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Dealing with motivation

Do you have a lack of motivation? A lack of motivation can get in the way of your studies considerably. How do you get there, and more importantly, how do you get rid of it?
What is it? 

Motivation is about your will to drive you to certain behaviour. Actually, you only become aware of your motivation when you 'lose' it. Very inconvenient during your studies! Losing your motivation can involve several factors. Very generally speaking, there is often too much pressure (tension) or too little pressure (tension) to do something. This pressure (tension) can come from within or outside yourself. 

A few examples can help clarify this:  

  • You have a deadline for your essay tomorrow, but are nowhere near enough, because you want to do it perfectly. In this example, the pressure is clearly too high and has arisen internally because of the high bar you have created for yourself. It is difficult to start something that has to meet such high standards (loss of motivation). Then the pressure has also become external, because your teacher expects the essay tomorrow. It becomes an unachievable goal, 'there's no point anyway' you tell yourself, and your motivation has dropped to zero.
  • Another example is the assignment due in six months. 'I still have plenty of time, I'll start next week,' you tell yourself. Again, it is difficult to start, because the pressure both from yourself, and from outside, is very low. So low, in fact, that it is difficult to motivate yourself.

In these examples, you can also see how loss of motivation leads to procrastination. 


We also distinguish between intrinsic motivation (you want it yourself) and extrinsic motivation (the other person wants it from you). In general, intrinsic motivation is the strongest that leads to the desired behaviour. A good example of this is quitting smoking, which requires a lot of discipline and willpower. If you have made up your mind that you really don't want to smoke anymore, you often succeed better than if you decided to quit because your partner wants you to. 


What can you do yourself? 

What can help is to ask yourself: "Do I really want it, and why?". With that first question, you can determine whether your motivation is intrinsic or extrinsic. With the 'Why?' question, and feel free to ask it several times, you can find out what the main (missing) driver behind your motivation is. 

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