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Stay motivated

Motivation is the crucial element in setting and attaining goals. Discovering what motivates you and taking control of your own goals can make the difference between a productive day and a day spent in bed.

Before you make goals, give yourself a pep talk, and get to work, think about what motivates you and how that affects your goals.


Two types of motivation

Extrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation occurs when you are motivated to do something in order to earn a reward or avoid a punishment. Examples of behaviors that are the result of extrinsic motivation include:

  • Studying to get a good grade
  • Cleaning your room to avoid being reprimanded by your parents
  • Participating in a sport to win awards
  • Competing in a contest to win a scholarship

Intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation means doing something because it is personally rewarding. You perform an activity for its own sake rather than the desire for some external reward. Examples of behaviors that are the result of intrinsic motivation include:

  • Participating in a sport because you find the activity enjoyable
  • Solving a word puzzle because you find the challenge fun and interesting
  • Playing a game because you find it exciting

Motivation can be difficult to find when there are tasks we don’t see a benefit to, which is why goals are important. Often times small tasks like studying, cleaning, and keeping in touch with friends are meeting a larger goal. Take the time to lay out your goals, write them down, make them S.M.A.R.T., and share them with a friend.


Ineffective goals

“I’m going to be a much better student this semester”

“I’m going to get in shape”

“I want a better GPA”

S.M.A.R.T. goals

“Every Tuesday and Thursday, in the 90 minute gap between my English and History classes every, I will review my Biology flash cards and generate new flash cards.”

“Every Monday and Wednesday morning, I will work out at the Student Recreation Center from 7:30 to 8:30.”

“I will meet with my professors at the beginning of the semester so they know who I am and I can ask them any questions I have about the syllabus.”