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How do you stay motivated?

Hi, I'm a sophomore in high school. And I know that it is EXTERMELY early for me already to lack motivation, but I'm taking all these hard AP/IB classes that have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO with what I want to be when I'm older. So I was just wondering if anyone has any tips on how to stay motivated because God knows I have a lot more schooling to get through! #medicine #school #pre-med #college-student #high-school-students #pre-medicine #procrastination


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Michael’s Answer

That is a really good question that has no single right answer. A famous Jewish psychiatrist by the name of Victor Frankl who survived the Nazi holocaust wrote a famous book called "man's search for meaning" and he believed I think correctly that people need to do something that gives their lives importance and significance, and that to a large extent this means helping others to some degree. This belief can be found in other religious traditions as well, for example Catholic thinkers have said that God made us to know, love and serve him in this world so as to be happy with him in the next ( that is after we die). This translates to a great degree in helping others. So if you make your life about serving others and helping them you can be assured that you will make a difference and the world will be better off for your having lived. There are lots of ways to help others, from obvious ones like becoming a teacher or health care worker, to less obvious ones like becoming an investment banker helping others to start businesses so that people can have jobs to take care of their families. In fact any career can be viewed through the lens of how it helps other people. Chances are by creating value for others you will also make a fairly good living for yourself. So do not think of your courses as having something to do with what you want to do. As a young person you have no real idea of what knowledge you will need to help someone in the future. Think that by learning as much as you can you are preparing to be of service to others in ways you can not predict, and if you can be of service you will help people, be happier and probably earn a nice living as a bonus.


Thank you so much for this comment. I am in my Junior year now and these classes are getting more and more far from what I see myself learning in college. But to think that later on in my life this information that my teachers have stuffed into my brain could serve a greater and better purpose, then I would call these four years in high school a success. Thank you again for answering my question! Shama E.

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James’s Answer

hi shama,


i graduated med school in 1993.


your question is difficult to answer. i can kinda like some of the previous answers because they're very general. i'm going to try to get a bit more specific.


i definitely concur about high school courses not holding your attention. and i don't recall a single instance where a teacher said, "this will be important if you become a medical doctor."


most of my buddies focused on grades. personally, i decided to focus on scholarship money. i could have finished in the top 10 of my class ... but i didn't. i might have been able to make a run at salutatorian ... but i didn't. what i did do was gather the largest scholarships. that motivated me.


i spent time at the counselor's office wading through scholarship materials. applied to every scholarship that i met criteria for. it took a lot of time and effort. but one thing that it gave me was focus. and i'm not talking about the money anymore at this point. what i'm talking about is the essays. i answered a whole lot of essay questions about what my life goals were, what obstacles i had overcome, where i wanted to be in 10 years, etc.


it really made me take a hard look at myself. sharped up my writing and communication skills. paid for my college education. definitely, definitely worth it.


let's skip ahead to college. again, loss of motivation is incredibly common and leads to dropping out, drug use, criminality, sexual promiscuity, etc.


when i was a college sophomore my grades slipped big time. i even made my first D. (I still hate Calculus.) but i realized that things had to change and was willing to make that change. so i did what i knew how to do - study. i went to the bookstore and found a book called "How to Make Straight A's." best investment i ever made. it gave me practical advise on how to take notes, who to study with, when to study, where to sit in class, how to read textbooks, etc, etc.


these were all things that no one had ever taught me. frankly, i didn't even realize that you could learn how to learn better. i would strongly urge you to go to your local library and find a similar book.


lastly, time management. i was a business major in college and when i took Accounting i learned how to make a budget. and i decided to apply the lesson to my personal finances. so for two semesters i kept every receipt, made out a ledger, wrote down every penny in the correct column. that ledger showed me where all of my hard earned scholarship money was going. it prompted me to reign in my spending on certain expenses, especially "entertainment."


so i would suggest that you make yourself a "time" ledger. every day write down exactly how much time you spent in all of your daily activities. be brutally honest! that ledger will help show you where your time is going. you can then make the decision to focus on what needs to your priority.


good luck!


This really rings true to me right now because in my Junior year I have SOOOOO much work to do to start the last year of my high school career off strong, prepare for college, etc. and procrastination has been prevalent in every aspect of my life and I need to get it under control especially before I go to college! And I think your advise and your book can help! Thanks again!! Shama E.

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Kei’s Answer

Hi Shama!

Your question is a tough one. People get motivation from different sources. I get mine from my kids. Every time I feel tired at work or whenever I feel down, when I see my kids, they keep me going.

This is something that you would have to find out yourself. What keeps you from moving forward? What is something that you cannot give up and make you happy? What do you look forward to when you wake up in the morning everyday? We may or may not like everything that we learn in school but always look at the brighter side of things. These lessons will come handy when you are faced with a situation in the future. You can also talk to your loved ones or your friends so they can boost your morale and help level up your motivation.

Good luck!

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Melanie’s Answer

Motivation is a complicated topic. I had a similar issue when I took classes where passion wasn't great, but the thing I did was set a schedule for myself. Each day, I would wake up, go to class, and then when it came to homework/studying, I would study for an hour take a 30 min break, and repeat the process until all my work was done. Breaks are important for your brain regardless of the amount of work you have since it allows information to incubate even when you aren't reviewing it. This will allow you to spend time on other things while off-handedly processing what you learned. Another thing you could do, though difficult, is try to plan out where you want to be from where you are. This may include looking at colleges, GPA, and measurements, but it can motivate to work harder. Planning is useful in many sense as it allows you to create and arrange goals for your life. This will become extremely important your junior and senior years as you start applying and accepting offers from colleges.

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Estelle’s Answer

Shama, I understand your frustration. Remember that your education is a long term investment. Just like investing money in a small corporation, the value comes in the long run. It's better not to look at the many years ahead when it comes to school but the immediate goals:
1. Do great in high school so that you can go to the college of your choice.
2. Excel in college so that your medical school application looks awesome.
3. Enjoy medical school because you are finally there and have prepared yourself well with motivation and study skills.

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Rachel’s Answer

Shadow doctors that you admire. Volunteer at institutions you respect. If you are unmotivated and bored, start working on becoming the type of person that you would like to be.

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Ken’s Answer

Hi Shama!


You asked a very important question. Here are some views on the subject that you might find to be helpful:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AV9W8bj9LjI
https://www.sophia.org/tutorials/staying-motivated-in-college
https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-started/inside-the-classroom/tips-for-staying-motivated


Best of luck! Please keep me informed. I would like to follow your progress!


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Richard’s Answer

I gain inspiration from the story of the failed antarctic exploration by Shackleton as told in the book Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage.

The hardships they overcame make our problems seem insignificant.

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Melissa’s Answer

I usually go back to the reason why I started down the path of my goal in the first place and that usually starts with the “Why”. Why this change is important to me. What benefits are there? Then, I re-evaluate to try to make my goals as easy as possible, then that sets me up for a string of successes. I like to celebrate each success I achieve. By celebrating each success, it keeps me motivated to keep going. Good luck!

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