General Question

nerevars's avatar

How you motivate (or find a motivation) yourself?

Asked by nerevars (221points) October 21st, 2013

It’s just that all of my friends in class are always turning in their assignments on time and do more than they were required to do. I don’t understand; they don’t even question the dumb and pointless assignment and are happy to be obliged to do it. If you’re going to say that I’m just lazy, well that’s why I want to know how to motivate myself.

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27 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Nope, not going to say you are lazy. More than likely you are exceptionally bright, and simply don’t do rote programming well. Those of higher intelligence often question everything, much more so than your average or below average intellect.
Most very bright people are non-conformist by nature, but…doesn’t mean you don’t have to play the game if you want to graduate.

thorninmud's avatar

One big help is when you see that not doing the assignments ends up causing much more (and longer lasting) hardship than just doing them.

I still vividly remember 5th grade for this reason. We had an English workbook (a collection of written exercises) that we were supposed to complete independently through the year, a certain number of pages per month. Each month, the teacher would collect them, mark them up and return them.

Well, I absolutely hated doing those, so I just couldn’t make myself do them. I never got past page 3. Every time I knew that they were to be collected, I managed to be sick, or to make some other lame excuse. The teacher kept telling the class that we couldn’t advance to the next grade if the workbooks weren’t finished by the end of the year.

This all ended up causing me enormous stress. There was the whole business of coming up with lies and excuses, and of course the further we got in the year, the further I got behind and the more unbearable the thought of catching up became.

By some miracle, I made it all the way to year’s end without ever actually having to turn the book in. But I was still sure that there was no way I’d ever be passed to 6th grade without having produced it. The last day of class, when we got our final report cards, was one of the most stressful days of my life. I was miserable, sure I had failed.

I didn’t (it probably helped that the teacher knew I was a smart kid anyway), but I recognized that no matter how much I hated doing those stupid exercises, I would have suffered far less if I had just made myself do them.

That’s a lesson I’ve had to keep learning, actually. Now I usually see that tasks often look like they’re going to be more unpleasant than they actually turn out to be. Once you stop dreading them and actually get involved, you realize it wasn’t such a big deal after all.

ninjacolin's avatar

I shared your attitude until Highschool. In highschool I really started to see a future that I was keenly interested in for myself. More importantly I saw a pathway to get to that goal by using the public school system to get there. For me, I wanted to be a video game developer. Getting there meant some specific courses, some specific tests. But until I knew this end goal, what the hell was the point of all those endless tests and stuff? Felt just like a bunch of chores and torture. Realizing what I wanted to do, however, changed a lot. I knew that I wanted to program and I knew that I wanted to do a good job of programming. So, I looked up the university courses that interested me since I would need those university courses to fulfill my dream of being a video game developer.

Turned out it was going to be a long road of my worst subject: Math. Fuck math. But seriously, that was what I had to do.. and not just easy general math either.. big boy math. :( So, that sucked. It was a mountain that I had to hurdle and then stab and then decapitate and then ship off to it’s family members. So, I did. I bugged the hell out of every teacher who I had to in order to get the grade I needed to get to university. I had teachers telling me I wouldn’t understand the math I was interested in because I didn’t pay enough attention in earlier years. But I passed their damn courses anyway because they were in the way of what I wanted to do. So I smashed ‘em! Passing the teacher’s courses and tests wasn’t about them or my parents or what anyone else wanted for me. It was about me and my personal desires for my own life.

I would later find out that all those dumb-seeming basic details that those stupid teachers were trying to shove down my throat were actually the simplest most basic things I could ever hope to know in order to accomplish far more advanced, fun, apparently-useful, amazing and globally destructive things in the future.

Basics are boring until you realize just how complicated things can get. The complex stuff is far more fun but you can’t possibly get into the fun stuff without a grasp of those basics. Master those basics and the rest of your life truly becomes easier and more fulfilling.. Why? Because you can do so much more when you’re beyond the basics. But you can’t get beyond the basics without doing the basics. You have to do those basics and do them well.

Now, when it comes to “other students in class” who seem to have no trouble with motivation, often times it’s because they have a goal in mind. Something they’re aiming for. (Keep in mind, sometimes these goals are subconscious, so don’t expect every student to have a straight answer for you.)

What’s your goal? Whatever it is, school is a tool that can help you accomplish whatever you want. Absolutely anything. So, firstly it’s a matter of employing that tool for your purposes. Secondly, and equally as importantly, it’s a matter of trusting those people to do their job and provide you with all the basics you need to get your life plan off the ground. If they inform you that you need to pass test XYZ in order to get to your goal then trust them and kill that test.

But don’t start with the second one.. start with the first: What is your goal and then ask how can school make that goal more realistic for you? How can you get those teachers to help you with that goal?

/rant (sorry this is so long, ha)

tom_g's avatar

@thorninmud – great answer.

I’ll just add that “they don’t even question the dumb and pointless assignment and are happy to be obliged to do it” is a red flag. In my experience, we are not very good at determining which assignments are beneficial, and those which will not serve to further your learning. Some of the assignments may be “dumb and pointless”, but you are likely not in a position to identify those.

