Foster
Motivation is key to any success. But motivation becomes hard to find when you’ve been trudging in darkness for so long. Most people feel this either their third year of college or during the “super-senior” years (those years that surpass the fourth). So what do you do? No matter what anyone tells you, you can’t figure out a way to regain that motivation you had as a peppy freshman. Well, as a survivor of this syndrome, let me give you a few pointers to bring back your sunshine.
Peek at Your Priorities. Are you bogged down with courses, clubs and commitments? Figure out a way to lighten your load. If you’re like me, you’re loyal to a fault and it becomes hard for you to let go of anything you’ve become a part of. You feel like by letting go you’re letting that entity down. However, there are times in your life where you have to think about yourself.
If something is taking more than it is giving, if you don’t feel at ease in the environment, if you stress more over this activity than you do school work, if your grades are dropping as a result, it’s time to leave.
You are there for school primarily. Don’t let anything suck that away from you. Those people and activities you are committed to aren’t going to pay those student loans if you lose your scholarships, nor are they going to find you a job if you are forced to drop out.
When you lose sight of your focus it’s like you started running a race backwards. You’re still running toward the finish line, but you can’t see it. In order to rekindle your drive, you need to turn around, let go of your scheduled distractions, and face your goal.
Pace the Race. Did you know that runners don’t start off at their fastest speed when they take off? They pace themselves. They get gradually faster and wait until they’ve reached a certain mark before they unleash their full ability. Why is that? They don’t want to burn out.
They don’t want to use all their speed at the beginning and render themselves unable to finish strongly.
If you’re like me, you’re a busy body. You always have something to do and like to keep moving.
One of my largest personality flaws I had to overcome was the fact that I didn’t take breaks. My mother tried to warn me but I didn’t understand and refused to listen. I then suffered physically, emotionally and academically until I learned to pace the race.
You see it is just as important for you to work hard as it is for you to take breaks. If taking a breather is too much for you to remember due to your harrowing load, look for opportunities to schedule free time. That’s FREE time as in no thinking about work you have to do, no planning your next activity; free time is time you set aside to simply exist, to do some meaningless activity of relaxation.
If you can’t schedule this daily, then I suggest you at least do it every other day. It’s important both to your ability to finish the race strongly and to your mental health.
Passes on Classes. Sometimes we get so driven that it’s a bad thing. We put on blinders and begin to thwart the graduation checklist, cutting it down in size.
When we get into the upper-level classes, they can get difficult. If you have one of those paper-writing majors like mine, that can mean at least five papers to write a week that are each at least eight pages long. That’s enough to make anyone want to quit.
I’m here to tell you that, even though it may seem like a waste of money, sometimes it’s worth it to take an elective here and there to break up that heavy course load. These electives, though not always a part of the departmental checklist, can be indirectly linked to your success.
Imagine it. You’ve come from a long lecture about something you got from the reading already and, instead of sitting through another three-hour course on something else that’s quite dense, you blow off some steam in fencing class or release some tension in a nice yoga class.
Yes, if you are looking for a way to schedule some down time, a great way is to add it into your class schedule. I once had a class where we did yoga stretches and learned to relax. It was the best non-needed class I ever had. It was this break that allowed me to deal with Communication Law and Ethics combined with News Writing (lots of papers and lots of news watching). This seemingly money-wasting class kept me from making truth of my threats to quit college which I frequented my parents with during my junior year.
Flaunt Your Finale. The best way to rekindle your fire is to remember why you started, tease yourself with the victory, flaunt your finale before your mind. Make a vision board.
Get a poster and either some old magazines or a marker. (You don’t have to show this to anyone so it can be as pretty or ugly as your abilities allow.) Now, begin to cut and paste phrases and words that you want to see in your life post graduation. If you have only a marker, draw them. Be detailed. Be specific. Don’t just say you want a nice car. Say you want a 2015 Mustang GT that is dark blue and has a six-cylinder engine. Say you want to have a job at AT&T headquarters making $60,000 a year working 9-5, Monday through Friday.
When you are done, look at your board and visualize yourself here. After college. After your diploma. With your new job, your new car. See yourself living here and realize that the present is simply temporarily but the future is inevitable.
With these four techniques I promise you can rekindle your passion. Prioritize, pace yourself, give yourself some easy classes to accommodate for the difficult ones, grab ahold to the mental picture of your future and you will make it across the finish line. The finale is coming and you will be ready.