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Motivation is defined as “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.” Motivation is probably the most crucial element involved in achieving your academic goals. To find the motivation to study, you need to know how to set goals that are motivational.
One of the key things to understand about goals and motivation is that simply having goals is not enough! Reaching the goals you set also involves the ability to persist when things get tough. This is where motivation comes in. Keep your goals in mind and keep in mind the ultimate payoff or reward you will receive for reaching those goals. That’s one way to stay motivated.
Your goals should have these 3 components in order to be motivational:
Being specific about your goals will help you to ignore any tasks or distractions that do not directly contribute to the goal. In this example, when faced with a lack of motivation to study for the class, and instead watch Netflix, you can return your mind to the goal you set and ask if watching Netflix will help you reach your goal to get an A in your class. Keeping your mind on the goal will help you to peel away those unhelpful distractions.
A little challenge is helpful when it comes to setting a goal to help you get and stay motivated. Think about it—do you feel better after you’ve completed a simple task that you could do in your sleep, or when you’ve successfully finished something that pushed you out of your comfort zone? The feeling of satisfaction that comes from completing something new and challenging is often a significant motivator. If you succeed in getting an A in a difficult class, imagine the happiness you’ll feel!
Do you care enough about the goal? If you don’t truly care about it, you won’t put in the effort to achieve it. Ask yourself why that goal is important—how will things improve for you as a result of achieving that goal? For example, maybe getting an A will give you a higher GPA and you’ll graduate with better chances at a great first job.
Motivation is largely about mindset—deciding to have the desire to do something. And it all starts with the goals you set. Research has proven that setting these specific, challenging, and important-to-you goals will actually produce greater interest in the tasks related to those goals (Locke & Latham, 2002).