Your motivation for everything depends on the value you place on the task. The more highly you value completing a task, the more motivated you will be. Difficulties arise when confronted with a task that you do not place a natural value on. Motivating yourself for these tasks can take a little work, but you can find ways to increase your motivation for almost any task.
Before looking at strategies for increasing your motivation, it will be helpful to understand the different ways that people place a value on completing a task:
Every class is useful.
The more you feel that a class or assignment will be useful, the higher value you will place on completing the work for that class. If you do not recognize a use for the class, then you will find it difficult to motivate yourself. Each class you take should be useful to you in some way. Maybe it is simply because you have to take it for your major or it is a prerequisite for a class that you want to take. Maybe you feel like you need to improve your writing skills. A writing intensive class will then have a higher value for you. If you identify the usefulness, you will be more likely to motivate yourself.
Discover your motivation.
Getting good grades is the most obvious extrinsic reason for placing a high value on completing a task. Any reason that lies outside the task itself can help motivate you. You might be trying to gain the approval of peers or mentors, earn awards and honors, or earn high grades. Many college students are motivated by the desire to get a good GPA. It can be a fine line, however, between using your GPA as motivation and obsessing about it to the point where anxiety begins to creep in or you are not focused on learning the material. You are best off if you use your GPA as general motivation for doing well without building your motivation for each class on it.
Don't ignore your own personal interest.
This occurs when you place a high value on completing a task because you have a natural interest in it. Completing the next level on your favorite video game, for example, holds a high intrinsic value for you. You might also find some classes that you take to be so interesting that you do not mind completing the reading and work for the class. With these tasks, you do not have to work to motivate yourself. As a child you might have been fascinated with the way things fit together or with trying to understand why people acted the way they did. This knowledge of your natural interests can help you choose the classes for which you will not struggle to motivate yourself.
Keep an open mind.
Sometimes new interests will arise out of your experiences. A particular book, class, or professor might lead you to look at things differently from before. While it is possible that you will develop a new intrinsic interest out of an experience, these situational interests are often temporary. If you are fascinated with a particular book, your willingness to work hard might not last beyond finishing the book. If you enjoy a particular professor, your interest in the subject might not last beyond the class. Use each of these experiences to choose classes in the future. Did you find that the methods for analyzing images in your History of Art class made it easy to motivate yourself to go to class and do the homework- Then look for classes in other departments that focus on analyzing images.
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