3.4 Staying Focused and Motivated


Plan ahead

Notebook that says "goals for this month"
Photo by Estée Janssens, Unsplash License

A positive attitude and growth mindset will help drive you toward your goals, but what about planning for the unexpected?  You could have the most well developed goal, a detailed plan to achieve your goal, are highly motivated, have great relationships with your peers and professors but life is full of interruptions and change – so how can you plan for the unexpected?

Planning ahead is the single best way to stay focused and motivated to reach your goals.

  1. Don’t wait until the night before an exam. If you know you have a major exam in five days, start by reviewing the material and deciding how many hours of study you need.
  2. Then schedule those hours spread out over the next few days — at times when you are most alert and least likely to be distracted.
  3. Allow time for other activities, too, to reward yourself for successful studying. Then when the exam comes, you’re relaxed, you know the material, you’re in a good mood and confident, and you do well.

Planning is mostly a matter of managing your time well, which is the focus on our next chapter!

What Students Have to Say

“The biggest thing I learned about myself while attending college was my unnecessary need for external motivation. Seeing myself procrastinate doing an hour long project until the last minute that I had 2 weeks to do was an eye opening experience.

It has been a long and persistent journey trying to instill intrinsic motivation in myself so I can not only get more done but create things that I am proud of rather than doing the bare minimum right before the buzzer.”

Rob Pass – Fanshawe College – 2023.

Tips for Staying Focused and Motivated

  • If you’re not feeling motivated, think about the results of your goals, not just the goals themselves. If just thinking about finishing college doesn’t sound all that exciting, then think instead about the great, high paying career that comes afterwards and the things you can do with that income.
  • Remember your successes, even small successes.
  • Get the important things done first.
  • Break the task into smaller, manageable pieces. It’s a lot easier to stay focused when you’re sitting down for thirty minutes at a time. The next chapter on using your time well might give you some good suggestions for how to do this!
  • Reward yourself when you complete a significant task – but only when you are done. Some people seem able to stay focused only when there’s a reward waiting.

What other strategies do you use to keep focused and motivated?

1 Successful students have goals” from A Guide for Successful Students by Irene Stewart and Aaron Maisonville is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


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Fanshawe SOAR Copyright © 2023 by Kristen Cavanagh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.