Conquering the sophomore slump

How to find motivation when it seems impossible

A.J. Newth, Staff Writer

We live in a world where everything has a level of difficulty to it.

Whether it’s achieving good grades, applying for a dream job or just trying to get out of bed in the morning, everything can be a challenge.

Before college, I didn’t need motivation. I was determined and driven, but only because those around me pushed me to be. I had a set schedule of school, sports and work, with few decisions being made on my own. Even my first year at Quinnipiac University felt scheduled. Between Residential Life events, club and organization meetings, everyone around me seemed to be experiencing the same adjustment from high school to complete independence.

As a sophomore, life feels different. Motivation is no longer crowd-sourced by those around me. It feels like every person I know has their own goals and has figured out who they are and what they want to do in life. I know I’m not the only one who feels they’re falling behind.

I have always felt the pressure of expectations. Everyone around me seems to think I am capable of great things. However, those same people have never walked a day in my shoes.

Each person has their own unique struggles when it comes to staying motivated. Some choose to talk about the things that make their lives hard, while others choose to struggle silently. Nonetheless, everyone’s challenges look different, and it is impossible to understand the real world perspective of another person.

If you asked me two weeks ago how I was feeling about college, I would have laughed at you. I was struggling to get out of bed, eat three meals a day and drink enough water, let alone staying on track academically and with extracurriculars. The slight changes I have made to shift my focus towards my motivation had an incredible impact on my mental health and mindset.

There are many different ways to stay motivated. Some things I added into my lifestyle have been regular journaling, motivational podcasts on my walks to class, and a regular routine in the gym a few times a week. Health Direct, an online supplement retailer, recommends surrounding yourself with positive people, finding mentors and setting achievable goals. However, in college, setting an achievable goal can seem impossible when even the littlest things feel big.

Staying motivated also helps with adaptability. As we respond to changes in our environment, shutting down and disengaging always seems like an easy way out. Motivation helps us to take corrective action through fluctuating circumstances and strengthens mental wellbeing. When mental health becomes difficult to manage, staying motivated feels like the last thing to focus on, however it can actually help through a depressive or anxious episode, according to Positive Psychology, an online mental health resource.

I am a firm believer that all goals are achievable with hard work. The most difficult part of working towards a goal is finding the incentive to do so. It is easy to be distracted by every aspect of life, from the media, to our families and even friendships. The toughest part of finding motivation is realizing that in order to be successful, you have to start putting yourself first.

Taking care of yourself is the pathway to fulfillment and high performance in work and in life. If you feel better about yourself and your goals, it is easier to be supportive of those around you, according to MSNBC. Staying motivated proves to be extremely difficult if you prioritize others over yourself, which is why it’s essential to find your own inspiration without the influence of others.

The best way to avoid lack of motivation is by giving yourself credit for the little things you achieve no matter how small. It’s also beneficial to be gentle with yourself and understand that some days are harder than others. Additional things to try include writing down positive experiences throughout the day, staying organized and asking for help when it’s needed, according to the Mental Health Foundation.

College can be very stressful, and there’s a lot of pressure to succeed in the eyes of those around us. The best way to find success is to define it ourselves. It’s crucial to find motivation in every aspect of life, especially when it seems like everyone else knows what’s best for you.

My advice to anyone struggling to find motivation, especially sophomores, is to lean onto the community around you. Even though college is the epitome of first-time independence for many people, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Also know that not every day needs to be a motivational day. It is okay to miss a class or sleep through a few alarms, breaks are necessary and well deserved.

At the end of the day, the only person who can really motivate us is ourselves. Take some time to discover what success means to you, set goals and push yourselves to achieve them. Life isn’t easy, but I believe through motivation, it’s possible to accomplish anything.