Tag Archives | motivation

Rude Awakening – Rediscovering Motivation

Image by Chris Florence, Flickr

Image by Chris Florence, Flickr

There is no greater incentive to studying for finals than knowing that you will be embarking on a week-long cruise trip with your family as soon as you’re done. That’s why the minute I handed in my last exam, I was more than ready, and looking forward to doing nothing but sleeping, eating, and lying around by the pool and beaches with a good book. What I wasn’t expecting though, was a much-needed kick in the pants.

Fast-forward to the last night of the trip: we were all getting ready to head down for our final dinner at sea. Having met at my parents’ cabin as agreed upon beforehand, we managed to bump into the caretaker of their room. For the week of your stay, one of the cruise staff is assigned to your specific cabin, so it’s common to see them at least one or twice a day. Being the talkative and social people that they are, my parents quickly became friends with the staff member that took care of their room (unfortunately, I don’t remember his name, so he will henceforth be dubbed “Bob”).

From brief daily conversations, my parents found out that Bob had family in Jamaica whom he regularly sent his earnings to. He also alluded to the hardships that came with working on a cruise ship, broaching on topics of equality and fairness (to avoid controversy and any potential lawsuits that my meager student funds could never dream of affording, I will omit the name of the cruise line). Suffice it to say, Bob wasn’t exactly happy with his current situation, and planned to transfer to another cruise company soon.

That night happened to be the first and only time I had the chance to meet Bob during the whole trip, and I am very glad that I didn’t pass up the opportunity. We exchanged introductions before he went on to ask if I was in university, to which I affirmed. Pulling a clean towel from his cart, he casually asked if I was doing well. Here I hesitated, reflecting back on the less than stellar grades I had accumulated that past term (which could have possibly been a result of daydreams of the Bahamas rather than memorizations of novel motifs and essay topics). I couldn’t help but give an embarrassed smile and said that I was trying.

What he said next will stay with me for the rest of my life.

He stopped what he was doing, looked me dead in the eye, and used the most serious, somber tone I could ever remember hearing.

Don’t try. Do.

Now I know what you’re probably thinking: that’s something you find written in fancy typography, printed over a filtered landscape photo and posted on some hipster Tumblr page (not that I spend my time browsing those…much). But it was more so the way that he had said those words that completely eliminated any semblance of silliness or trace of corniness.

Though I mean no offense to the caretaking profession, Bob probably didn’t grow up dreaming of doing what he does now for a living. Despite this though, he was making the best of his situation and was working hard to be able to provide for himself and his family, and to ultimately give them the chances that he perhaps didn’t have himself growing up.

From a more personal perspective, I come from first generation parents. I share a close relationship with my mom and dad, so I’ve heard the stories of their experiences as immigrants and their struggles to establish roots in a country that was completely new to them. As independent entrepreneurs, they literally built a business for themselves out of nothing, and continue to work at it for seven days a week with little to no holiday or vacation hours every year. As a product of such people, I know firsthand the meaning of work ethic and determination. Just like Bob, they had and still do put in such tremendous effort and hard work on a daily basis in order to provide my sister and I with the options we have today.

And there I was, consciously knowing that I was giving a mediocre performance in my classes and only applying half of the effort that I am capable of to my assignments and studies. My initial drive to achieve and succeed had dwindled from first year and was in danger of completely fizzling out by the end of my second. Despite what I said to Bob, I had stopped actually trying and had begun coasting. And even though I was aware of this change in myself, I couldn’t find the energy or reason to fix my slacker behaviour – until now.

With those powerful words from Bob, a reflection on my parents, and some tough love from my best friends (who had noticed my recent degenerating behaviour), I was suddenly reminded of how lucky I am to be in the position I am in. The life and career goals that I had set out for myself weren’t going to become reality by themselves. If I wanted them to happen, I needed to actively work hard and make use of the opportunities and chances available to me to bring them to fruition. I owe it to Bob, my parents, and myself to persist and retain that determination in succeeding in the future that I envision. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if my dreams and goals don’t happen in the exact way that I picture them. As long as I’m actively trying and giving the best of my abilities to the challenges that come my way, that’s all that matters.

