One of the more difficult aspects in college is finding motivation. Over the past two years at Whitewater, the most common reason I hear about why a student didn’t go to class, or why they missed a workout, or didn’t finish their homework on time is simply “I didn’t have the motivation” or “I didn’t feel like going.” What if I told you there was a way to build better habits and routines to help conserve your motivation and stay on the right track?

Fall semester of 2022 was really difficult for me and I wasn’t succeeding academically, professionally, or personally. I knew I wanted to change my life for the better, but didn’t know how. January 2023, I was introduced to a podcast by Shelby Sacco, Sad to Savage (Sad To Savage Podcast on Spotify), who recommends the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (Power of Habit: Amazon). I was quick to want to learn as much as I could about my habits and routines to find ways to change my life for the better. Slowly but surely I started to build myself back up and have taken control of my life and am proud of the work I have accomplished. If you’re reading this blog, odds are you have been in a situation where you may have lacked the motivation or drive to continue. Habits can be used as tools to help you stay on target to your personal, professional, and academic goals in college.

  1. Create Goals and Track Progress: The first step to understanding habits is to evaluate your own. What habits are you doing well at, which ones can you improve, and what are some new habits you would like to form. When I started my habit journey, I started tracking and setting my goals in a notebook, but eventually purchased an online habit tracker to monitor my progress to create and refine my daily, weekly, and monthly habits.
  2. Habit Loop: The habit loop consists of a cue, routine, and a reward. A cue is a trigger, such as bad breath in the morning. The action you take, would be the routine of brushing your teeth. The reward after is you have a clean taste in your mouth and your teeth are clean.
  3. Learn: The key to growing is actively learning in topics that interest you, new ways to express yourself and take control of your habits and be conscientious with where your time and energy are prioritized. Once you have determined what habits you want to change, focus on the routine portion of the habit loop and learn ways to build better routines to make the “difficult tasks” (like folding laundry) a little less undesirable.
  4. 1% Better: Taking action won’t always be easy, but don’t bring yourself down when everything doesn’t appear to be getting better at all. Pursue a goal of improving 1 habit everyday and striving to only be 1% better than the day prior. Months will pass and you will see that the little changes you made each day will have gotten easier because they have become habits. Eventually you will start seeing the positive effects structure and routines can play in other areas of your life.
  5. Believe in yourself: The most important and fulfilling way to genuinely see positive change in your life and in your habits is belief. When you stop searching for others’ approval is when you tell yourself repeatedly that you believe in yourself and are patient and ready to take time to grow into the best version of yourself. You are fully capable of accomplishing anything you set your mind to if you have the right tools. Your habits are your tools. Provide yourself with positive and beneficial tools to help overcome life’s obstacles.

College is a difficult transition to adulthood and I have found that relying on one’s motivation isn’t nearly enough some days. I believed I could change my life, and I did. I also believe that you can as well. It will take time but when you start feeling secure and happy with yourself, the hard work is 100% worth it in the end. College is a great time to learn as much as you can, why not learn about how to take control of the foundation of your lifestyle?