Forms of motivation

Being motivated is one of the key requirements for success in your studies. While at times you might not feel like studying, if you can identify and focus on the forces that are driving your desire to succeed, you will be well along the path to being motivated.

There are several different forms of motivation: internal; external; positive; negative. Various combinations of these can be brought together to help you achieve in your studies. The  most successful form of motivation is both positive and internal.

  • Go to forms of motivations and reflect on how they relate to you
  • Make a list all the forces that will help you to be a successful student
  • Pin the finished list in a visible place

Internal Motivation

The desire to be a successful student can arise from within. Here are some examples.

  • I'm determined to get a good education
  • I'll have a secure future if I obtain a degree
  • My family will be impressed when I graduate
  • I'm sure to get promoted in the company quickly
  • I really enjoy learning new things
  • Studying is one of my most pleasant past-times
  • I can contribute to this profession

Do any of these apply to you? Can you identify the internal forces that will help to motivate you? Write these down on your list and pin them in a visible place.

External Motivation

Sometimes our desire to succeed is driven by external forces. Here are some examples:

  • My employer expects me to get a university degree before I get promoted
  • I'll be disappointing my mother and father if I don't succeed at university
  • All my friends have been to university
  • If I want a successful career then I have to obtain a degree
  • They will cut off my financial support if I don't succeed
  • The community elders want people who are well educated as future leaders

Do any of these apply to you? Can you identify the external forces that will help to motivate you? Write these down on your list and pin them in a visible place.

 Positive Motivation

Adopting a positive attitude towards the task of study will help to motivate you.

Enhancing that positive attitude is a matter of identifying those motivating forces that you enjoy and like. Here are some examples.

  • I want to learn and understand more about that topic
  • I have the ability to get a degree and I know I can do the work
  • A university qualification will be really helpful for my future
  • I enjoy studying new things
  • My future income will be much greater when I graduate
  • My results so far are okay but I can do better

Do any of these apply to you? Can you identify the positive forces that will help to motivate you? Write these down on your list and pin them in a visible place.

Negative Motivation

Sometimes a fear of failure or other negative consequences can motivate you to study.

These are stress-producing forces and should be minimized in favour of a positive attitude. Here are some examples.

  • My father will cut off my allowance if I don't study
  • My mother will be really disappointed if I drop out
  • If I fail my friends will think I'm stupid
  • I'll never get a better job without a degree
  • My girlfriend / boyfriend will be more qualified than I am

Do any of these apply to you? Can you identify the negative forces that will help to motivate you? Be aware of these forces but don't dwell on them and don't add them to your list. Focus instead on the positive, internal and external forces.

What Strategies Can I Use to Get Motivated for Study?

  • Recognise that 'the force is within you' and that the most effective motivating forces are  both internal and positive 
  • Construct a written list of all the positive, internal and external forces that will motivate you to study. Pin this list in a prominent place
  • If you are losing motivation in your degree because you are unsure of its relevance or career outcomes, then make an appointment with a Student Services career counsellor. If you feel that stress and problems are getting you down, then make an appointment with a personal counsellor
  • Identify your personal, long, medium and short-term goals.  Write these down. Ask yourself how these relate to the immediate study that you need to do now?
  • Look at your study environment.  Is it a comfortable place? Are there distractions? Change any environmental influences that are likely to hinder your study
  • Develop a realistic study timetable and strictly adhere to it. Always study when scheduled to do so.
  • Set goals for each study session. Set goals for each study session 
  • Read more about motivation

Motivation Links