How to improve your motivation to revise.

Let’s be honest, revision can be boring.

So how do you keep doing it?

The word “motivation” derives from the word “motive” – the reason for doing something.

There are two types of motivation that we all have for doing things: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is the self motivation we have when we want to do something for ourselves. For example, if I want to spend the day sharpening my skills on Fortnite I can choose to do this for myself – and then do it.

Extrinsic motivation on the other hand is the motivation we have when someone or something else encourages us to do something. For example, people often have jobs that they don’t enjoy. Their motivation for doing it comes from the fact they are paid a wage – which allows them to do the things they do enjoy.

Clearly, the strongest type of motivation is the intrinsic type. I’m sat writing this because I want to. Nobody has asked me to, and I am not benefiting financially for doing it. In fact, there are a number of things I should be doing instead of writing this but my intrinsic motivation to write is over-riding any extrinsic motivations to make lunch or book my summer holiday, despite that being what I’ve been asked to do.

As well as motivations to do something, we also have motivations to avoid doing things. I avoid cleaning my car even though I know it will last longer, rust less, and sell for more money if I did take more care of it. I avoid doing it, though, because I find it boring.

Is this you?

Then change it.

If only there was some way of changing our motivations. Imagine what we could do if our motivation to play computer games was lower than our motivation to gain great exam results by revising. As luck would have it, we can change our motivations. We can reprogram our brains to want whatever we want it to want. So, how do we do that?

Changing what we want

Humans are very visual creatures. Our brain has neurons devoted to visual processing which take up about 30 percent of our sensory cortex, as compared with 8 percent for touch and just 3 percent for hearing (Discover Magazine).  We can use this visual preference to trick our desires.

Actual photo of me getting another degree

All we need to do is create a powerful image of what we want to focus on, creating a clear visual goal. For example, if I wanted to create the motivation to train for next year’s Marathon run, I could create a photo of myself dressed in my running gear, crossing the finish line. You can do the same thing to increase your motivation to study. You could create fake exams certificates with your name on and the grade you want to see printed on it. Or you could produce a photo of yourself getting your degree. You are limited only by your imagination (and your ability with photo editing software).

Download, print and fill in your own details

We can also use our extrinsic motivations to get revising. Have you ever promised yourself a treat for doing something you didn’t really want to do? Do you find that if you sit with a group of friends who are all working hard that you start to work too? These are just two little tricks you could use and they really do work. Others include breaking large tasks into smaller chunks to give yourself little wins. If you allow yourself to celebrate with a treat then all the better.

One final piece of advice I would offer is to remove distractions (motivations for doing things other than revising). Give your phone to someone else to look after or use an app such as which will help you to limit screen time.

So, now you have no excuses. You know all about how to change what you want to focus on. The last thing to do is to make a commitment to do it. Try the techniques described here and let me know how you get on.

Take care and good luck. Stay motivated.



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