When you add something wonderful and brand new to your life’s regular routine, you’re instantly motivated to embrace it and be attentive to it. Whether it’s a new gym membership, a new relationship, or a promotion at work, you’re excited, inspired, and motivated at the possibility of where this new element in your daily life will lead.
Sustaining that high level of interest over time in this new venture, however, is sometimes easier said than done. If purposeful actions aren’t taken, it’s easy for the excitement to subside. The same holds true for adult college students who are pursuing their degree online. Initially, the dedication, commitment, and motivation are steadfast and at an all-time high. After a few courses, however, the motivation may seem like it’s starting to wane.
Here are some tips to staying motivated – even when life seems overwhelming (and you have a million things on your “to do” list in addition to your coursework):
#1. Take note of the details along the way
Instead of saying to yourself, “This week I have to do my online coursework,” be more specific with your time. Write down, “Saturday mornings from 7 AM – 10 AM and Monday evenings from 7 PM – 9 PM, I will do my homework.” Block off that committed time on your calendar as if it were an appointment for your hair, your nails, or to meet your buddies at the local gym. By making a commitment of your time, you won’t spend the whole week stressed out thinking about what you have to get done or wonder when you are going to do it – you already know that Saturday mornings and Monday evenings are reserved exclusively for your coursework.
#2. Focus on the finish line
While attending to the particular details of your academic goals each week, you also want to keep your big, overarching goals in mind – to complete the particular course in which you are currently enrolled and, ultimately, to earn your degree. Once you have completed all the requirements for your degree, you will have a credential that no one can take away from you and that will forever enhance your personal and professional life in numerous ways. You can stay motivated through the academic process by continuously envisioning how earning a degree will inspire, influence, and improve your life and the lives of your loved ones.
You can stay motivated through the academic process by continuously envisioning how earning a degree will inspire, influence, and improve your life and the lives of your loved ones.
#3. Tell someone
You’ll stay motivated in your academic pursuits if you tell others about your plans and your goals. It’s a lot easier to drop out of a college course (or a gym membership) if you’ve never told anyone that you are actively pursuing it to begin with. If you share with your family members, your circle of friends, and/or your colleagues at work, they will be able to help celebrate your milestones and keep you accountable and motivated to continue. During the moments you feel overwhelmed and like you just want to give up, they’ll help remind you of how much you’ve accomplished thus far and how close you are to achieving your ultimate goal.
#4. Reward yourself
While the big rewards are the completion of another college class and the earning of the degree, reward yourself along the way as you continue to move forward on your academic journey. You can reward yourself after completing your first week of coursework, at the halfway mark, and once you completed a course. The reward could be something as simple as purchasing a new coveted notebook to ordering dinner from your favorite restaurant. Completing a college class online is a big deal. It is a big accomplishment. Knowing that you will reward yourself at certain milestones along the way will help to keep you motivated.
#5. Connect with other students
You’ll be meeting new people in your virtual online classrooms who share many of the same challenges, issues, and concerns that you will be experiencing. Connect with them. You can email them and look for their postings on the discussion boards each week to respond to and show your support in their efforts. In addition, take the time to read the stories of other students who have been where you are now. You’ll be motivated and inspired to continue once you discover that you are not alone and that if others can continue on through their academic journey, you can, too!
#6. Make a list of why you decided to go back to school
Make a list of the reasons why you decided to go back to school, print it, and look at it often. Reminding yourself of why you first embraced this new journey will help to motivate you and keep you focused. Perhaps you decided to go back to school to secure a better job or to be considered as a viable candidate for that promotion. Perhaps you are the first one in your family to earn your degree, or maybe everyone else in your family has earned a degree except you. You might have decided to go back to school because it’s a goal you have had since you were in high school. Maybe others in your life look up to you and you know that pursuing and accomplishing this goal will inspire them. Whatever your reason(s), print them and look at them often. They’ll keep you moving forward during the moments you feel overwhelmed.
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