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LEARNING HACKS Hardly anything is as important for success as the right motivation. Because only those who really set themselves goals at school will improve in the long term. Here you can find out how to find the right motivation – especially for you.
Warning: I wrote most of this article during my exam phase. So don’t be surprised about some expressions that are specific to everyday school life.
Instead of writing this article, I should now – according to my long-term learning plan – study for the German exam in 10 days. But that still seems so far away to me. I also know that this is not the right attitude to find motivation. My motivation is felt to be at -273.15 °C, which is absolute zero. So is it a good idea to write this article or do I make everything worse by doing so?
Short term vs. long term motivation
You know short-term motivation, for example, from New Year’s Eve: good resolutions are usually kept for a few weeks before they are dropped because they have become too strenuous. They can help you achieve individual learning goals in the short term and – as the name suggests – bring short-term success. These include learning videos that you watch two evenings before the history exam because you suddenly feel the panic of having to write at least an C. They are a good remedy against the no-good mood and can put you into a real history euphoria for 24 hours.
But when that fades away, you are back where you started: in the complete learning void. Maybe you won’t manage to learn this evening either and all your efforts were in vain. If this all-or-nothing learning attitude is too tiring (or too ineffective) for you in the long run, you better turn to the more recommended method of long-term motivation. For this you need a vision, a goal that you are working towards in the long run. Where do you want to go? What do you want to achieve in your life? Do you want to be a lifelong salesman in the Edeka store next door or an employee in an international IT company?
You can set yourself a target for your grades – maybe your parents will throw a party for you if your average is 2.2 or better. But make sure that you neither over- nor underchallenge yourself. Make sure you keep your grades in the subjects that are difficult for you, while you try to improve in the easier subjects. Do not be disappointed if your long-term motivation does not show immediate results. You know that what lasts long will be good. And until then, you have to be patient and persevere.
Granted – the word positivism is a neologism of my friend. But I think it hits the core of what I want to say quite well: You can’t change many tasks, but you can make them more pleasant with a positive attitude. Even if you have to write 3 pages for the German homework, look at it positively: This way you will at least learn the method for the next test right away and won’t get any stupid ideas during this time.
Use your positive energy also with regard to how you see yourself. If you already think that this assignment is crap and that you can’t do it anyway, chances are pretty high that this will happen. Instead, believe in yourself and prove to everyone that you can do the job. Mantras, e.g. small motivational sentences like “I’m clever! I am ambitious! I will write an A in English.” These may look pretty stupid at first glance, but if you read them every day, they will settle down in your subconscious and make you more self-confident.
Not every day is the same
Of course it is also certain that there are days when all attempts at motivation fail. You are and will not stay in the mood for school. That’s perfectly okay, but no excuse to drop everything on that day – nobody wants to lose the learning progress of a whole week in one day. There are also some small tips and tricks for this:
1. Change your daily routine: Even though I personally like to follow a fixed plan, sometimes it is necessary to break through the usual. Routine can quickly become boring and demotivates you even more. Instead, take longer breaks or incorporate short fun moments into your learning (e.g. a little video challenge where you try to rap what you’ve learned).
2. Reward yourself: Sweets make you happy and bring concentration spurts, which, if you use them correctly, can also help to boost your motivation.
3. Tomorrow is another day: Don’t try to push yourself too hard when nothing works anymore. Concentrate only on the essentials and delete everything from your learning plan that doesn’t necessarily have to be done today.
In fact, my idea to write this article has lifted my spirits a bit. In between I didn’t really feel like learning German, but I got the motivation to at least read it through. That this could be due to some kind of motivation transfer of my hobby to school is an interesting thought. But to be able to pursue this idea, I should probably first finish learning …
More tips and tricks
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How can I avoid distraction during learning?
How can I find motivation during the holidays?