As January wraps up we're also wrapping up National Mentoring month. It’s also around this time of the year that people's New Year’s resolutions start to peter out as we start to commit less and less time to our goals.
But don’t push them back, keep going and make 2018 the year that you push through and accomplish your dreams. In the spirit of National Mentoring Month we’ve enlisted some of WGU’s own student mentors to give you the motivational tips and tricks you need to reach your goals. These tips will help break the bad habits that keep you from pursuing those resolutions and help you get unstuck when you find yourself in a rut.
Here are the top 5 ways to keep yourself motivated:
Tip number one is to not let yourself get muddled down in details and nit-picking. Instead give yourself a strong, central, one-word resolution. It will be easy to remember and help inspire you every day. As long as you are sticking to that one word you will be focused on the mission at hand and making progress.
Mentor Bri Wojtylak talks about the one-word goal she is having her students tackle this year.
“My students and I have 'Commitment' as our One Word of the year. With the New Year, it is the perfect time to take on this challenge. Students are setting alarms on their phones for before bed and morning alarms that go off and say things like 'Commitment', 'Commitment: What will you do today?,' 'Commitment: What did I accomplish?' or 'Commitment: Should I do one more thing before bed?' They want to stay committed to their studies and take advantage of WGU’s accelerating opportunities. They want to stay committed to their future career change and to making a difference for their families. Students are writing their academic commitments on a notepad and crossing them off as they complete them."
One way we trick ourselves into avoiding hard tasks is to make them easy to forget. But it’s a lot harder to do that when your tasks are staring you right in the face. This is particularly true when it comes to online education, as you don’t have the structure of a physical campus to keep yourself motivated.
Mentor Nate Howe suggests ways to overcome this.
“When the computer is closed, we don’t see school, and it’s easy to forget what we don’t see. Visible reminders like sticky notes and phone alarms helped to keep my WGU work at the front of my mind at times when I really needed to get work done.”
Put the sticky notes everywhere: on the doorknobs, on the bathroom mirror and in the cabinets. And set a reminder on your phone every 5 minutes if you have to.
Being diligent comes more naturally to some than others. If you can’t keep yourself accountable, find someone else who can. A Drill Sergeant to constantly knock on your door or call you up when you’re not moving closer to your goals. Your WGU Mentor can be this person. Nate suggests…
“Answer the phone. My own mentor, Marilou, was very consistent. Honestly, I wasn’t always thrilled when I saw her number on my caller ID. But talking to her always helped me to clarify my next steps and use my study time well. The times when I felt overwhelmed or embarrassed by my lack of progress were the times when my mentor was most helpful. But I had to maintain contact with her in order to get that help.”
It’s easy to push things back an hour, but that hour quickly becomes a day and soon a week has passed by. One of the most important things is to pick a routine and stick to it. As the old adage goes, “The best day to start was yesterday, the next best day is today.” Nate advises his students to sprint to the finish line…
“There were times when I really wanted to stop working on a particular writing task and finish later. But then I would ask myself, “If I quit now, when will I have time to do this again?” When you’re on a roll, keep going. It’s easy to get trapped in the cycle of waiting for the perfect time to study. The perfect time doesn’t exist – the right time is now.”
Sometimes the hardest part of hard work isn’t the work itself, it’s the getting started. It’s easy to get trapped in a cycle of “what if’s” or “maybe laters”, but once you take the first step, the rest comes naturally. Mentor Michelle Stewart says the best way to do this is to use the 5-second rule.
“I wanted to share something I learned about in one of my Mentor Trainings that really helped me get started and stop procrastinating so much, from the book, The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. In essence, when something you need to do comes to mind you have 5 seconds to act on it or you will lose your momentum. This book is life changing. I first used it to tackle waking up in the morning and starting my day! Silly I know, but once I was up, I was much more productive…. and the magic is simply counting down from 5. 5…4…3…2… 1… start reading, researching, and writing! “