Motivation Lost: reinvigorating yourself in trying times

We’ve all reached a point in our lives where all tasks just seem too big. When choosing between doing work and scrolling through your phone, the phone wins every time. Here are some tips on how you can get yourself back on track.

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In this image, a girl is featured laying on top of all of her responsibilities being distracted by her phone. This is a position we have all been in where our liabilities just seem like too much work, and you lack all motivation to get them done.

Sanna Lexhed, Associate Editor

As the year slowly comes to an end, many Saint Stephen’s students have found themselves running low on motivation. Freshmen are overwhelmed by the many years of high school ahead of them, juniors are battling the hardest year of their careers, and seniors are desperate for a change in environment. Oh and sophomores… I’m sure they have some struggles too.
Regardless, we’re all in a rut and we could all use some advice on how to get back on our feet. But how can we uphold the high spirits and energy that we had in August? Is it even possible? How exactly does one regain lost motivation?

Through some in-depth research and personal experience, I have created a list of three tips that may help you regain that lost “spark.”

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1. Remind yourself of the goal aka “see the big picture”
This one is obvious, but it’s something that has helped me to keep a positive mindset in regard to school. By reminding yourself what it is you are actually doing all of this for, you realize that all of your hard work isn’t for nothing and that it will pay off in the long run.
In regard to keeping your eye on the prize, junior Isabel Sevilla said, “I have definitely found myself in a sort of third-interim-slump lately, but having my dream college in the back of my mind while I do my homework has definitely been a huge motivation for me as a student.”

2. Spicing up your routine
Personally, I’ve found that the moment I begin to skip things such as sports and spending time with friends, I simultaneously begin to feel an instant lack of motivation and inspiration in my life.
It’s almost like the less things I do, the less drive I have to do anything at all. It turns into an endless cycle of not having any energy to do things because of the lack of stimuli in your day-to-day life. By filling up your schedule with hobbies you enjoy such as sports, cooking, crafts, or even mindless activities like grocery shopping, you stimulate your mind in a very beneficial way.
So, to jump-start your mind back into action, consider taking on a new hobby or finding a social outlet like a club or sport. Taking on a new skill other than schoolwork (or whatever else it is that is draining your energy) may be exactly what you need to get back to the high-spirited productive person you aspire to be.
Does finding a new hobby seem like a challenging task? Well, Benjamin Gardner, Phillippa Lally, and Jane Wardle discuss in an article the psychology behind forming new habits and their benefits on life. While the article goes into more detail, what you need to know is that to form a habit, all you really need to do is “repeat an action consistently in the same context.” In other words, it’s easy and anyone can do it.

Junior Juliana Howe recently explained to me that “through my new love for baking, I have found myself actually being more productive in other areas of my life.”

3. Setting reasonable, achievable goals
This one is very important. You can’t expect too much of yourself. As high schoolers, we feel pressure from everyone and everything around us to succeed. We are constantly reminded of what’s ahead (college) and rarely get time to focus on the present moment because we are constantly preparing for the future.
To ease this stress I recommend taking a step back from all your studying and reflect upon the work you are doing. Is it too much to handle? Are you putting too much pressure on yourself to get straight A’s? What you need to realize is that no one can be good at everything; therefore it’s unrealistic to pressure yourself to do perfectly in every class you take. Set reasonable goals for yourself and maybe even lower your standards. This will relieve some of the weight of being a “perfect” student because it’s practically unachievable.
How will this motivate you, you ask? By setting attainable goals, you are constantly rewarding yourself by obtaining them. If you continue to expect the absolute best from yourself, you will never be satisfied as you will never be able to live up to that expectation.

4. Dropping the negative thoughts
Something that often comes hand-in-hand with the lack of motivation is the increase in procrastination. Typically, where procrastination gets to us the most is right at the start of something. For example, once we are halfway through an assignment and actively doing it, it seems easy. But, going from not doing an assignment to doing it is the hardest part. We tend to think about how long it will take us and how many aspects there are yet to complete. This overwhelms us and even stops us from doing the assignment whatsoever. But how do we stop this?
What I have found to be helpful is to, once again, look at the bigger picture and realize that the pros of doing an assignment usually outweigh the cons.
How I do this is that I reflect upon how many “bad” feelings I will feel by starting my homework. Then, I compare that to how many “bad” feelings I will feel if I don’t start my homework and leave it for the next day.
I typically find that yes, starting my homework is going to be a drag and not a very fun activity but, leaving it for the next day will cause me tremendous stress and will probably lead me to getting behind in school. I then decide that starting it is the better option and from there, I try to look at me completing my homework as a way of helping my future self instead of focusing on how boring it is going to be. So in other words, I try to forget the negative thoughts and focus on the future, positive, thoughts.

High school is hard, and a lot of the time not very fun. But, this doesn’t mean you should have to suffer through it. Along with the general, overall stress school brings, the world is also in turbulent times right now, and we’ve all been affected by the commotion in one way or another.

If you are currently struggling, whether it’s in regards to school or in your personal life, just remember that you’re not alone and you’ll get through it. We all will. Take care of yourself, spend time with your friends and family, remember your goals, and take each day as it comes.

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