Motivation and Study

Are you having trouble getting your work done on time because you just can’t be bothered?

Have you lost your enthusiasm and your passion for varsity?

Have you lost sight of your goals?

Are you wondering why you’re here?

Lapses or a loss of motivation is a relatively common problem for students.

It is also rather crucial because it is our motivation that helps spur us along the path to success at university. At best, without motivation university simply becomes yet another chore that has to be completed. At worst it may mean that you fail your coursework.

In helping students rekindle their motivation it is important to first determine the cause of the motivational crisis.

Motivational diffs can be broadly classified into four main categories.

  1. Skill Deficits

If you find the work difficult and don’t feel as if you are mastering it even after significant effort it is difficult to remain enthused. In order to be motivated we need to have some sense that the end goal is obtainable. With skill deficits we lose confidence and these end goals start to feel unobtainable. Understandably this is often accompanied by a loss of motivation.

  • Physical /Psychological Illness.

In order to remain motivated towards our life goals we need to sustain an adequate state of health – both mentally and physically. When energy levels dwindle or we are fighting off infections it is difficult to remain focussed on our other goals. Similarly, many psychological problems directly affect our motivation . For example, it is well documented that one of the symptoms of depression is a loss of motivation and a decrease in general enthusiasm for life.

  • Absence of End Goals

While a degree in itself is a legitimate goal often it is not enough to keep us motivated through several years of hard study. If we are not sure what we want to do with the degree or with our life in general it is difficult to sustain the energy required to succeed with a long course of study.

  • Loss of Direction

Many students begin university with firm goals for the future. As we mature and learn more about ourselves however these goals may no longer hold the same importance or relevance. We may decide that the initial goals are no longer consistent with what we want or we may become disillusioned with the initial goal as we learn more about where it will take us. In this case the initial goals are no longer motivating and until we find new ones it is likely that we will experience a sense of confusion about the future.  


What to Do About It

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  1. Address any Skill Deficits.

If you have tried mastering the work on your own and are still experiencing difficulty you may wish to consider seeking further assistance. There are several options for seeking further help:

  • Form a study group with fellow class members – sometimes working in a group can assist the learning process.
  • A one-on-one tutor for the areas that you are struggling with is very productive. Tutors often charge an hourly fee and can be sourced form Student Job Search.
  • Attend one of the Writing and Study Skills (WASS) programmes or seek individual tuition from WASS.
  • Seek Medical or Psychological Help.

Maintaining a balanced lifestyle should work towards warding off illness. For example, eating a balanced diet, taking regular exercise, maintaining a regular sleep routine, drinking and smoking in moderation, taking time out form your studies and so on. Should you still fall ill Student Health offers a comprehensive medical service for all students.

Despite our best efforts sometimes we fall prey to psychological difficulties. Depression is a very common illness amongst students as are eating disorders, anxiety problems, addictions and so on. It is important to seek professional help if you feel you may be suffering from any psychological difficulties. Seeing a professional will result in dealing with the problems in the most effective way.

  • Establish Relevant Goals.

Having a purpose and something to work towards are important ingredients in maintaining motivation levels. Not having goals or having to reevaluate these goals often results in students experiencing difficulties maintaining their momentum.

In order to establish relevant goals for yourself you need to get to know yourself and work out what is that you want out of life. This is not always easy. We receive so many messages from so many sources that it is  often difficult to separate out what we really want ourselves. For example, often we end up doing what we think we should do rather than what we actually want to do. 

Sometimes life experiences will help you to working through this dilemma but it may also be useful to talk to a professional about these issues. I have years of experience helping students navigate motivational issues so would be happy to assist.

Andrea Mulligan

Registered Psychologist

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