The Psychology of Motivation (part 2)

Two weeks ago we began exploring how to find motivation when it is lacking. We revisited and expanded on Dan Gilbert’s equation for expectation and value and discussed ways to find out what is blocking our much needed motivation to study for the EPPP.

 Once you find out what is blocking your motivation, you can take a step further to assess the cause of your lack of motivation. This step can leave you motivated to move forward with EPPP test prep.

Recognize Weakness and Assess the Problem

Understanding what it is that consistently steals your motivation to study for the EPPP can assist in taking steps to remove what stands in your way.

The Newnan Academic Advising Center at the University of Michigan published an article called How Can I get Motivated, expanding on the importance of recognizing the factors that keep motivation at bay. “Recognizing your weaknesses can lead you to addressing them.” So we must first assess when and where we experience a lack of motivation. Then, we must take an honest look into why we experience a lack of motivation during those times and in those places.

For instance, perhaps you study at home where you are constantly tempted to hang out with roommates instead of study, or perhaps you frequently waste time loitering in the kitchen. Maybe excuses have arose such as not having enough time to study. This is where you would look at the reason for your excuse. It might not be that you don’t have time to study, but, rather, that you spend your time doing other things. This is an example of an excuse that you can change. Taking this type of inventory enables us to assess where, when and why we lack motivation, and then do something about it. For example, if you like motivation when studying at home, then the solution is simply: change our place of study.

There are some excuses, though, that require a more honest assessment because they blame the unchangeable. For example, perhaps you have found yourself making the excuses of “I am just not smart enough” or “only a genius can pass this test.” How Can I get Motivated speaks to this:

 “Do not attribute outcomes to those things you cannot change. Lack of knowledge, lack of effort, or flawed study strategies are all things you can  change; your intelligence is not. Do not think that you are not smart enough, think about what you can do differently. Be honest in your assessment of the problem.   Did you really work as hard as you could, including keeping up with the course from the beginning of the semester? If you feel you have put in the maximum  effort, then maybe you need to change your study strategies. There is a point for  everyone where you really cannot work harder.”

The excuses that blame intelligence are somewhat of a trap due to the popular belief that intelligence is inherent. But there are learning strategies to make yourself smarter and the key to finding motivation amidst an excuse that blames your intelligence is re-approaching the way in which you learn.

Addressing your lack of motivation with honesty will allow you to discover what is actually blocking motivation and, therefore, allow you to move forward with motivation to study for the EPPP.

Set Short Term Goals

 Our recent post points out that you are the one who controls how much value to place upon a given task. The higher the value you place on a task, the more motivation you will have to do it. And the nearer in time the end goal is, the easier the goal is to reach. Therefore, setting short term goals within your study strategies will help you take steps toward your ultimate goal of passing the EPPP. Rewarding yourself after reaching your goals will compel you to continue reaching more goals; this is motivation.

Rewarding short term goals, though, should be done with honesty, just like assessing your lack of motivation. An easy behavior to succumb to is taking a shortcut and telling yourself that a short term goal is complete when, in actuality, it is not. For instance, perhaps you make a goal of studying for a complete 30 minutes before you allow yourself to eat dessert. A shortcut would be setting your timer for 30 minutes yet filling that time with frequent breaks to the kitchen or social media and then rewarding yourself regardless of how much you actually studied. If you want your short term goals to compel motivation, you must reward yourself honestly.

Further Reading

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