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Why You Have No Motivation For School

why you have no motivation for school blog cover with stick figure and the word motivation

By Katie Azevedo, M.Ed.

Motivation is one of the trickiest subjects I cover here on the blog. That’s because motivation is complicated and is influenced by many factors. Some of these factors you have control over, and some are less controllable. 

Low motivation in school can lead to a whole bunch of problems, but I’m sure you already know that.

Low motivation can cause bad grades, low self-esteem, problems at home, and problems with teachers. It can even lead to failing classes and not graduating. (Yes, things escalate quickly!)

In this blog post, I talk about the three most likely reasons why you have no motivation for school.

Of course, you might have your own reasons that are unique to your situation. But I encourage you to consider the list below and see if you’re willing to use any of the strategies I share.

1. You’re Not Motivated in School Because You Don’t See the Relevance.

One of the most common reasons why students lose school motivation is because they don’t see the point of what they’re doing.

When we don’t fully see the big picture, and we don’t understand how something can directly benefit us, it’s hard to motivate ourselves to do it.

You might not be motivated to study for a particular test because the content feels irrelevant. (PS: Here’s how to study when you’re not motivated.) You might not be motivated to write a paper because you don’t see how the topic matters. You might not be motivated to participate in a class because the subject matter is unrelated to what you want to do in life. 

If irrelevancy is the reason you’re not motivated, you probably think any of the following thoughts regularly:

  • This is dumb
  • This is pointless
  • This doesn’t matter anyway
  • I don’t care

If the above list sounds familiar, you’re not seeing the big picture.

I get it. I do. Not everything we learn in school is relevant or interesting or even helpful. I know this. But that’s not the point.

Let’s say you’re taking a required calculus course but you have no intention of pursuing math in your career. Then of course you wouldn’t find that calculus course relevant and you wouldn’t be motivated to do your calculus work.

But again, you’re missing the big picture. The calculus class itself is not the point. The real point, or the real relevance that you need to find and connect to, is that you have to pass that class to graduate, and graduation is the point.

Let’s say that you have a paper due on a book that you procrastinated on and haven’t even read yet. Of course you are not going to be motivated to do the essay! You might be thinking, this book is dumb, and the essay doesn’t matter.

Are you sure though? I argue that again, you’re focusing on the wrong thing and missing the point.

Sure, the point might not be the essay itself, or even the book. But the point is that you need to tap into is that reading the book and writing the essay — even when you’re not motivated to — teaches you how to do hard things when you don’t want to.

I’m going to write that again because it’s really important: Sometimes the point of doing something is not the thing itself. The real lesson is learning how to do hard things when you don’t want to.

And if that’s not a relevant lesson, I don’t know what is.

2. You’re Not Motivated in School Because Your Future Is Unclear.

It’s totally normal for students in high school and even college not to know what the future looks like. Even as an adult (because I’m a human) I can’t predict what my future will look like 10 years from now. Or even tomorrow.

But not knowing what the future holds can’t stop you from taking action and doing what you need to do now.

If you’re in high school, you might not know what college you want, what major to declare, or even if you want to go to college at all. With that level of uncertainty, it can be tough to be motivated in high school.

If you’re in college, you might not know what your future career is going to look like after graduation. That’s normal. However, that too can impact your motivation for finishing the things that you’re doing now, which are your college courses. 

You have two options for a solution here. Neither one is better than the other.

Option One: Accept the fact that you don’t know what the future will bring. I think no matter which choice you pick, this or the next one, this is a reality we have to face to the great.

Not knowing what college to apply to or if you’re going to apply to college at all should not impact your high school performance. Because if you give up now, then you’re going to ruin your options for college anyway. You deserve to give yourself that choice.

Option Two: You can do your best to gain some clarity about what you want for your future. Work with your guidance counselor or school advisor, or speak with your parents or friends to brainstorm some things that you can see yourself doing in the future.

There are plenty of tests online like this one and this one that can point you in the right direction.

My advice to students is always to first identify what you think you don’t want. The process of elimination it’s not just a test strategy, but it’s also a life strategy.

Just a little clarity around what your next immediate step is can increase your motivation for what you’re doing now.

3. You’re Not Motivated in School Because You’re Missing Certain Skills.

You’re required to learn things in school. We know this. You’re supposed to learn the dates of things, the themes of books, the formulas for math problems, and how to run experiments.

But the problem is that learning things requires skills. Specifically, learning things requires the following skills: 

  1. time management
  2. task management
  3. organization
  4. note-taking
  5. annotating
  6. study strategies

If you’re missing any of the above core academic skills, learning things can become nearly impossible. And when learning things feels impossible, your motivation will tank.

The skills in the list above are the most critical skills for high school, college, and graduate school. If you’re missing even just one of these skills, everything can feel so much harder than it is and you won’t be motivated to even try.

The solution is not always to work harder or to “stop being lazy” as many students are told. 

So what is the solution? 

Learn skills. Specifically: time management, task management, annotating, note-taking, organization, and study strategies. 

I can’t make this clear enough: your academic experience will be so much easier and smoother with those skills.

I teach you these exact skills Inside SchoolHabits University. That’s my online self-paced course for students. Thirty-four bite-sized lessons that teach the nitty-gritty strategies and skills that you can use not only now, but also forever. Yes forever, as these are the skills he will also need in your professional life.

As I said at the beginning of this post, motivation is a tricky subject. It’s not exactly an emotion or a feeling, but sometimes it’s helpful to think of it that way. When we do, we become less dependent on it. Because at the end of the day, motivation is helpful when we have it, but it’s not a requirement to do the things we need to do.

If you’re curious about motivation versus discipline and which one matters more, I suggest you listen to this podcast episode that I recorded on that exact subject.

Remember, the reason why you’re not motivated in school might be one of the above reasons, or it might be something unique to your situation. If you have something else going on that’s destroying your motivation, then you’ll need to address that as well. But in the meantime, many of the above strategies I share will help.

The post Why You Have No Motivation For School appeared first on SchoolHabits.

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