12 Ways to Get Motivated and Get Started

change your attitude

1. Promise It: Set goals with someone to help you follow through! Involving others in your plans can help you hold each other accountable and take action.

2. Befriend Your Discomfort: Some things are unpleasant to start or complete. Let yourself experience feelings of discomfort but don’t let them take control. Try to figure out why you feel the way you do. Sometimes the best way to combat discomfort is to accept it and just work through it. The more you progress through a task that is unpleasant, the less discomfort it will cause the next time.

3. Change Your Mind and Your Body: Sit up straight instead of slouching in a chair or lying down. Replace thoughts like: “I can’t stand this” with thoughts like “I’ll feel great when this is over.” Focus on the outcomes!

4. Sweeten the Task: Change your surroundings to make an unpleasant task more enjoyable. If your room is messy or dark then go somewhere cleaner or brighter.

5. Talk about How Bad It Is: Taking it to the extreme will put things in perspective. Recognizing that this is not, in fact, “the worst thing you’ve ever had to do,” will let you see your discomfort realistically.


6. Turn Up the Pressure: Raise your stress level by pretending your due date for a paper or the date of your exam is sooner than it actually is. Doing this can move you into action. Take away the time for procrastination! Schedule an appt. with your professor to review a draft of your paper.

I can and I will image

7. Turn Down the Pressure: Break down huge projects into smaller tasks. Give yourself enough time to complete everything but don’t worry about accomplishing everything all at once.

8. Ask for Support: Make goals and ask others to help you reach those goals. Form study groups, find a friend to go to tutoring with you, or study with someone who shares your same goal. 

9. Adopt a Model: Watch people who are succeeding and model their behavior. Acting the part of an A student is one effective way to become an A student.

10. Compare the Payoffs to the Costs: Is there a way to get the most payoffs without a lot of costs? Find ways to maximize the payoffs and minimize the costs when managing your schedule. Comparing the costs and benefits of our behaviors can fuel motivation. We can choose new behaviors because they align with what we want the most.

11. Do It Later: Sometimes it’s effective to save a task for later. This type of postponement is not a lack of motivation but planning. When you choose to do something later, you can turn this decision into a promise. Make sure to set a specific date and time to complete the task and give yourself enough time to get it done!

12. Heed the Message: Sometimes a lack of motivation is a sign worth paying attention to. Lack of motivation can be a symptom of the wrong major or the wrong career path. If you cannot change your motivation, or don’t want to, then make a bigger change. If a task is important to you then you’ll find a way to accomplish it.

Adapted from:
Ellis, David B. Becoming a Master Student: Concise. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2009. 27-28.


Rachel Fox
Peer Coach
Class of 2019