dream big and create a future you are passionate about to stay motivated in college right now
You’re here because you need to stay motivated in college and are struggling. Pulling out your books each day feels so damn hard! Read on, my friend, because this simple 20-minute strategy may be just the motivation boost you need.
A while back I posted a question on FaceBook and asked current college students what their college degree means to them. Many of the students said a college degree didn’t mean anything. They said nothing would change when they got their degree. What ?!?
I was shocked at the answers and noticed an interesting pattern. These same students were regularly struggling with motivation to study and succeed in school. Which makes total sense!
When you lack a compelling reason to do something, it is harder to actually do it.
I’ve noticed how impactful a motivating reason is in my own life. After having my daughter I struggled to lose weight as so many new mamas do. It really bothered me, but weight loss wasn’t a big enough reason for me to change my diet and lifestyle. Everything I tried failed because I wasn’t deeply motivated by weight loss. Then my weight started to connect with how I felt and I wasn’t able to do the things with my growing toddler that I wanted to do. I wanted an active life, energy to keep up with her, and the ability to play outside every day. That compelled me to make some big lifestyle changes, regain my health, and lose weight.
A compelling reason motivated me to make a change.
Small dreams = small motivation
Your motivation to work hard every day in college is tied to what your degree means to you, and the dreams you have for your life. If you want to stay motivated in college you have to stay focused on why you’re doing this every day and tap into your unique compelling reason.
One thing to note here: your reason only needs to be compelling to you. Not to your parents. Not to your spouse. Not to me. Only to yourself. In our social-media-obsessed world, we hear so many inspiring stories about people who have big dreams to change the world. Their big, world-changing dreams can start to make less grand dreams seem too small.
We do need to dream big but focus on how the dream feels to you. When your whole face lights up with a grin thinking about your future, you know you’re on the right track! It doesn’t matter if the same future makes me smile in the same way because it isn’t my dream.
Your big compelling reason to study hard and earn your degree may be:
- promotion at your current job
- higher salary
- doing work you’re passionate about
- starting your own business
- providing more for your family
- expanding your job opportunities
- finally becoming a/an ______________
- proving you can do this
- making yourself proud
Notice this list doesn’t include writing papers or reading textbooks? Those activities are never going to make us stay motivated in college. They are the hard work we do to one day realize our big dreams.
start dreaming to stay motivated in college
Maybe you haven’t spent time thinking about your motivating dreams and aren’t sure how to get started. It requires some reflection and a willingness to ask yourself uncomfortable questions. Discomfort is actually why many of us avoid dreaming about our futures. If we dream of something amazing and it doesn’t happen, we’ll feel disappointed.
To prevent feeling disappointed in the future we disappoint ourselves today by never trying. Nuts, huh?
Don’t get too stuck on this!
You aren’t committing to this dream for the rest of your life. You won’t be a failure if you can’t create the exact future you pick out. Identify a future version of yourself that feels great to think about and work towards, but know this future vision can and will change. I love what I do today, teaching web development and helping students succeed in school. When I was a college student picturing life after school I never imagined this! I worked towards something different but along the way adapted to opportunities that arose and new interests I discovered.
Ready to get started?
1. Start Writing
One of the best ways to understand yourself and process your thoughts is to write. It activates a different part of your brain than thinking through something and also provides perspective to consider and evaluate your own thinking.
Grab some paper, a pencil, and a timer.
Set the timer for ten minutes and challenge yourself to keep writing for the entire time. Try not to even pick your pencil up. If you feel stuck, use the questions below to guide you and write the first thing coming to mind.
2. Ask the Right Questions
The most effective way to find a great answer is to ask yourself the right question. Did you know your brain is wired to answer any question? I can ask myself both “Why do I suck at math?” and “Why am I good at math?” and come up with answers and evidence to both questions.
If you need some help getting started, ask yourself some of these questions:
- What am I usually doing when I lose track of time?
- When did I last feel proud of myself?
- What change to my current job make me feel excited about going to work?
- When I imagine myself successful in 10 years, I see…
3. Analyze Your Thoughts
When you finish your ten minutes of writing, take a break. You may walk away for a few minutes, or plan to come back to it tomorrow. Stepping away from your own words is helpful to get some perspective and see things fresh.
When you come back, review what you wrote and look for patterns or key ideas. What words stand out to you?
Focus on these keywords as you put together a clear vision for your future. Incorporate all of the best things from your reflection and imagine a future where anything is possible. Because it is. Seriously. This amazing future you is paramount to staying motivated in college today.
4. Feel It Now and stay motivated in college
Now you have a vision for your future self. Looks good, right? To power up this exercise, go beyond the logistics of your future and consider how you’ll feel and think like a successful future _______(fill in the blank).
Maybe you want to be a pediatrician. How will you feel when you are a pediatrician? How will it feel to help kids and parents? How will it feel to earn a salary and supports your family? How will it feel to know you made it through med school? How will you think about your time as a student? What will you think about working in the medical field?
The most amazing part? When you hone in on the thoughts and feelings your future, successful, awesome self has, you can start to feel those same things right now. To stay motivated in college you have to stay focused on the future you are creating. Every choice you make today takes you closer to your dream future.
Try It Yourself: 20-minute Challenge
- Grab some paper and a pencil.
- Set a timer for 10 minutes and challenge yourself to keep writing until the timer goes off.
- Take a break.
- Come back to what you wrote and read through what you wrote, identifying keywords that jump out to you.
- Use those keywords to craft your dream. What does the future you love doing? How does it feel to be future you?