I occasionally get personal questions about my own specific study habits. I generally try to avoid them because they’re usually only productive for a single conversation with the asker. This time I responded with something that I found potentially helpful to others so I published the relevant portions of it.
So, you talk about motivations for studying a lot. Do you still study much now that you’ve graduated? What motivates you to study? I always have a ton of trouble getting interested in school.
These days I still find myself studying at least 10-15 minutes a day. It’s oddly reminiscent of my college days. Thankfully, now that I’m out of a traditional schooling environment I can focus my energy on studying things that I’m genuinely curious about consistently.
That means my typical motivation these days is good old fashioned curiosity. The things I study are the same things I’d look up if I had all day to screw around. (Right now I’m on a bit of a language learning kick.)
Having genuine curiosity as my main motivator is amazingly powerful and I see it making its impact. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to stop studying while I’m still interested in the material. Studying until the curiosity subsides is a bit risky because it often leaves you feeling a little drained and disinterested at the start of the next session.
Of course, I can’t blame anyone for not genuinely being curious in school. Heck, I can’t blame anyone for having trouble finding motivation for studying outside of school when they’re in school all day. School, for me at least, was devastating on my motivation for years.
My motivation through high school was mostly a bit of a game on the system. The whole time I was looking for tricks that would get me ahead with very little work (never cheated, that always looked like a bit of a cop out.) I had almost no interest in actually learning the material. I just wanted to find the quickest way through it. That motivation didn’t end up helping dramatically in the grades department until later years.
In reality, it likely took years of work to get my motivation for traditional academics up to the average level. Once I did that, using a few of the tricks I learned in high school, and a few more that I developed over the years through experimentation, my results dramatically improved.
The funny thing about that is that it instantly boosted my motivation even higher without any more effort. Suddenly, I had more than enough motivation to get everything done. I had academic motivation in reserves.
I’d like to say I discovered some great motivation but, for me, it didn’t come down to one single motivation. I like to discuss single motivators but I suspect most people are motivated by a lot of little things. Often the motivation comes down to the motivation for a single night at a time. “Ah… I’m curious about this one single things, so I’ll start.”
If I was forced to pick a single motivating factor in my life it would be a stubborn arrogance. I could never accept that I was less than average. Sure, during some of my early high school years my grades represented that but the whole time I was thinking that was wrong. I couldn’t accept I knew less than other students or even my teachers.
Yes… I’m not stupid enough to think I really am smarter than most people logically but emotionally I have that ingrained in everything I do. I’ve gotta’ tell you though. I’m betting there are better motivations out there.
Don’t count on finding motivation from me. All I can do is give you some suggestions of where to look. Ultimately it’s going to come down to you getting miserably frustrated in an attempt to figure it out yourself.
Motivation is and will always be personal.
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