How to Keep Motivated in the New Normal

Written by Marcella Pires

Rethink Your Academic Lifestyle

We’ve reached the middle of the semester, and I feel myself fully (re)adapted to the (new) normal. It’s my first time having in-person classes since the Covid crisis began, and it has been a while since I’ve interacted with others in an academic setting. The first few days were definitely weird, but everything seemed pretty normal after a while. You’d think I’d be glad to be so comfortable with my new routine, but I found myself anxious with this quick return to school life. 

2020 and the Covid crisis forced most of us into some sort of a different routine. I went through a few changes myself, a big one involving my academic life. Being a bit overinvested in it, I enjoyed how Covid sort of pushed me to develop a different relationship with my academics. Now that we find ourselves falling back into pre-Covid routines, I fear a crisis incoming. When in-person classes resumed, I was suddenly aware of how much I didn’t want to succumb to academic pressure. After speaking to a few people, I realized that I wasn’t the only one wary of getting overly immersed in my academics. In hoping that I could help anyone who is also trying to keep their life in balance during this leap into the new normal, I decided to write a bit about the different ways I’m keeping myself grounded.

Work for Yourself

Personally, my most important rule is to work for yourself. If you’re working for your own interest, it’s usually productive. If not, then it won’t be as easy of a task. Studying as much as someone expects you to isn’t the key. You’re going to be your best when you’re working on something because it means something to you. Trying to satisfy external expectations is not enough of a study boost. Focus only on what you want to achieve, and align your studies accordingly.

This one is the easiest, yet most beneficial change I have made. According to my roommate, keeping in touch with people who have nothing to do with your academic life is a good way of not letting yourself be completely absorbed by academics. Taking time to interact with people who aren’t involved in your academic life can be refreshing and provide a new perspective. It’s important to be reminded that GPAs and test scores won’t define your future as much as we’re led to believe.

Making time for activities is another good way of taking a mental break. Sometimes I find myself spending an entire week absorbed in studying and stressing over an upcoming exam. I barely find time to exercise, telling myself that I’ll do it after I’ve finished with the test. Considering I have tests almost every week, it’s safe to say that I haven’t been exercising as much as I should. I have to remind myself that it can be very energizing to take a break. Pausing your work for an hour is probably going to help. Take time for yourself. It’ll only work in your favor.

The Power of Confidence

Another one of my tips is about confidence. There’s been a lot of talk about growth mindsets. —the idea that there is power in believing that your abilities can be developed. In academics, there’s nothing more common than a student who believes they are “made” for Literature and another one who believes they are “made” for Math. What if people had the belief that even if they seem to be “made” for Literature, they could also make their way to Math if they simply believed they could? Trusting that I am achieving whatever result I desire has given me heaps of motivation. I now find myself feeling challenged rather than scared by a harder class or a lower score. 

My final advice is to write everything down. Putting all of my goals on paper has made me more committed to the whole thing. And honestly, I’ve been partially successful. Keeping these habits has truly been allowing me to maintain my quarantine calm. But of course, what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. But hopefully reading these tips can help you think of ways to keep your academic lifestyle happy and healthy. And remind you of something you want to keep in mind re-entering the new normal. 

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