*alarm goes off*
It’s not morning.
Go away clock.
Why is this happening
I am so tired.
I AM SO TIRED.
OH GOD WHY AM I SO TIRED.
Right, better get to it.
“Every Morning Ever”, a short dramatic monologue by Maud Millar.
So you’re too tired to work. It’s first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening and you cannot get yourself keen. I get that. Believe me, I get it. I have it most mornings; I mean, I had it this morning. But here I am, the day marches on, and I’m writing to you. How did I do it? Well, how does anyone do it? It’s all about finding your why.
Motivation isn’t something that some people just have and some people don’t. Sure, there are some people who seem more motivated than others- you know the type, gets straight As, is determined to be a doctor, has done six hundred work experience placements and writes a medical blog every evening after school.
But are they more motivated? Or are they just more aware of their why? Read that person description again. There’s one clause that stands out to me: “Is determined to be a doctor.” This is a person who has an incredibly strong why. Why do extra work to get straight As? Because I want to be a doctor. Why do so much work experience? Because I want to be a doctor. Why spend hours of my life writing a medical blog? Because I want to be a doctor.
If you’re struggling with tiredness-related lack of motivation, it’s probably because you haven’t yet identified your why. That’s scary, I know. And easier said than done. And that’s why you stay up too late playing video games, or scrolling the internet, or watching TV. You haven’t found your why yet, and you’re effectively killing time until you do. But, unfortunately, you’re also killing your time. Every minute you’re not thinking about your why, and working towards it, is another minute you’ll be drifting, and you’ll be exhausted, and you won’t leap out of bed in the morning ready to take on the world.
Finding your why
Why is what pushes us through the dark days, through the early mornings and the late nights. Why is what built the laptop you’re reading this on now, what introduced the world to the smartphone, what led your teachers to be determined to educate you, day in, day out, so you can live the happiest life you can. Look at the people who are happiest in life- they’re not necessarily the richest or the most famous, they’ve just worked out what their why is, and they’re living their why every day.
Your why could be anything. It could be to be a doctor, but it could also be to be a parent, or to help people, or to be the fittest person in your social circle. You might get hooked on running and go every day, pushing yourself to go further and faster. You might get obsessed with instagram and build a million-person following. You might have six kids and devote yourself to raising the next generation. It doesn’t matter. The point is that knowing your why will blitz lack of motivation, because you won’t have time to think about it when your mind is firing on all cylinders with ideas about how to make your why your reality.
For me, my why has always been education. The reason I get up in the morning, the reason I work till I drop, the reason I take on so much more than I probably should is because I want to change the face of education in this country. I never get enough sleep, even when I actually do. No amount of hours is enough for me, so I’m always going to be tired. Just gotta accept it. Bigger fish to fry.
So how do I find my why?
Start with the thing that bothers you most. This is what entrepreneurs do; they identify a problem, and then they strive to fix it. But the important thing is that you always try and keep it tied to something that you can fix, and not anyone else. If you’re a brilliant gamer, think about what bothers you in that space. If you read constantly, what’s the problem with books? If you have loads of younger siblings and are fabulous at keeping them entertained, how can we make that better?
You’ve got to start shaping the world to the way you want it to be, rather than trying to fit into it. A great friend of mine constantly quotes the line “You either are an entrepreneur, or you work for one.” Why would you want to work for someone else? Stop thinking “I want to be a childminder”, it won’t motivate you past your exhaustion. It’s being “a” something, not being “the” something, and that’s not thrilling, that’s just mildly satisfying. Start thinking “I want to change childminding”. I want to build something that revolutionises this world. I don’t want just to fit into it, I want to shape it.
Stop thinking “I want to be a professional gamer.” Sure, that’d be cool, but it won’t excite you past the first few years. Start thinking “I want to change gaming.” I want to build a new kind of console, a new kind of game, a new kind of reality. I want to be responsible for the games people play in twenty years. I want to shape the future.
That’ll get you out of bed in the morning.
But what do I do until I find my why?
So I’ve given you a massive task, and it probably won’t happen overnight. You’ve probably got at least a few more weeks or months of being unsure about why you do what you do, and so you’ll continue to think and waste time and grow and all the things that humans do when they’re developing. That’s cool. It takes time. Until then, here are some practical tips to help you beat tiredness when you’re studying.
Take a study break
It sounds simple, but it matters. At Study Rocket, we try very hard to make sure you use your time efficiently, and you take regular breaks. This is because the brain can only take in information solidly for a certain amount of time. Do 25 mins, then take a 5 min break. These short chunks will help you find your motivation to carry on.
Do some exercise
When you’re on your study break, a simple hack to get the blood flowing again and feel pumped to keep working is a short burst of high-intensity exercise. These might be push-ups or sit-ups, or star jumps, or a micro-dance party in your bedroom. Whatever it is, get moving, and you’ll stop feeling sleepy.
And, if all else fails… put down the books and go to bed
No-one can study indefinitely. Sometimes you need to call time on the activity. Once you’ve found your why, it can be intoxicating. And before you find it, you might be living in a state of permanent anxiety. Both of these things kill sleep, and killing sleep kills potential. It’s important to exist in a state of normal tiredness, from being too busy and having too full a life and getting not quite enough sleep. But the golden eight hours is important, so put those books down if you’re in danger of jeopardising them, and get yourself some sleep.
We hope this helped! For more posts on motivation, read our earlier blogs this week here (on how to find it when you’re stressed) and here (on when you hate a subject). Or, if you’re feeling anxious, try this one on how to put your anxiety to good use. If you’re interested in finding out more about finding your why, try this brilliant book: Find Your Why by Simon Sinek.