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What to do after losing motivation in grad school?
Whether it be two months into grad school, one year or almost done your thesis, we all reach a point where we lose motivation.
Looking back at how wide-eyed and excited I was at the beginning of September (almost as if I have never experienced grad school or school for that matter), I realize I am not at that place anymore. I’m tired, there is not enough time in a day and find myself getting distracted more easily (cough – wedding planning). I am left wondering, how can I get myself back to that place of motivation, inspiration, and zeal after experiencing tireless days of reading, assignments, stress, and anxiety and those days that still await?
I am going to share five steps that you can take in order to get your motivation back or at least scrounge up a bit to get through midterms and finish your assignment that is due. But before I get into the steps, there are two truths that you need to hear:
Losing motivation does not = failure
Just because you are not as motivated as you once were, does not mean you are failing. It is part of the journey, everyone experiences this!
Taking time to rest is not going to set you back
Do not feel guilting resting or taking a break. You should be doing this on a daily basis, many times a day. Time management can be difficult for new grads. Taking a rest or a break is equally important as reading your article. Shift your thinking to understand that it is actually part of your job as a student. So when your schedule in time to read your articles or write your assignments, also schedule in this time for walks, exercise, and rest – and don’t feel guilty – it is required!
Now here are the five steps:
Step 1: Walk away
If you are feeling ‘stuck’, experiencing negativity or find that things are taking longer then normal; stand up and walk away. I don’t care if you have something due the next day, go exercise, practice meditation, head to yoga, grab a coffee, go for a walk in nature – all of these things only take 15 mins – 1 hour out of your day. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do, but you need to get up and walk away from your study area.
Step 2: Check in with yourself
It’s time for a check in – sometimes we can get so caught up in our to-do lists, that we forget to prioritize ourselves. So take a moment to make sure you are prioritizing your physical and mental health, cooking fresh food and sleeping well.
Step 3: Check in with others
After walking away from your work and checking in with yourself, it can still be difficult to get out the narrative that you have been playing in your head (over and over again). This is why it is important to make time to also check in with friends and partners. But most importantly, check in with colleagues, they are the ones who are going to be able to understand what you are going through and are able to relate more to what you are feeling.
Step 4: Look at your goals and break them down
Looking at the big picture is important. Remind yourself why did you choose to go to school in the first place? And where this journey is going to take you to after. Taking a look at the bigger picture then allows you to break down this big goal into smaller goals. i.e. making it through this first semester. So break these goals down, as small as you need to and keep your eyes on the prize.
Step 5: Find inspiration
We never make enough time for inspiration, creativity or play but it’s so important. No, I don’t mean go watch TV or out for drinks with your friends. Take time to truly nourish your soul. Those things that make your heart feel something. For me, sometimes it’s just a 10-minute video from Danielle Laporte, Michael Beckwith or Gabrielle Berstein. Other times, it’s writing blog posts like these that I know will help other students. So whatever it is for you – reading something other than academic articles, painting, writing poetry, or perhaps even watching an inspiring documentary, do something you’re passionate about and it will spark your passion for your studies again.
What helps you rekindle your motivation and love of learning again?
Stay motivated friends!
Until next time,
P.S Don’t forget to use #ScholarCulture #ScholarSquad to keep me updated on your experiences as grad students.
P.P.S Applying to grad school for the 2018/19 school year? Check out this FREE eBook on 5 steps to a successful grad school application.