5 ways to stay motivated in college
Now that you’ve gone back to school, how do you stay focused when you’ve got a sink full of dirty dishes, your child needs new soccer cleats and you have a paper due in eight hours?
To help you stay motivated until graduation, Sandra Moody, an instructor in the psychology program at the University of Phoenix Bay Area Campus, offers these five strategies:
Cultivate a confident perspective.
The most important thing you can do is adopt the right mindset, notes Moody, a motivational career coach. “Our beliefs guide our actions, so if you learn how to keep … positive,” she says, “it can have the largest impact in terms of helping you persist in the face of challenges.”
Moody recommends posting signs at home that bear affirmations, or reading “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” which outlines how your mindset can affect all areas of your life and provides tips on how to be resilient in your thinking.
Develop a flexible plan.
To juggle responsibilities successfully, you need to determine clear goals and concrete ways to achieve them, such as scheduling homework time versus family time. For ideas on how to create a plan, Moody recommends checking out the Smart Goals section on the PhoenixConnect® academic social network.
Re-evaluate your plan regularly and adjust it if responsibilities change, such as having to care for a child, so you have options to complete your assignments on time.
Rely on a support network.
Identify people you can talk to when you’re struggling, Moody advises. Maybe it’s the person who persuaded you to return to school, or perhaps you have friends or colleagues who are inspiring to hang around because they successfully overcame their own challenges.
“It’s important to nurture those supportive relationships,” Moody says, “and spend time around those people whenever you can, even if it’s just a 10-minute phone call,” because it can help reinforce why you returned to school.
Acknowledge your progress.
It’s hard to imagine getting through an entire college program if you only look at the big picture, Moody notes. But when you break your achievements into small pieces, it’s easier to see progress.
She suggests that you celebrate small victories, such as finishing a difficult paper, with a reward, such as seeing a movie or eating a treat. “It’s not as important to celebrate the end goal of graduating,” she stresses, “but more about recognizing the day-to-day movement that you are making.”
View setbacks as opportunities.
When something bad happens, such as you fail a course, Moody recommends objectively evaluating the experience and what you can learn from it. “Our stumbles are life’s greatest opportunities,” she notes.
“Take the time to reflect on what happened, how your behaviors and actions may have contributed to the situation,” she says, ”and figure out what you can do differently in the future, using your strengths and talents to move forward.”