After all, that’s the only thing that is really asked of us at the end of the day, isn’t it: to try, and to keep trying.

5 Tips to Stay Motivated

Image by Celestine Chua, Flickr

Image by Celestine Chua, Flickr

I bet all of you have started the Winter semester motivated and on the front foot. Typically, the first month of classes is when students actually keep up with readings, assignments, lectures and whatnot. Towards the tail end of the semester though, when the assignments and exams start to really pile up, all the motivation is gone. All you want to do is to get across that finish line somehow. So, I thought I’d compile a list of tips to help you stay motivated through the semester:

  1. Manage your time
  2. This is the most important tip. You’d be surprised how many issues can be minimized by just one step – proper time management. Don’t slack. I know it gets harder as the semester progresses, but you have to manage your time and get stuff done. Don’t get lazy and put off those readings till tomorrow; tomorrow never comes.

  3. Prioritize
  4. Do you really need to watch that YouTube video right now? Do you really need to go through 9gag? It’s prioritizing not just that fun stuff, but also going out and work. You are choosing something over the other at all times. Choose your priorities carefully, and keep in mind the opportunity cost (see what I did there?). Point is, the less you tire yourself out, the better for you.

  5. Take time to relax
  6. Most students have a schedule crazier than Barack Obama’s, with classes, club events, work, networking, and schoolwork crammed into a single day. After all that, you’ve got Facebook, YouTube, and your favourite TV series to keep you up until late into the night. Doing this on a regular basis will definitely result in a major burnout. Take time to relax. Listen to some music, go out for a walk, read a book (not a course book, obviously). Take some time off.

  7. Socialize
  8. Despite your schedule, make time to go out with some friends at least every other week. Studies show that just focusing on work and school and not having any frequent informal interaction outside of these leads to anxiety and potentially, a burnout. Aaaand, you don’t want that. So make time to go out; I’m sure you can find a couple of hours at least once a week. (That time for the YouTube videos? Use it here.)

  9. Keep your eyes on the goal
  10. There is a reason you are here. Every time you start feeling lazy or start procrastinating, remind yourself about what you want to achieve. Lazy people don’t get anywhere; you have to work hard to be successful. No one said it was going to be easy.

So that’s pretty much it! I hope we all can benefit from these tips, and have a wonderful semester!

This article was originally posted on the Schulich undergrad blog. See it here.

11 Quotes to Inspire Learning

Image by paul-simpson.org, Flickr

Image by paul-simpson.org, Flickr

Learning is a great thing. Yes, exams can be stressful and you may be feeling forced to learn content that bores you. You’ve questioned the worth of the courses you’re taking and when you’ll ever use this information “in the real world”. However, once you’ve graduated and kicked off your career, you’ll be thankful for – and proud of – the degree or diploma you have under your belt.

We’ve listed some of our favourite educational quotes below to inspire you to push through your college or university experience, no matter how far off the end may seem.

Do you have a quote not listed here that inspires you? Tweet us at @StudentsDotOrg and let us know!

Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.
― Nelson Mandela

I’m going to college. I don’t care if it ruins my career. I’d rather be smart than a movie star.
― Natalie Portman

Education is the best provision for life’s journey.
― Aristotle

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
― Mahatma Gandhi

Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.
― Martin Luther King Jr.

Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.
― Leonardo da Vinci

Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.
― Malcolm X

All I have learned, I learned from books.
― Abraham Lincoln

Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.
― Albert Einstein

I don’t love studying. I hate studying. I like learning. Learning is beautiful.
― Natalie Portman

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
― Nelson Mandela

Perseverance is key, and students.org will be right behind you the whole way!