Nicole Ucheya, our last scholarship contest winner knows how to motivate everyone! She can become your personal mentor on motivation if you’ll watch her carefully :). Read her super encouraging essay and get inspired by reading her essay and watching the video below.
Some days you just feel blah. Some days, you simply don’t feel like doing anything. Some days, it’s much easier to binge-watch the latest season of Stranger Things than it is to complete the things on your to do list… I may or may not be speaking from personal experience.
Still, however unmotivated we may feel every now and again, there are still tasks to be checked off, goals to be accomplished, and time to be spent.
This raises the broad question: what can one do the stay motivated? After some brainstorming, I landed on four tips that will surely supercharge anyone’s motivation.
Clean Your Environment.
Our environment tends to impact our mood and behavior. Take the weather, for instance. In a general sense, people tend to associate rainy days with bad moods while sunshine and blue skies make it easier to be happy. The same goes for seasons. In the bitter winter months, many find themselves caught up in seasonal depression while spring and summer is a time of rejuvenation and fun.
Now, we can’t control the weather. However, we can control our personal environments–our rooms. In the same way, a rainy day can leave someone feeling dull or upset, a cluttered room can leave us feeling like a mess and make us less inclined to do our work.
Think about it. An unkempt environment quite literally leaves nowhere to actually do the work in question, whether that be studying for a test or working on a project. Of course, there are spaces outside of one’s room where such tasks can be completed. In fact, another way to stay motivated could be to work in a new environment altogether, such as a library or creative space that leaves no room for trifling.
Even so, your room is where you lay your head at night and wake up in the morning. It’s a personalized space that sets the tone for your own being. I, for one, have noticed a strong correlation between a messy room and a messy mind. In fact, I’m not sure if I would be working on this essay right now if I hadn’t cleaned my room earlier! There’s something about a made bed and decluttered space that makes someone want to be productive. For instance, I had been meaning to work on this piece for the longest time but couldn’t feel compelled to start.
However, after organizing my room, I was much more willing to get some work done.
All in all, a neat environment definitely eliminates the excuse of not having a place to work and makes people much more inclined to be productive.
Make a list of admired, hardworking individuals.
Write a list of 10 – 20 people who inspire you to be the best version of yourself. Or better yet, if you’re artsier, make a collage of said people. Whatever the form, put it somewhere you’ll always see it. Personally, I had simply typed the list of people, centered it in the middle of a yellow background and made it my phone’s home screen wallpaper. From public figures (like Michelle Obama and Alicia Keys) to people I know (such as my mom and respected friends), the names of people I admired stared back at me every day.
The idea is that whenever I see it, I think to myself if any of these people would be proud of how I was spending my time? Of what I was doing right now? “Now” could be that moment, that week, that month, or even that year. In any case, the questions make me re-evaluate how I’m spending my time because chances are I’m about to tap through Snapchat or scroll through Instagram as opposed to tackling my To-Do list. That’s why my role model list was strategically placed as my phone wallpaper since my phone is my number one vehicle for succumbing to laziness and procrastination, further feeding into a lack of motivation.
More often than not, after seeing the list of my personal role models and asking myself those key questions, I’d be reminded of goals I want and/or need to accomplish, in turn motivating me to get to work. For instance, on account of my little reminder (as well as cleaning my room), I’ve sat myself down to write about this prompt.
Whether one uses a list on their phone or hangs up a collage by their desk, the most important aspect of this idea is to place the visual in a place one will see it frequently, so it can serve as a constant form of motivation to work towards their aspirations and assignments.
Break it down and plan it out.
Often times when tasked with something, it may appear too daunting to be bothered with. From in-class presentations to formal research, a mere glance at the entire assignment can be enough to discourage you.
The key is to start small. It’s hard to be motivated to do something that seems too massive to work towards. Instead, think about the parts of the project as opposed to the whole project. For instance, instead of staring at the word count and essay topics with nothing but dreadful writer’s block, I decided that today I would just look at the past winners’ submissions for inspiration. Then the next day, I could choose a topic and potentially do some research. Next time, I can begin outlining. The breakdown and planning go on.
The funny thing is that once I completed my first bite-sized task for the day, I was more willing to move on to the next one. And the next one. Now suddenly, I’m on the third point of an essay that I didn’t think I was capable of writing just two hours ago.
This goes to show that breaking down a goal or task truly makes one more inclined to do it. After all, starting tends to be the hardest part of doing anything, and it’s much easier to begin when there’s a series of smaller, manageable tasks laid out before you. In essence, viewing the parts instead of the whole will do wonders for supercharging one’s motivation. Simply break down the goal into baby steps, plan when you can take them, and soon enough you’ll surprise yourself with how easy–and willing–you were to go the distance.
Take time for yourself.
Many people, myself included, feel like they need to be all systems go in order to be considered productive, and the thought of that prospect alone is exhausting. Fortunately, that is not reality.
The reality is that a great way to supercharge one’s motivation is–as ironic as it may seem–to take a break. Rest. SLEEP.
People need to take time for themselves in order to have a mindset with the capacity for efficiency. Whether it’s setting aside a day to do nothing or allowing yourself to watch a movie before diving into the items on your to-do list, leisure gives you the chance to relax, and it’s when you feel well-rested that you will be more inclined to do work.
Taking time for yourself also means taking care of yourself, and food/drink consumption plays an important role in this. There’s no need to follow an extreme dieting plan; just be mindful of what foods and drinks you consume. A person can only take in so many bags of chips and cans of soda at a time before feeling grimy with regret.
In the same vein, exercising regularly is a big part of looking after yourself. It’s common knowledge that after being exercised, our bodies release endorphins, showering us with a positive feeling. Why not take advantage of that natural trigger by exercising daily? This doesn’t mean adopting a bodybuilder’s workout routine; simply going for a 5 – 10-minute jog would be enough. I do this every morning, and the endorphin rush always leaves me motivated to be productive.
All in all, your health is your wealth, and no one can be expected to operate well without maintaining it. Through proper rest, mindful consumption, and simple exercise, not only can we keep from feeling sluggish, but we can also expect to be more prone to productivity.
From acing a semester of college to working towards a career goal to simply learning a new skill, people can use all the motivation they can get. That’s why these ideas are so helpful. As mentioned several times, I actually consider these tips a big part of why I was able to write this essay, and I have no doubt that they are applicable to other objectives one may need supercharged motivation for.
Ideas to Supercharge Your Motivation by Nicole Ucheya
Name: Nicole Ucheya
Institution: Johns Hopkins University
City of Residence: Delran, NJ
Graduation Year: 2023