How To Get Motivated And Stay Motivated This Year

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Ailsa gives you some top tips for entering this academic year with enthusiasm and keeping that momentum going.

New school year, new start but same old school. It can be hard to get motivated for another year in education and it can be even harder to keep that motivation going through till July. Even I, one of my year’s top dorks, got fed up sometimes, but I learned a lot about how to motivate myself when teachers were lacking in enthusiasm, or just when I straight up didn’t want to be there. Here are my tips to help get you through with energy.

  1. 1. Try Not To Compare Yourself To Others

Instead, if you’re feeling disheartened, take some time out to reflect on what you’ve learned in the past year. Think about what you’ve achieved. It’s very easy to look at others –particularly through the lens of social media– and think you’re falling behind. But try and remember that you never see all of another person.  Every little thing you do is an achievement. You don’t need grades to tell you you achieved. You don’t need to write that whole essay to have done something: writing the introduction alone is great. You’re getting there. Break things down into smaller, more achievable tasks so you don’t get disheartened.

credit: creativity103.com

So shiny! So gold! Credit: creativity103.com

2. Star Charts

I know, I know, maybe you weren’t as much of a nerd as I was (and, let’s face it, still am). But honestly, star charts still help me. And they’re even better when you get to give yourself the sticker. In my last flat we didn’t have a toaster and I consistently burnt my toast every day despite others’ insistence that I am somehow an ‘adult’ (what is this world of which you speak?). Having had to, yet again, feed the bin my dinner (see aforementioned ‘adult’ status) I decided to make a star chart for myself. It worked wonders.

3. Keep A Gratitude Journal

It’s well researched that writing down a few things every day that you are grateful for can improve your wellbeing by decreasing stress and making you happier and healthier. It sounds cheesy because it is but what have you got to lose? Try getting a notebook and set yourself the challenge of writing five things you’re grateful for at the end of everyday. You might find you want to write more –that’s great. You don’t need to write something huge for each point: it can be that you enjoyed breakfast this morning, or that it was sunny. Anything is good.

Just think how much colour and energy you could inject into your school life with this stationary! Credit: Petr Kratochvil

Just think how much colour and energy you could inject into your school life with this stationary! Credit: Petr Kratochvil

4. Buy New Stationary

Speaking of notebooks, new stationary is always a joy. Reworking your wardrobe can cost a lot, but spending on a few new pens and pencils every so often is much less likely to eat away at your money. I appreciate that not everyone is as much of a stationery freak as me, but having writing instruments that you love and look forwards to using can make a big difference when it comes to getting work done.

5. Make Yourself A Motivational Playlist

Music can work wonders on people and there are plenty of ready made motivational playlists on the internet. But I do think that you know best what tunes get you going and happy in the morning. Some of my fave tunes for when I’m not really feeling jumping out of bed and running at life are ‘Grown Woman’ (Beyoncé), ‘Barbarella’ (The Bongos) and ‘Alive’ (Goldfrapp) (extra points for the absurdly wonderful video). You could even (if you have an ipod or similar contraption) set up your motivational playlist as your alarm in the morning. They are also great pick-me-ups when you hit that afternoon slump or to take a break from studying.

6. Try Something New

You might be feeling stuck in school/college, impatient to be getting on with what you really want to do but what’s stopping you from doing that thing now? Is there a club you could join (inside or outwith school) that would help you develop your skills in an area that the curriculum doesn’t cater for? Have a Google. Or just make sure you put aside some time each week to focus on what you want to be doing. School is important but it’s also important to do the things you want to do and not push them to one side for the sake of grades. Your happiness is important.

7. Look After Your Mental Health

Speaking of happiness, you have mental health. Everyone has it. You don’t have to have a diagnosed illness or disorder in order to take time to look after your brain. There is a huge amount of pressure put on you from all sides when in education and that can take its toll. If you read through this thread on Twitter and find yourself identifying with a fair few of the points please talk to someone. You shouldn’t have to go through life feeling like this and with help things can get better. Even if you’re not feeling bad at the moment, it’s always practicing self-care. And if you think that means spending a load of cash monies on spa days, I’m here to tell you otherwise

Frederic Leighton's Cymon and Iphigenia

I guarantee that Iphigenia would have dealt with things a lot worse had she not got napping down. Credit: Frederic Leighton’s Cymon and Iphigenia

8. Get Enough Sleep

It’s obvious but important. Operating on too little sleep is not sustainable and will make you grumpier, more tired, hungrier and not nearly as chipper as you could be. I know sleep isn’t cool but it’s worth the loss of street cred. When you’re a teenager your brain is doing important growing and trimming stuff and you need that sleep. It’s hard to get enough with school five mornings every week but you could have a nap after school or even during school at lunch –you might find it reinvigorates you for the rest of your day and improves your week overall.

9. Pass On Your Knowledge

Try teaching younger students. Your school might already have a scheme set up, or have after school/lunchtime clubs. I helped out with younger students’ lower set maths classes in my final year at school after chatting to my teacher. If there aren’t any clubs you can always set one up: a friend and I set up a science club for younger students after talking to teaching staff and it was great fun and hugely rewarding. Teaching others can often deepen your own understanding of subjects as well as improving your students’. Having a shot at teaching can also give you a greater appreciation for your own teachers.

With this knowledge, go forth and soak in new knowledge. Remember that you and your happiness are the most important thing to look after. Good luck with this year!

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Struggling at school? Check out the Prince’s Trust and the great opportunities they have.