Motivation levels
The word “motivation” comes from the verb “motive”. This derives from the Latin verb movere, to move. So, a motive is something that moves you to action. The implication is that this “something” is inherent, perhaps a need, a desire, an emotion.

Motivation is the drive within a person to try to achieve a goal, or to meet a need or want. Finding the motivation to study can sometimes be difficult and to do so requires us to understand our needs, agendas, and goals.

Lack of motivation can mean we put off studying in favour of doing something that is more enjoyable or less difficult. For those studying for professional qualifications, it is common to put work before study, even when work will keep.

It is quite natural for levels of motivation to fluctuate over time. If you are feeling the buzz of motivation you will find it easier to study but it is normal to lose some of this sentiment as time goes by. Try not to worry about this and take some simple, practical steps to address it.

A common cause of low motivation is feeling overwhelmed by the task and not knowing where to begin. Maybe you doubt you have the skills or resources you think you need and seek comfort in doing tasks you know you are capable of completing?

Whatever the reason for lack of motivation to study, it is important for you to recognise it and deal with it quickly.

Symptoms of low motivation

The symptoms of low motivation are:

  • Waiting for the right mood or the right time to tackle study
  • Fear of failure or success
  • Poorly organised study
  • Perfectionism (“I don’t have the ability to do this perfectly, so I won’t do it at all.”)

Motivation approaches
If you find you are not studying because you just do not want to do it, you need to find ways of motivating yourself to get learning. The following approaches can be helpful here:

Make up your own rewards, for example, promise yourself a treat at lunchtime, if you have completed a certain task
Remind yourself of why you began on this path of study – what is in it for you, and what will you gain from completing it?
Ask someone else to check up on you – peer pressure can work well for some of us so choose someone who you respect and whose opinion you value
Identify the unpleasant consequences of not studying (exam failure, no pay rise, loss of respect amongst peers, feelings of guilt etc)
Look for a source of inspiration and identify who or what could inspire you to complete your study

If you are putting off studying because you find it overwhelming, you will certainly find it helpful to implement the study plan ideas provided in this course where you can break your study down into manageable chunks and still allow yourself free time.


Complete these questions to identify ways to motivate yourself:

  • I am most motivated to study when…
  • I am least motivated to study when…
  • When I am not feeling motivated to study, this is because…
  • By completing my studies I hope to achieve…
  • The thing likely to motivate me the most to keep going with my studies is…
  • If my motivation to study is lacking, the best person to check up on me is…
  • If I am not able to complete my studies, the negative outcome for me will be…