Feeling Motivated (Even when We’re Not)

On school days when I was in seventh grade, my mom would wake my sister and me at 6:00am so we could exercise before getting ready for the day. I vividly remember half of me trying to wake up and the other half falling back asleep until my mom called again, this time with one of our exercise tapes queued up. Her loving but insistent “second call” voice did the trick to get me out of bed.

These days I’m the one queuing up a YouTube exercise video to start my workout. My motivation for exercise has become internally driven. I have taken charge. Thinking about this change in my life makes me realize that self-motivation is part of the maturing process.

I needed this internal motivation during my college years. College requires students to become their own boss in ways that life may not have required before. I certainly needed motivation to select a course from my degree plan, find the appropriate credit-by-exam test, and then study. I also needed motivation when I felt like I might never finish my degree because of the number of tests left to take.

Pulling from chapter 7 in College Without the Campus, I’m going to share a few of my favorite ways to kick start my day and find motivation to get things done.

    • What motivates me?

      Perhaps writing down why you are working your tail off will help you to press onward. I find periodically writing down long-term goals helpful for reorienting my outlook on life. I’ve seen some inspiring Instagram posts of goals written in bullet journal style.


    • Kick procrastination to the curb.

      Procrastination is quietly deadly. It kills my creativity and focus. When I’m procrastinating, I rarely feel satisfied with the work I get done in a day (because I’ve left off doing what needs doing most!). This dissatisfaction leads me to dread the next day of more stalling—which doesn’t make for a happy attitude to wake up with. Fortunately, procrastination can be quickly killed by simply attacking the problem. Note that I say quickly, rather than easily. 🙂


  • Use positive habits to nurture your self-motivation.

    Sometimes moving to a quiet area to complete a project can help, as can capitalizing on the morning hours. One of the more drastic measures I take is hiding my phone. Having a break from this distracter can be unsettling at first, but freeing in the long run. Probably my all-time favorite motivating strategy is to schedule a reward for completing a goal. There’s nothing like having a coffee date or a ice cream trip in my sights to make me buckle down. One final point is to pray. Without the purpose of something greater than myself, I wouldn’t continue fighting everyday battles. If I talk to God about these problems, I can find peace and even joy to bring into my life struggles.

Though I completed my degree in 2012, I’ve continued to use these motivation techniques to keep me on track toward reaching new goals. Even during the final week before Christmas with all the last-minute errands, the final preparations for gatherings, the buying and wrapping gifts, motivation is crucial. Something inside has to give me the will to move forward, especially when I might rather just sleep in! I hope these tips will spark ideas on what motivates you!


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