So, in order to get a formal education you’ll need to play the game. That is, buy into the fact that you’ll do all assignments with full effort, with only the hope that some day you may be able to look back and evaluate those things which were helpful and those that simply wasted your time.

longgone's avatar

I won’t get into why it make sense to learn how to motivate yourself, since that has been answered. Even if you really want to be motivated, though, it can be hard to sit down at your desk instead of doing whatever you want to do right then. There are four things which help(ed) me:

1. I treat myself. Before starting unpleasant tasks, I think about what I will do afterwards, but only afterwards. A relaxing bath, the cinema, a good book, a cup of hot cocoa – all those are great motivators.

2. Playing pretend. I know, that sounds weird – but if I absolutely can’t bring myself to study, I just pretend it is vital for me to do so.

3. Music. If music helps you study, you can even make different playlists for different subjects. I find that helps a lot. Someday, just the playlist will get you into the mood for maths.

4. Self-discipline. Some people seem to be born with it, but it is also something you can learn. Try training yourself. Walk past something you want once in a while, and don’t buy it. Go into a supermarket and walk out again without spending money. Take a chocolate bar to school and consciously decide not to eat it until you get back home.

Don’t be too hard on yourself, though. It is important not to stress yourself. Being laid-back like you seem to be is a good thing. It may keep you from having a stroke, and questioning is perfectly fine. Nevertheless, self-motivation will make your life easier and more fun in the long run. Instead of questioning, get motivated, be successful, and change the world. Okay?

yankeetooter's avatar

I’ll add one more to @longgone‘s excellent list. (It’s similar to #1). Break it down into smaller tasks. Sometimes when I have an assignment (let’s say five questions) that I have to do, and I can’t get motivated, I reward myself after doing one section…or even just go and do a different household task. By subdividing my “chores”, including homework, somehow nothing seems daunting enough to keep me from doing it.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Hahah welcome to my current hell. I get B’s-C’s grades in school because I skip class so often and attendance is mandatory. I skip class so often because the classes are so incredibly easy and anything I don’t understand I can teach myself in a couple minutes online. It leads me to being incredibly unmotivated to do homework assignments because I view them as a waste of time. Come test day though I very rarely get anything less than an A. This only forms a positive feedback loop for me. “Hey, I skipped 2 classes this week and got an A on the quiz…. maybe I’ll skip a bit more next week” and so it goes.

Coloma's avatar

@uberbatman Meh..I bet your an ENTP personality, we are known to lack discipline, however, we are also incredibly bright and usually ace things at the last minute. We are kings and queens of improv. and count on coming through in the end, which we almost always do, on the fly, but not compromising quality either.
If you’re getting A’s that proves you know you can rally in the end.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Coloma Even worse, I’m INTP with some INTJ traits.

Coloma's avatar

@uberbatman Heh..I almost said I/E ntp…perfect! lol

LostInParadise's avatar

Understand that doing school work means sacrificing a portion of your time, life’s most valuable commodity. Set aside a certain amount of time per day for school work. It helps to have a specific time of day so that you can get into a rhythm. Start off small, 20 or 30 minutes at a shot. Consistency is more important than duration. It is easier to vary duration once you set up a pattern. You will no doubt feel a lot of resistance at first. That is okay. Relax. Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that you only have to do this for a short while. Try it for a week and determine if you can stick to the plan.

nerevars's avatar

@Coloma Well, I had an IQ test in Highschool (which is several years ago) and I’m sure proud of the result. It just that I can’t find any reason or benefit from doing what they’re told me to do that numb me from feeling guilty not doing it.

Just like @uberbatman experienced, I was in a point where I’m questioning my own intelligence because all I got from most of my class B/C, so I was doing a test to a class that I like that I will give it all and I got straight A. From that, I conclude that I can do anything as long as I like/motivated to do it from the beginning. Which is why I asked it here.

PPS: Sorry for my English, it’s not my first language.

longgone's avatar

@yankeetooter Good point, that is another thing I do.

nerevars's avatar

@ninjacolin Few years ago, I started to ask myself “Why am I here?”, “Why am I born?” “What is my purpose or goal?”, “Is there any meaning about all this?”, “If I die, does anyone will remember me?” etc etc. I kept asking that to myself that paralyze me from doing anything. I just live to survive.
But, just a few a months ago, I found my passion and what I want to be then I realize I am in a middle of college which major doesn’t has anything to do with it. And makes me ask how to get you motivated.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@nerevars I’m happy you found something you’re passionate for, that will make things somewhat easier but not always. For example with me, I’m very passionate about marine biology so I spend a good bit of my free time reading about it. Since I’m doing this on my own it only exacerbates my issues with school. Instead of knowing a bit more in class and finding them boring, in my marine bio classes I know loads more than the other students. It really drives home that “I’m just here for a friggin piece of paper” mentality.

nerevars's avatar

@uberbatman it kinda is like that. I’m here just to get certificate that I have the same mindset, knowledge, way of thinking etc with other students. It really frustrate me that our brain/idea is determined by a piece of paper rather than our physical work or behavior and what’s written on that piece of paper is depend on our performance when taking tests.

