How to Stay Motivated

We have officially finished week 8 of the semester and at least for me, it feels like it has flown by. You might be wishing for a break and thinking about how winter vacation can’t come fast enough- but I am here to push you to continue strong until the last day of finals. 

Staying motivated is not an easy endeavor on a ‘good day’ and it could be the last thing you think of on a ‘bad day’, but I hope to change your perspectives on this. 

Think about why you want to do this 

Occasionally, the only motivation we need to continue is to take a step back and realize why we are doing what we are doing. For example, it could be as simple as a boring class but a pre-requisite for your desired program. Someone told me: ‘In life, you won’t always enjoy each task, you won’t always like who you work with or work for, but life is about seeing the good in each obstacle and moving forward’. Since then, it has stuck with me. When I encounter a task that is draining or monotonous, I think about how this is one class, in one semester, in one year, and eventually, time will pass and I will fulfill my dreams of being a doctor. We each have different goals but I would recommend explicitly outlining yours so that you feel as if you are going in a set direction. 

Taken in 2015 during a patient simulation at Johns Hopkins University Summer Medical Program. (I am on the farthest left) It’s been a long time since I thought about this experience but every time I do, I think about how much I have grown since then. My passion for medicine has expanded exponentially and I come to appreciate the fact that education is the means of achieving my dreams.

Set up a reward system 

A classic system our mind has been conditioned for is the basis of ‘action’ and ‘reward’. You might be thinking; a piece of chocolate is not going to motivate me to write an essay when I could instead be spending time with my friends. If that’s the type of thought process in your mind, you won’t get work done because there is that ‘instead…’ clause that entices you more. When you need to get a task done, it should be your primary focus, or at least persuade your mind to believe so! If you are distracted with another task (either that be personal, professional, social, academic, etc.) and attempt to write an essay [for example], it definitely won’t be your best work. I suggest a small mindfulness exercise before starting your work; some affirmations you may include: “This is only an essay. I am capable of working hard. I know that I am capable of getting through this. When I succeed at this, I will grow stronger.” The rush you will feel after finishing the essay is better than any materialistic reward you could entice yourself with.

Plan it out 

Breaking up a large task into smaller pieces makes it less intimidating to start, and I mean who can deny the satisfaction of crossing each task off a list? Since we are sticking with the essay example, if it is possible, it is a good idea to write ‘page 1, page 2….’ each as a task of its own so that you don’t the larger nature of an essay. Personally, my whole life is on my Google Calendar and I make the effort to plan everything out, so I know that if I have a due date written in and work backward from there- I can get it all done. 

If you believe in yourself, you can get it done. Just look at what you have accomplished thus far. 

Best of luck!

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