How I finished college without motivation and how can you do it, too:

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I have a love-hate relationship with college.

My life goals didn’t include going to college. But, back in 2011, I decided to apply anyway and got admitted in my first choice. I quickly got excited, thinking Anthropology was “all fun and bones”.

And it was! I loved my freshman year. I moved to a new big city, without knowing a single person, on my own. I did everything a freshman could possibly do; some months later, I knew the city like the back of my hand, had tons of friends, made memories I’m sure I’ll never forget. I had good grades – although I didn’t study, but I attended (almost) every class. I’ll cherish those memories forever, and sometimes I wish I could live those times again.

My second year of college, though, was a lot different. It started well, but I started to loose my motivation when I got to the 2nd semester. It came to a time that I decided to give up, and I did. Before the exams started, I went home. This gap lasted a year. After a year, I decided it was time to go and finish what I started, and that’s what I did.

It took me 3 more years to finish everything. I wasn’t motivated at all, I just wanted to finish it because of the mere fact that I started. But I’m one of those people that not only likes to finish things, but also likes to finish it the best way possible. So I developed some methods to keep myself going – I ended up not just “going with the flow” but also “going with the flow and having awesome grades without any motivation and not studying”.

I began by setting goals.
Starting by the biggest goal of all: I decided to apply for a Master’s Degree at the end of the year (in the field of Medicine, although I didn’t had the necessary grades, so at that time I wasn’t qualified.) That was my main goal, but, to achieve that, I needed to get better grades, which meant I had to start studying a lot (or so I thought), which is very difficult if you don’t have motivation.

I bought almost everything I wanted to study. Those who know me well know I have a obsession with notepads, pens, post-its, and all types of writing tools, shiny and colourful. You know those Stabilo .88 pens? I have a lot of them. And what about those Staedtler Triplus Fineliner? I can spend 2 hours of my life deciding which ones I’ll get home this time. No regrets, I was a college student and I wanted to make those pretty notes you see on Pinterest! And I did – I spent hours searching for pretty notes and stationery and that always gave me a little boost of motivation. Stationery spree shopping was – still is, actually – my favourite thing to do.

Using all of these things, along with focusing on objective goals, lead to the creation of a vision board. Sadly, I don’t have a picture of it anymore to show you, but it consisted in a big drawing with my biggest goal, all pretty and colorful and shiny, and a picture of Shia Labeouf reminding me to “Just do it!” This may seem silly, but looking at it every day made me gather my ideias together and start studying to conquer the path to the Master’s Degree. Rewarding myself with Stabilo pens was a constant in my life. “Oh, I finished this assignment. I deserve a reward!” And off I went to the store to buy more pens. I also printed a simulation of my study plan, showing that (if I passed all my classes) my degree was complete.

By this time, I also started to get more organized. I created and printed schedules, to-do lists, quotes, and put everything together on the wall in front of my desk, next to my vision board. I got a planner from a brand I loved and that I had never had the chance to buy before. I completed every space on it, with quotes, reminders, drawings, and stickers. The more I did, the more motivated I felt. And when I had exams, I created more habits that made me achieve better grades, not by studying hard, but by studying smarter.

My Planner by Mr Wonderful

I usually wrote some topics on post-its and stick them all over my house. I would wake up in the morning, head to the kitchen to make some coffee, and while I was waiting for my coffee I would read the post-its that were on that area. It came to a time that I did that without noticing it, and that’s when my grades started to get better. Eventually I was qualified to access the Master’s Degree I wanted, and got accepted.

So I think the trick to finishing college without motivation is to try to study smarter, not harder. Find the best method for you. Go to your classes, because you paid for it. However, if it’s a class you know you won’t learn much (there are a lot of classes like that), grab your studying supplies, go, and make some notes. When you go home at the end of the day, you will feel good because you already worked for your study. Plus, you get more free time at home! Get organized, buy or print a planner, get some color pens, search for notetaking inspiration and put your hands at work! You don’t need to feel motivated to finish your degree. You just need to set goals and remind yourself every day of what you want in the future and what you already did to get here. And, if you’re like me, pretty stationery. And coffee.

So, what about you? Do you fell overwhelmed by college sometimes? Do you feel you don’t have the motivation to finish it? What are your strategies? Share with us your thoughs!


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2 thoughts on “How I finished college without motivation and how can you do it, too:

  1. These are awesome tips! I wish this was available back when I was in college because I really lacked motivation after the first 2 semesters. Also, loved your agenda in portuguese (I’m huge fan of almost all things Brazil, never been to Portugal though)and it’s amazing how a pretty agenda can be so motivating. This post is a must-read for all those who are starting college. Thanks for sharing these great tips! 🙂

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