Jain: How to gain and retain motivation

Nikhita Jain, Staff Writer

We are humans, not robots. We cannot always perform flawlessly and tirelessly for days on end (well at least most of us). We are prone to ups and downs. One day we may feel super productive and inspired, while another day, we may feel unmotivated and burnt out. Maintaining consistent motivation and dedication every day requires constant willpower, which can be difficult, especially amidst the challenging academics and competitive environment we as college students continually face. It is natural to encounter times when you are just not feeling it. However, it can interfere with our productivity and ability to accomplish our objectives. So how can we regain our motivation and preserve it? I have compiled a list of techniques to demonstrate how.


Personal Reflection 

Firstly, you can take some time for personal reflection to remind yourself of the reasons you are pursuing this particular path. Oftentimes, our goal is so far into the future that we forget about it or lose sight of it. Thus it is important to periodically jog our memory of our goals by asking ourselves questions like “why am I doing this?”, “what do I want to achieve?” or “will this bring me closer to my goals?”. Doing this will help to reset your mind and reverse feelings of low incentive. 

External Rewards

If intrinsic motivation is not enough, you can also create some external motivators over the short or medium term, such as little rewards or gifts to yourself for completing a specific task or daily goal. For example, if you complete all your tasks for a certain day you can perhaps relax with a movie or give yourself the next day off. 

Be around people who can inspire and influence you

Another simple way to manifest motivation is by surrounding yourself with go-getters. For instance, you can sit next to that person in class and befriend them, or find a mentor who can help you and keep you motivated. When we see other people taking action and living to their full potential, we are often encouraged to do the same. Additionally, you can read books or watch documentaries about someone you look up to and whose goals align with yours. 

Get rid of the negative self-talk 

A lack of motivation can also stem from self-doubt and a lack of belief in oneself. Hence, you can adopt practices aimed to help you better believe in yourself and your capabilities. One such practice is letting go of any doubtful and negative thoughts and cultivating positive and uplifting thoughts instead. This can be connected to the Law of Attraction, which is essentially the philosophy that whatever you think is what you will attract. Therefore, in thinking positive thoughts, you will attract positive outcomes and experiences. Inversely, you can remove feelings and thoughts doubts through actions. In other words, if you have doubts about doing something, just do it. This will disprove the doubtful thoughts and thus eliminate them.

Follow the Five-Minute Rule

Less motivation usually gives way to less productivity and procrastination. To counteract that and reignite your work drive, you can follow the “five-minute rule.” This method essentially urges you to work on your task for only five minutes, with the intention to stop working on the task after the five minutes ends. However, what ends up happening is you become capable of finishing the task since you overcome the activation energy needed to start the assignment, making you work beyond the five-minute increment. This strategy will help keep you on track despite how you may be feeling on a certain day. 

Create SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound)

Most likely, you already learned this technique from your navigator during your first year. Nonetheless, I wanted to still include it for those who perhaps forgot about it. Normally when we have large goals, we instinctively become intimidated and overwhelmed, which crushes our motivation. Thus, you can break it down into smaller and manageable goals. This will aid in making your larger goal seem less daunting, allowing you to reestablish hope and determination. 

These aren’t the only techniques or methods to improve your motivation and productivity, but hopefully, they inspire you to pursue regaining motivation within your life.