What separates high achievers in school and university from their peers? How is it that some people appear to get extraordinary marks in everything they do, while others struggle to even hand their work in on time?

It would seem that there are a legion of complicated factors at play to make people succeed: natural intelligence, access to better educational resources, even school location can play a big role, but there is one factor that dwarfs all others. One so obvious it almost hides in plain sight. One that you have control over.


It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are, or the quality of your teachers and private tutors (if you are lucky enough to have them). If you don’t want to learn, then you simply won’t. Motivation is the single most important factor that drives you to better yourself. In the context of education, it enables you to expand your knowledge, hone your intellect and achieve better results. Motivation is what allows you to plough through the mundane. It can help transform a subject you have a passing interest in into a passionate field of study, and even a full time career.

Hold on though, if it’s just that easy then why do some people fail? Why is there such a difference between students? Well, it turns out that motivating yourself is actually really hard.

How to Motivate Yourself

No two people are the same when it comes to motivation, but one unifying factor holds across all people who have mastered it: determination and the desire to succeed. Most people find it easier to work in areas that interest them and much harder to work when they have no interest in their subject or field. Therefore, if you find a way to approach your work that interests you, and you think about long term success rather than short term stress, then you will be able to harness the aspect of yourself that is determined, focused and motivated. So, decide right now that you are going to put the work in and maximise your potential.

Once you have committed to this, trying set yourself some long term goals. What is it you want out of a particular subject? Focus on the outcome of your work, not the work itself. Do you want a passing grade, or a top grade? Do you want to be considered good at what you do, or the best in your field? Are you simply trying to turn a piece of work into an acceptable standard, or would you like to start becoming amazing at a subject that already interests you? These goals will have keep you on track and let you track your progress.

You may be skeptical and believe that motivation isn’t the only thing stopping you from achieving your goals. And you’d be right, there are other factors at play here. Can you just become good at something merely through force of willpower? Of course not, but with motivation you can acquire all the other skills needed for success. Motivation is there to drive you through the next step, to give your mind the tools needed to get through what would otherwise be tedious noise.


Now you’re feeling motivated, get to work! Motivation without work is like intellect without knowledge: a massive waste of potential. Motivation can make work that you would normally find boring, acceptable, and work that you find slightly interesting can turn into a true hobby.

Don’t worry if you find yourself flagging, thats natural. Constantly working away at something can drain the motivation away from you. In order to keep up that motivation and to stay on track, try these following techniques:

  • Set a list of goals with a rough timeline, break them down into short and long term issues. Figuring out the scope of what you have to do is a great way to help focus you on achieving that end goal. By splitting your goals into short and long term aims, you can get that sense of satisfaction every time you complete one.
  • Reward yourself fairly for hitting short and long term goals.Sometimes the sense of satisfaction is not enough and you just aren’t motivated enough by completing a goal alone. Well, if this is case then reward yourself. Buy something nice or treat yourself to some relaxing time that you truly deserve. Give yourself small rewards for short term task completion, and bigger rewards for finishing long term goals.
  • Force yourself to make a start, even if it is just getting all your material ready and writing a title. If you are having a really hard time getting started on a piece of work then focus on just making a start. Get it all open with your materials ready and take a short break, you will find your mind drifting back to the work and you will get to a point where you naturally come back to doing it. Start work now, you can be perfect later on.
  • Set yourself up for success. Make sure you leave plenty of time to do your work and that you have all the materials needed. Don’t have the right materials? Then prioritise that first. Don’t leave your work until the last minute because that won’t allow you to edit and refine your ideas. The best ideas and pieces of work always go through stages of development and refinement, you have to give yourself the chance to proofread, edit and re-structure your assignments.

Whatever happens, don’t stop. Starting on the path of motivation and work is only the first step. You need to make sure keeping going, especially if you have setbacks where it really gets tough and you feel like giving up. Remember that we all have bad days and we all make mistakes, but it’s those of us that keep going and learn from their errors that end up the most successful. Never allow yourself to lose your determination to persevere and your drive to succeed. If you manage to stay focused then (as corny as it sounds) you really will set yourself up to succeed, not only in education but in all areas of life.

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