I think speaker and author Jim Rohn said it best when he said, “There’s only one type of motivation and that’s self motivation.” I know that may disappoint a lot of my students and loyal listeners, since, as a professional speaker, I’m paid to motivate students, staff, and managers. However, in actuality, all I’m really trying to do when I speak (or write) is to communicate something that might possibly get you to motivate yourself.

Let’s face it, people do things for their own reasons and motives, no one else’s. But the key to self motivation is learning how other people do it. Therefore, I’ve listed as many ideas, techniques, tricks, and gimmicks that I’ve heard other students use (including a few of my own) to motivate themselves to “get started,” with the hopes that at least one idea will inspire you to do the same. Good luck.

Write or type up a paragraph of why it’s so important for you to succeed in college. Make it specific, measurable, visual, meaningful, critical to your well-being, and very personal. Then make several copies and put one in every notebook you own so you can see it. Read it every day in class before the professor arrives.

Reward yourself (something desirable) every time you’re able to study for 15 minutes straight without interruption (i.e., phone call, daydreaming, etc.). If you do allow yourself to be interrupted, you must now study for 30 minutes straight (without interruption) before you can receive a reward. Keep adding 15 minutes every time you allow yourself to be interrupted.

Every time you read a page in your textbook, imagine someone paying you a $1. Now imagine yourself needing “X” number of dollars for something you really want to buy. Stop reading when you feel you’ve earned enough to make the purchase.

Whenever you feel overwhelmed by the amount of material you have to read or study, focus only on one subheading or small section, and then read it like it’s the only thing that your professor is going to test you on. After you’re done, try reading another section the exact same way.

When you go to class, look for the oldest student in your class and remind yourself that if he or she can return to college after all of these years and do well, so can you.

Just before you’re ready to blow off studying, not begin an assignment, not read a necessary chapter, or just give up, imagine your worst enemy telling you that he or she knew you weren’t going to make it because you’re a quitter. Now, ask yourself, “What are you going to do about it?”

Imagine the worst job you’ve ever had in your life. Think about that job when every day seemed like a Monday, and you worked for a boss who gave you nightmares. Now imagine working that job forever if you don’t take college seriously.

Attend your college’s next honors’ convocation (a ceremony for all the students who made the Dean’s and President’s List). Then ask yourself, “Are they just better than I am?” If not, then prove it.

Regardless of your grades, pretend you’re failing every course, and you have to show God your report card at the end of the semester. Hint: He doesn’t accept excuses.

Pretend you are a Rhode Scholar or National Merit Scholar winner; now study, read, write, and test like you’re one.

The next time you’re assigned a class paper, whatever deadline date the professor gives, write down a date that is nine days earlier (and forget the actual date). From that point on, don’t ask anyone (including the professor) about the due date. If the due date is written in the syllabus, mark over it with a black marker until it’s illegible.

Whenever possible, right after class, stay in your seat when class is dismissed and start studying or writing a paper for another class for at least 30 minutes. This goes with the saying of “strike while the iron is hot.”

Go visit your dream job or dream company and ask for some of their brochures, pamphlets, and other marketing materials. Then cut out the pictures and place them on your refrigerator, bulletin board, mirror, notebook, etc., so you’ll think twice about being lazy or procrastinating.

During the semester break and/or the weekends, try to get yourself to get up in the morning as if you had an 8 a.m. class. Although painful, this will help you stay disciplined even when you don’t have to. Success can be habit forming, but so can laziness.

Before you go home for the day, call your answering machine as if you were calling to speak to yourself, and leave the following message:

“Hey (say your name), I just called to remind you to get off your butt and start studying (write paper, read, etc.). Now, I don’t want to hear any excuses from you. Remember, winners don’t whine, and whiners don’t win.”

Regardless of how much you have to study or read, only give yourself 30 minutes to complete all of it (set a timer). Now do whatever it takes to get your studying or reading done. After you’re done, congratulate yourself and try it again.

The next time you feel unmotivated, go to the student union or wherever other unmotivated students on your campus hang out and ask yourself, “Do I want to be like them?” If not, then ask yourself, “Why am I wasting my time like they are?”

Before you think about doing something that distracts you from school work, like making a telephone call, going to the gym, hanging with friends, going to the club or to a party, or whatever, get yourself to do something school-related first for 10 minutes (i.e., study, start a paper, read a chapter).

At the end of each school day, write down five good things that happened to you that are directly related to your progress in college.

Go out and buy a class ring with your anticipated graduation year engraved on it. Start wearing it and showing it to others.

When you make your next “To Do” list, start with two things you’ve already done, so you can cross them off the list immediately. This will give you a psychological edge.

Get a copy of your college Alumni newspaper or magazine and read about the accomplishments and achievements of past graduates. Start thinking about what you would want other undergraduates to read about you after you graduate.

Start writing a “Not To Do” list of things and activities you want to eliminate from your life (as a student) and give a copy of this list to your closest friends (especially your roommate). Ask them to help you “not” do those things.

Come up with one question a day for each of your professors as it relates to the subject matter or test. That means you must read or review something BEFORE you go to class in order to ask an intelligent question.

Pray to God every morning for energy, strength, persistence, and motivation to do the things you know you must do.

I hope that at least one of these ideas might help you get and stay self-motivated. Please share these ideas with a friend. Also, if you have any clever tricks and gimmicks of your own that you use to motivate yourself, please share them with us.

Thank you for visiting RealWorld University, where success is the only major! Please drop by again. God bless and live purposefully!

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