It scared me that the value of a man is given by other man with a piece of paper with ink on it.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@nerevars Yea it’s really frustrating when you realize you know enough about your field to make a career out of it but can’t because you don’t have said piece of paper and that it’s really all about money. Rank up massive school loans so that you really HAVE to work to pay them off for the next 20–30 years. Yay indentured servitude :P

ninjacolin's avatar

Fortunately for you, @nerevars, you’re completely wrong about all that stuff.

What you need to realize is school is a grueling process to learn how to do a particular job fairly well. But those jobs which each school path represents are not the ONLY kinds of gainful employment available. This is a little tricky to explain but let’s start here.

Okay, first thing you should know is that I’m not a game developer today. I never did become one after all that. Why? I dunno, I just fell out of love with video games somewhere around age 22. What really happened was while I was in University, I learned a bunch of skills that I could apply towards marketing. I saw an opportunity, dropped out of University and started a company in marketing which I run today. In this company of mine, guess who I seek to hire? .. go on, guess!!... University Students! Yay! Why? Because they are trained to do the jobs that I need them to do.

Going back to that link.. think about who those dropouts are. They are people who, just like me, hire university students. They are the people who students are in school to work for. They determine what the schools will teach. Schools are technically employee farms!

When you look at those drop outs.. it wasn’t any sheet of paper that made them who they are.. it was their personal level of creativity and innovation that got them ultimately to where they are. If you DON’T have the innovative capabilities and resourcefulness to be such an innovator, that’s fine, you can make a bunch of money by working for one. All you have to do is take a few courses that help you learn how to work for an innovator well and you can contribute to society from that vantage point. You can also save enough money while working for an innovator to fund an innovative idea yourself down the line. Once you are an innovator, you too can begin to use schools as farms to grow your own force of skilled workers. Every big company out there (including government) uses schools as employee farms for their innovations. That’s what they are for.

But the thing to realize is that what schools offer is limited by whatever innovator/industry is currently out there. So, the courses you’re taking are offered because someone essentially asked the schools to train such people. Meaning, there is a demand for that kind of talent. If you have a better idea that you would rather being doing and which you could potentially use people for then you have to innovate that business or industry yourself. In some time, if your ideas are very successful, you too can influence what kind of talent is farmed by universities.

The point is: there is no limit to who may become the next innovator. You’re missing the whole point if you think for even a second that you’re not allowed to invent the next super cool way of making money or the next super cool lifestyle habit. If you are ready with an idea that can help yourself and/or help others by providing gainful employment.. then drop out of school right now and get to work on it! That’s what is expected of you. That’s what so many innovators do.

For those who don’t have the chance to be as innovative as you, please provide gainful employment and means for others to create and save money and/or a means for these people to innovate on the side while they assist you in your dreams.

Re: testing and certification
testing is just a way to make sure people really do know how to do what you need them to do to make your ideas (as an innovator) successful. Do you really want just any random person to call themselves a surgeon? Do you really want just anyone to be your accountant? Or do you want someone who can prove themselves?

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nerevars's avatar

@ninjacolin I know about all that. I know that academic is critical thing for success at this time.

What I questioning about is the motivation. How can they “just doing that”. Just want to do well in live. And I think this is because I’m in my quarter life crisis, I kept thinking “Is that all in life is about?” I mean are do we really do it because ourselves or because someone or society told us to do it? Then why can’t I just let my body do all of that and let my soul sleep.

I think I’m questioning this is because I always do what my parents said to me and I just realized I’m in the wrong track of my life. I feel lost and confused and depressed.

ninjacolin's avatar

well, you’re going to be dead soon, nerevars.
How will you spend your time until then?

I mean, same goes for me if you dare to think about it: Soon, I will be dead. It could take a few decades or it could be tomorrow. No one knows when it will happen. While I wait, what would you have me do with my life, @nerevars? What would constitute a “good” use of my time?

nerevars's avatar

That’s what in my mind the whole time. Every body are gonna die soon or later, but what makes me difference from other organism if I live just to fulfill my body’s demands?

I think I just have existential crisis. I mean, what makes you go on if nothing makes you happy?
And when you found one, everyone surround them doesn’t want you to do it… to be happy. Then what does one life purpose if it doesn’t do its purpose?

ninjacolin's avatar

So many things I want to ask you but.. I notice you haven’t yet answered my question. And I guess I asked it a few posts ago. so I’m just going to ask you again..

What do you want to do with your life?

nerevars's avatar

@ninjacollin I just want to be happy, I guess.

ninjacolin's avatar

The term “happy” lacks explanatory power. It says nothing at all about what you want to do with your life.

nerevars's avatar

@ninjacolin The problem is, I still don’t know what to do with my life.

ninjacolin's avatar

Glad to hear it. :) That’s a fresh place to start. I really think figuring out some basics can help give you some clarity. Figuring out that “happiness” isn’t really worthwhile goal was one point of clarity for me. But there are more.

I think the next important question to figure out for yourself is.. that thing you refer to as “my life”.. what is that thing? How do you define that thing exactly?

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