Hello, my lovely readers, I hope you all have been doing well. No seriously, how have you been doing? I know this has been a really hard time, this year is just so unprecedented. Today as we are closing in on the end of the year I do want to talk about it a bit, especially for my fellow college students. I have been getting a lot of messages about how difficult it has been to stay motivated and feeling like you're running out of steam...literally I feel the same and I have been talking about it on my Instagram a lot. I thought this topic was really important and it deserved a blog of its own. So as always, grab a cup of coffee or some tea, and let's chat.
How I Cope & Learning How You Cope
This year has been really difficult. And so being a student right now and trying to figure out how to manage school means you also need to figure out how to cope with the stress, cope with the craziness, cope with it all.
I feel like at the start of this pandemic back in March and April when the world felt like it was falling apart I adjusted by NOT adjusting my schedule so I could feel a sense of normal. My schedule means a lot to me, it feels like it's something I can somewhat control in the day. So even on our extended Spring Break, I was up at 7 am and working out, cooking and baking, reading, studying, just doing everything.
My Spring semester felt fine, I felt like I adjusted well to online classes, I got everything done each day, I studied hard and I aced all my exams, ending with a 4.0. I had like a two-week break and then I started Mammalian Physiology as a six-week summer course. I worked hard every day (P.S y'all want a blog about summer classes?) and I ended with an A. And more than just the grades, mentally I didn't feel too overwhelmed or down. I took a few days to break and then I hopped into summer class and launching my first business.
When I look back at all this, I've realized something about myself, when I go through stuff I distract myself with work. I've done that through my break-up, through catastrophes, through anything in my life. Because of that sometimes it looks like I'm doing fine because I'm studying away and making good grades but inside I am really struggling.
This year helped me to see that about myself again. But now that we are in November I am seeing some changes in myself. This semester I had to adjust in a new way by TAKING A BREAK.
That's right, allowing myself to take a break! It is one of the hardest things for me but I have done it more this semester than any previous semester. This semester has been really difficult and it feels like I'm trying but I'm just not giving my all like I could be doing. But I realize I only feel that way because I am comparing my productivity and performance to other times in my life and that is a mistake because NOW is not last year, NOW is not even how it was a few weeks ago. Every moment is different and I realized I have to accept the way that I feel now and listen to my body in how it feels now!
And this semester, what I have been needing is a break.
So before I rant on a little too much about that, I just want to clarify what I'm trying to say here. You have to find ways to cope with stress. Do you cope by having an hour by hour Google calendar plan to make it through the day, do you cope by having facetime calls with family and friends, or maybe taking naps, going for runs, or maybe you work best by getting ahead in all your online work?
And maybe you're like me, and what once used to work for you isn't working anymore? That's ok!
How to keep motivated?
So I talked a bit about how this semester has difficult for me, and while I have been adjusting my schedules and giving myself more breaks, I also still have been working harder than ever. I am studying for the MCAT upwards of 15-25 hours a week on top of my course work and MCAT studying takes so much dedication and focuses to keep getting through it. So the question is, how do we do it?
Something that I have learned is that motivation truly comes from within. Whenever I am asked about staying motivated that is always my answer, you simply have to motivate yourself.
But maybe that isn't really the most helpful answer and that is what led me to sit and think about it more and write today's blog.
Motivation comes from within, but it comes from different sources. Some days, I might be motivated because I love the material and I feel motivated to learn! Some days, I might be motivated to get my work done so I can watch an episode of my favorite show, somedays I am motivated by thinking about getting a good grade, somedays I am motivated by looking at the bigger picture and wanting to work hard to achieve my goal of being a doctor.
Here are my favorite tips for staying motivated:
What happens when you lose motivation?
Truth is, I don't always feel motivated. And so sometimes when people ask me, how are you staying motivated to do work every day...I'm not.
This is where discipline comes in. It's the same with working out when you look at those fitness influencers who work out every.single.day. Do you think they WANT to workout every day? I truly think they don't but it started with motivation to start and it has become their habit so on days when they don't feel motivated to workout they still do because they have built that discipline overtime.
I see the same situation with studying throughout the semester. There are times when all I want to do is stay in bed but I get up, open the laptop, and start the lectures because it is built into my schedule. Because of this, my advice would truly be to work on building this discipline and start this at the beginning of the semester therefore when you reach the end of the semester and stress is high and burnout is real, you at least have this discipline to fall back on.
I say all this but I do want to speak a bit more about burnout.
Burnout is real
Burnout is so real you all. Once we reached the month of November I truly started to feel it, between feeling super homesick, longing for Thanksgiving break, and all the assignments I felt burnout like never before. When the burnout gets real, it gets harder to be disciplined and to keep going. I think this is when motivation is most important, your motivation to accomplish what you aim to do will help you.
When you're feeling burnt out and when you're feeling overwhelmed, turn to your friends and family and turn to God. This is where I go because they fuel me with positive messages. They tell me that they believe in me. They help to give me that final push to keep the semester going.
I just want you all to know that you're not alone in these feelings, but we can do it with a mix of motivation, determination, and discipline I know we can make it through. We're almost there you all! This year has been really tough, we are students during a pandemic right now and working towards our degrees even when the world seems to be falling apart around us. But we can turn this into our motivation, to be the health care workers of tomorrow, the future scientist and policy workers so we can avoid a future pandemic, be lawyers and advocates to fight for equal rights, to do all that we want can to make this world better.
It's almost the end of 2020, hang in there everyone! I want to leave you all with some positive messages to help keep that motivation up!