The leaves are green, the sun is shining bright, and the stores are opening up again! This past winter we were all stuffed in our houses under the lockdown. Now that the COVID-19 restrictions are lifting, and the weather is better, we’re all looking and feeling much better (thankfully!!). However, if you’re like me, and you love to set goals (whether academic, personal or professional) it can be difficult to feel motivated to keep up with the objectives you’ve set.
This past week, I was scrolling through workshops on the Career and Co-Curricular Learning Network (a great place to find workshops and activities hosted by Accessibility Services, Health and Wellness and other Student Life programs). I decided to attend the workshop titled “Building Motivation and Making Progress” on Friday, June 18.
While I’m not someone who often struggles with motivation, I think there’s always room for improvement and there are better ways to efficiently reach the goals I’ve set for myself.
Here are some of a few tips I’ll be implementing this summer and fall, to stay motivated during the academic semesters:
1. Build Positive Associations
Procrastination often comes from perfectionism, fear and anxiety. Instead of procrastinating, the workshop leader suggested starting off a task by visualizing the feeling of completing a task/assignment, reflecting on how the work supports a long-term goal, or identifying one thing that is interesting about your task, assignment or course.
As someone who fell out of love with my English major this past semester, I found it difficult not to avoid work in the final courses of that part of my degree. Building positive associations with my work helped me focus on how I would feel after I got my work done, and prevented me from forming unhealthy and avoidant habits.
2. Do Something Fun Before And After Each Task
I like to listen to R&B music to give me the boost and confidence I need to complete my work. Listening to music, doing some movement or even completing some mindfulness classes are some great ways to set yourself up to succeed. Likewise, I often reward myself after I’ve completed a difficult work session. I’ll buy myself a book I’ve been meaning to read or re-watch one of my favourite Spanish shows on Netflix — just to treat myself after doing something productive!
3. Set S.M.A.R.T.R Goals
I’m a dreamer. I love to set lofty, idealistic goals that, quite frankly, are often wildly unrealistic. In this workshop, however, I learned that setting S.M.A.R.T.R. goals is the best way to meet expectations. For example, you want to set a goal that is “specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound”, and plan to reward yourself while and after making progress.
This summer, I have a goal to stop procrastinating on assignments. This means I’ll be setting smaller, less general goals like working on my essays in chunks, and breaking them up into shorter parts. That way, I won’t feel so overwhelmed. I’ll also be rewarding myself (likely with ice cream!) each time I start or complete an assignment within the time frame that I’ve given myself.