How Motivation Affects Learning

When it comes to learning, motivation is often thought of as a key factor to achieving big things and hitting those high grades. Is it as simple as motivation equals better results? Or is it a more complex interaction? We all love feeling motivated and inspired, but what is more important for learning, motivation, or self-discipline?

How Motivation Impacts Learning

Learning is always going to be a tough way to spend your time, especially if you’re an absolute beginner. The fact is, no matter what you’re learning, getting started is tough and most of us don’t have an infinite reserve of motivation backing us up. Without the motivation to get started and focused, any student is going to struggle to get moving. However, this is where self-discipline comes in, allowing students to get the work and momentum flowing. As they say, getting started is the hardest part. Once moving, feeling competent and driven, motivation can become a driving force.

The fact remains, learning is not dependent on motivation, however, it can really help. Learning as a process can be daunting, full of potentially difficult aspects waiting to trip you up. While it may be tempting to think about learning in terms of motivation, it’s much better to focus on self-discipline and the rewards inherent to the process itself, rather than focusing on a nebulous sense of motivation.

Getting Started is Always Tough

As people are always saying, getting started is the hardest bit. That’s the big issue with putting things off in your head, you’ll always be building them up to being bigger, harder and more stressful than they need to be. The more you do this, the harder they become to get started with. Then it becomes a strange situation, where you’re worrying about the work you’ve got to do, so it’s sitting in your head, but you’re also making no progress. The fact is, if it’s a valid, worthwhile goal, it’s always going to be a little tough. However, once you get moving towards said goal, this toughness is part of what makes it so rewarding. This difficulty bested is exactly what makes learning satisfying.

As far as tips for getting started are concerned, there are absolutely loads out there. My personal favourites are planning out how you’re going to get started, then combining that with a to-do list the night before or morning of. Or thinking in terms of a reward. Or alternatively, you could try the tiny goal approach, where you set yourself the task of doing something small and easy, and watch it snowball as you get more engaged. There’s loads to do to boost getting started and get learning.

Learning is All About Perseverance

There’s long been a popular misconception when it comes to learning, education and skill. It’s always the clever and talented people that rise to the top, achieving the most amazing things and getting the best grades. They’re the ones to achieve this because they’re gifted and it comes to them easily.

This might be true in some cases. However, for the majority, this is just lazy thinking, plain and simple. You see, most of the time it isn’t the most gifted people that rise straight to the top, it’s the hardest working. And hard work is all about perseverance and simply getting it done. The really special cases happen when perseverance meets talent, but that’s not what it’s about. What it’s about is pursuing skill and quality, not perfection and greatness. That’s something everybody can aspire to.

Perseverance is the key, especially when it comes to learning.

Whether you’re training as a musician or trying to master some difficult aspect of mathematics, perseverance is the skill you need to push through, stay focused and keep at it until you fully understand the skill and can move on and build on it.

Motivation Will Come

The important thing when it comes to hard work, discipline and perseverance is to simply trust that motivation is going to come and the work will get easier. In this, you can sit back, and start to enjoy the grind, letting passion take over. When motivation and inspiration hit, they’ll be a nice little boost, but they are no longer central to you getting the work done.
As long as you are getting the work done, motivation will come. Click To Tweet
That is all there is to it. Without the hard work however, you will be spending a long time waiting and wasting time. Find something you care about, and start learning about it. If it’s something you have to learn about for work or school, simply ripping the plaster off and getting on with it is the only way. However, once you get started, everything else gets much, much easier.

The Problem with Procrastination

Procrastination can be an extremely tempting option when it comes to work. Of course, its always in the back of all our minds. The urge to simply not bother and go do something much more fun and engaging. However. This bit of fun comes at a cost. The fact is, anytime you think you’re getting away with not doing work is a time that that work is sitting festering in your subconscious. This is the worse way to build this work into something even harder to achieve. Not only is procrastination a terrible option because you’re achieving nothing and getting absolutely nothing done, but you’re also subconsciously building the thing you’re putting off up into something harder to get done. This is the worst of both worlds. Discipline is always going to be a better option.

Momentum over Motivation

When it comes to learning, it’s all about building a base of knowledge, experience and understanding, then building upon it. Learning is all about momentum, about getting the work done, so you can move on to bigger better things and achieve the goals you really want to achieve. Sure, motivation and inspiration can be a great part of the process, letting you really feel that push forward, the passion and drive to get after it. However, it’s not about that, it’s about the consistency and hard work. This is what leads you to new heights, to getting amazing things done and going beyond potential. Momentum over motivation, always.

Tricks to Overcome a Lack of Motivation

In order to overcome a lack of motivation, you’ve really got to understand what a lack of motivation is. It’s not when you simply don’t fancy working, it’s the default state. No one is motivated and inspired all the time. Absolutely no one, and you shouldn’t expect yourself to be either. We all have peaks and lows, and our work ethic is no different. What changes over time is you base minimum expectation of yourself. As you get better at self-discipline and making sure you do the work, it gets easier to develop your own bare minimum and grow that bare minimum into a decent chunk of regular work.

For me, organisation is always a massively important part of overcoming inertia. It can be easy to do the pointless tasks for hours and discover you have no time for the tricky thing you’ve been putting off. Schedule some real time and then make sure you stick to it. It doesn’t need to be super formal, just do a to-do list for the day, and put the tricky item early on in the day. Combine this approach with the just-get-started, minimum amount approach. Just do the bare minimum little part of what you’re trying to do, and let that get the ball rolling. You’ll find yourself doing bigger and bigger chunks over time.

Keep Growing That Self-Discipline

At the end of the day, what it all really comes down to is simple. Self-discipline. We all talk about motivation and inspiration and momentum and all these many other things, they all hinge on self-discipline. Sometimes, a fresh approach can be required to shake things up and get you moving toward your goals, but more often than not, its all about discipline.

Discipline is like a muscle, the more you use it, the more it grows. The more you neglect it, the harder it is to use. Things like getting up early, doing exercise, eating right, avoiding social media when you’re supposed to be working all take discipline. The more you exercise this, the easier you will find it to work, and conversely, the more enjoyable your free time will be. Don’t be afraid of slip-ups, we all let things go sometimes. Remember that self-discipline is finite. Eventually you will need a break, so don’t begrudge yourself that time off. At the end of the day, it’s all about striking that balance. No one achieves big things in a single day, which is exactly why it’s so important to string together lots of good days of work, rather than a few days of great work. Consistency beats inspired days, and self-discipline is key for consistency.