One of the biggest challenges (next to procrastination) I hear from most students across the country, including my own, is the concern that it’s getting harder and harder to stay motivated in college. I’m sure you’ve heard some of the complaints, “College is so boring; my professor is so boring; I don’t see how this stuff is going to help me in the ‘real world’; do I really need a college degree to succeed?” The list goes on and on.

I hope you will find comfort in the fact that almost every student goes through this phase, even the ones you think don’t have a problem at all getting and staying motivated. Remember, as a college professor, I’ve talked to thousands of students; they tell me things they would never confess to you. But I digress.

Anyway, are you tired of motivation that lasts for only one school year, only one semester, or for some of you, only one test? Are you tired of being “motivationally challenged”? Well, here’s something you can do to re-kindle that passion in your life. Now, don’t get me wrong, this won’t make you enjoy college any better (hey, I’m not a miracle worker), but it will definitely help you stay motivated through the journey of academia. I talk about it extensively in my book, “Tricks of the Grade” (hint hint), but for now, I’ll give you the short course on motivation.

Before I outline some specific steps for you to take, there’s a couple of things you need to know about this thing called “motivation.”

First, no one can motivate you. Saying that won’t help my speaking career, but it’s the truth. There’s only type of motivation, and that’s “self motivation.” Other people may get us excited about doing things, but ultimately, we do things for our own reasons, not somebody else’s. Even when you were a child, your parents may have threatened you to do things, but you still had a choice whether or not to suffer the consequences. Hopefully you didn’t have to, but if you did, thank God you’re still living to talk about it and you’re not my mama’s child.

Second, the key to motivation is finding out what motivates you internally, not externally. Often times you hear people who are driven by money. That’s okay, but money doesn’t always last, and even if you achieve it, it won’t ever be enough. Eventually, you could end up ostracizing yourself from the people you love the most if money is the only thing that motivates you. As for college, if money does it for you, by all means, use it and change it after you graduate. Sometimes it’s better to be motivated for the wrong reasons than not to be motivated at all.

So here are five easy, but serious, steps you can take to get yourself out of that college rut and onto the college fast track to graduation:

1. Establish a strong, compelling, personal “WHY” for being in college.

This is the most important step in getting and staying motivated. Remember, there’s only one type of motivation and that’s self-motivation. There is no such thing as a right or wrong “WHY” (i.e., to attain a certain salary upon graduation); there are only strong and weak ones. Consider some of the following weak “WHYs” I’ve heard from students on why they’re in college:

“My mother made me go.”

“I was expected to go.”

“My dad said that it was either this or get a job.”

“I couldn’t think of anything else better to do, so I decided to try the college thing.”

“I wanted to be with my friends so we could pledge together.”

“I’m here so I can figure out what I want to do with my life.”

“Man, I’m here to meet the babes.”

Also, understand that “to get a degree or to graduate” can be considered a weak why because almost everybody is in college to graduate. You need a why that is strong enough to help you endure boring classes, boring professors, irrelevant courses, unfair professors, being broke, confusing tests, etc. If your why doesn’t give you the extra push to endure these things, even if you get motivated, you won’t stay motivated. Trust me, I know.

2. Write or type out your “WHY STATEMENT.”

If it’s not written down, it’s not real. This might be the most important assignment you’ll ever do in college.

3. Test your why statement by asking yourself these three questions:

Am I willing to do whatever it takes to make this a reality? Am I willing to pay the price with blood, sweat, and tears to graduate?

Am I willing to take the garbage that comes along with the college experience?

If you want to, you can E-mail me your why statement, and I will give you suggestions and tips on making it stronger and more compelling.

4. Ask yourself, did I answer the previous three questions honestly and blamelessly? (If no, find another “why.”)

5. Put your why statement in a place (your notebook) that you can read it at least once a week (preferably Mondays). The key to motivation is finding, accepting, and pursuing a strong purpose for doing what you’re doing. If you’re uncertain on why you’re doing a task, your commitment to that task will also be uncertain. You get motivated by determining your reason for a degree; you stay motivated by committing to that reason.

Want more help? Continue to stop by RealWorld University because we will offer even more information and insights on this topic and others. We’ll bring you information, ideas, and strategies from some of the world’s leading experts in the field. We believe that experience may be a good teacher, but other people’s experience is a better teacher. Our motto at RWU is, “The key to wisdom is knowing where to look for the answers.” Thanks for dropping by RealWorld University. Come back soon, and tell a friend. Remember to live purposefully.

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