This post has been a long time coming, but I have been putting it off because it’s such a complex topic. The number one most common question I get asked is how I stay motivated, whether that’s in terms of school, blogging, or whatever else. I always struggle with this question because there are multiple ways to answer this. On one hand, I think my own sense of motivation to work hard comes from values that I grew up with. I don’t believe that you can ‘teach’ someone motivation.
On the other hand, I DO think there is a discussion to be had on how people respond to internal and external expectations. An internal expectation is something like a resolution you set for yourself on New Years- a personal goal that maybe only you know about. An external expectation is something like a project deadline or doing something you promised a friend. Some people are better at fulfilling one sort of expectation than the other. This quiz is a really good way to sort out which type of person you are, and to reflect on what sort of systems you should set up in order to accomplish your goals. For example, if you are someone who is better at meeting external expectations than internal expectations, you may find success in creating systems of accountability to others (e.g. having a gym buddy, studying in the library with friends, etc.). I highly recommend taking the quiz and reading about what strategies would be impactful for you personally. When writing this post, I was originally thinking of sharing things that help me stay motivated. After thinking about it, though, I don’t think that would necessarily be helpful since everyone is different in the way they respond to internal and external expectations. Taking the quiz is and reading about the strategies they suggest to someone with your personality type would be much more helpful than anything I can suggest.
Reflecting on how you respond to expectations is only part of what motivation is, though. As I said above, I don’t think that you can teach someone to be motivated- it’s almost just a personality trait. That said, even for someone that IS highly motivated, being productive each day isn’t easy. It’s still effortful. Even motivated people would rather be watching Netflix than going to the gym or studying. Also, aside from a depressive disorder, I can’t understand why someone wouldn’t be motivated to do things that would improve his/her life. If you objectively know that doing certain things is important for your life and future but still don’t want to do them, I’d recommend seeking help from a licensed therapist. I do think it’s worth talking through whatever is preventing you from being motivated, and that can sometimes require professional help. Most universities offer counseling and therapy services to students, so seek this out if lack of motivation is something that is really hindering your life. And again, if you haven’t taken the quiz I linked above, do it!