Study Tip #8
- Discouragement is a normal problem.
- Think about your deep positive goals.
- Think of specific purposes.
- Get support from another person.
- Think why you believe you can succeed.
- Think of bad results of not working.
- Think that time is short.
- Think that you freely chose to work.
1. Discouragement is a normal problem.
You may have noticed that when you feel discouraged about a class or a hard assignment, you tend to give up working. It is not unusual and it's a problem you can fight. Several normal things in most students' lives make them feel discouraged every so often. For example, as school goes on, people forget their purposes, they doubt their ability, and they get deeply tired. And if you can fight it and keep working, the discouragement won't harm you. It's at times like this that you need to know how to find your natural motivation so that you feel willing to try again. There are several honest ways to motivate yourself.
2. Think about your deep positive goals.
- In general, people who have a purpose for doing a task feel motivated to do it. People who lack a purpose, but do a task only because they have to do it, feel bored and resentful.
- Call to mind your deep positive goals. Think why you value them. Now think how going to school helps you reach them. Next think how taking your courses helps attain your goals. Next think the awful thought of how you could hurt your deep goals if you give in to your negative feelings and skip studying. Finally, use this realization as your emotional energy to want to study. Decide to study.
- Think of your values. Think of what you stand for, of what limits you will not step over. Think of your ideals and your standards of excellence. With these values in mind, now think of what will happen if you give in to your negative feelings and skip studying. Will it violate your values? If so, use this understanding as the basis for emotional energy to decide to study.
- Think of the you will notice after you do your tasks. Visualize them and imagine feeling them. It will help. For example, can you remember the satisfying feelings of accomplishment that you feel after you create something? Now look ahead to finishing that English paper, doing that math and learning it, and knowing that history. Imagine feeling satisfying feelings of accomplishment. Use them to motivate you.
3. Think of specific purposes that you accomplish by doing this homework.
- Research by psychologists shows that working to attain specific purposes and goals has great power to focus and motivate us. If you don't set a purpose while studying to find and learn something, you will drift into working for substitute purposes. Students often drift into the purpose to work fast on a homework assignment and finish it soon. If you follow that purpose, your brain will notice less, understand less, and remember less.
- Here are some useful purposes: You will often want (1) to find important information, (2) to understand it, (3) to remember it, and (4) to mentally relate it to other information.
- When you get a specific assignment, try to feel curious about what the information will say. Be specific to yourself. Curiosity is a powerful motive. It is the most natural motive to arouse when you study.
- Let yourself want to master a task. When you feel the mastery motive, you will want to answer what's important in each assignment. Every book, chapter, and section will differ. Figure out important questions; ask yourself; set the goal to hunt the answers. Use your instructor's teaching goals as clues.
4. Get support from another person.
- When we hear other people tell us why it really matters to do something, we believe their reasons more than when we tell ourselves.
- Ask someone who knows, "Tell me why doing this homework and going to class is all worthwhile." Listen to what they say. So find someone who knows, tell them that you will inevitably feel blue and irritated at school from time to time, and that you want them to encourage you.
- In fact, tell them some things to say to you. They can often have surprising power to help you motivate yourself to work again.
5. Think why you believe you can succeed.
- People who believe that they can succeed are likely to try things. People who expect to fail a task want to avoid working on it. That means that when you believe that you can succeed in understanding, remembering, and solving problems, you will be willing to work. There are several ways you get support for your self-confidence.
- Learn how to learn. When you know you can learn, then you can tackle hard subjects. You will know that even though you cannot understand them at first, your repeated efforts will succeeed. Then when your dark doubts sing their dirty songs in your head, you can sing back, "I can learn."
- Find out if other people have learned the same material before. Find out if anyone with your general amount of intelligence and amount of prior knowledge of the topic has been able to learn it. Ask your teacher. Ask other students. If someone with your ability has succeeded, you know you can, too.
- Find someone who believes in you and who will tell you so. Say, "I need to be told I'm smart enough to do this."
- Set reasonable standards to evaluate yourself with. Stop setting perfectionistic standards. People sometimes expect that they should be able to read material just once and then recall it at will. No! Memory requires deliberate study; skills require much practice. So keep in mind the facts about learning and study. Allow yourself to make normal mistakes. Then you will believe you can succeed with study and time.
6. Think about all the bad results that will happen if you don't work.
- When people sit down and think through the good and bad results that they can cause by making their decisions, they avoid bad decisions much more effectively.
- As you think about the consequences of putting off your work, think of the past when you procrastinated. Later, did you have to do the work in a hurry? If so, did you dislike the pressure? Did you notice that your first decision to delay led to the bad habit of delaying and your problem got greater? If in the past you created bad situations, you will naturally want to avoid that past pain. So use the memory of past pain to decide to study.
- Also think about the future. If you follow your negative feelings and avoid your work once, what is likely to happen? Are you likely to put it off again? If you avoid it repeatedly, what may happen? Do you like those results or do you want to avoid them? Know that your decision now creates your future. You will live with it. Create only what you want!
6. Think that time is short.
- When people think that time is short and that they might run out of time, they feel motivated to work. However, when they think they have plenty of time, they feel relaxed and unwilling to work. So if you deliberately want to raise your motivation, then think of these things:
- Think about how short the time is before your assignment is due. Be specific.
- Think about how many other activities are competing for your time. Be specific. Include hours of eating and sleeping. Realize that you have even less time for truly working than it looks like.
- Think about unpredictable events that might steal your time. They might stop you from getting your work done.
- Think about the blocks of time that you have available soon that you can work in.
- Then let yourself act!
7. Remind yourself that you freely chose to take college courses.
- Avoid rebellion. People who have freely chosen to do something usually feel they like it. People who were forced into doing something dislike it. They dislike having their freedom to choose taken away from them.
- This principle affects students because their teachers give them assignments and require them to do things. Gradually, they forget that they chose to take the course and feel resentful. Eventually, they rebel against working.
- So if you begin to hate the authority of your teachers, you can cure it by remembering your own choices and goals. Remind yourself that you personally chose to take your courses and that you freely want to do your work.
- Don't keep thinking, "I was forced into this" because it leads you to resent your work and to run away from it.