Older student working on laptop at home

—Jellina D., University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

If I had a magic wand, I’d brandish it near the end of each course and wish all my students a sprinkle of inspiration to keep them going. For some, life issues require attention and academics must take a lower priority. For those that have hit the point where motivation begins to waver, and it happens to most of us, this is for you. Know that with a little planning, you can beat that blues to keep going when the going gets tough:

Keep the prize in your eye.

Okay, so that may be a less elegant way of saying “Keep your eye on the prize.” Staying motivated calls for envisioning the finish line. If graduating with a degree or getting that next job is your ultimate goal, then take a moment to think about how it’ll feel when you get there. It feels good, right? Return to that feeling when you’re feeling stressed or unmotivated and reflect on how the current task (e.g., studying for a specific assignment) will help you achieve your goal.

Find an accountability partner.

One of the best strategies for achieving a goal is to find someone who will be your accountability partner. This is someone (a classmate, friend, or a mentor) you provide a regular progress report to. Sometimes just knowing you have to check in with someone will motivate you to get something done. Other times, they can be that voice of encouragement when you feel stuck. Be sure to check out CHAMPS if you’re interested in knowing more about peer mentor opportunities at Ashford.

Reward yourself.

Life is too short not to celebrate. You finished that 10-page research paper? Go to dinner with a friend to celebrate. Get all your studying done for that quiz a day early? Take a nature hike and reenergize yourself. Balancing task completion with rewards can give you the break you need to feel better about digging back into your work.

Take care of yourself.

Nothing zaps your energy and motivation like suffering with an illness. When my own motivation lags, a short nap or a good night’s rest are often enough to boost my mood and attitude. A brisk walk around the block can do the trick as well.

If all else fails to get you motivated, talking your student advisor or a counselor in your community may help you identify what’s causing your dip in motivation and other steps you can take to finish strong.