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This pamphlet offers a number of ideas on how to maintain motivation.

How to be motivated

There are a number of questions to ask yourself if you are feeling unmotivated:

  • How have you motivated yourself in the past?
  • Do you set goals?
  • What distracts you from achieving what you want to do?

Motivation comes from within us. Our level of motivation is affected by such things as stress and can lead to, or be caused by other feelings such as anxiety and depression. Motivation begins with establishing a series of goals or planning a desired direction; this can be helped by:

Goal Setting

Goals need to be identified. They should be realistic and achievable. Setting short-term goals is important at first because they are usually more easily achieved. This leads to a greater sense of achievement and once out of the way can lead on to bigger goals.


What we want for ourselves or what others expect of us can be a source of pressure. Expectations need to be realistic. Beliefs about what we think we should be able to achieve also need to match how we are feeling at the time. Expecting too much of ourselves can undermine motivation.


Determine what you really want to achieve and ‘go for it’. It is easier to motivate ourselves when the courses we are studying really interest us. However we also need to find ways to motivate ourselves in subjects which interest us less but are a necessary part of our programme. Others taking an interest in what we are doing can also help, get their support where you can.


Be aware of the types of things that inhibit what you want to achieve. If, for example, you are trying to get started on study, set up the area in which you normally study in a way that is free from distractions. Things that may have a negative effect on motivation include; television, telephone, radio, and unplanned interruptions such as phone calls or text messages.


Setting realistic goals should result in a pay off. Rewarding yourself for achieving something you have set out to do is an important part of planning. Rewards focus us on the end result as well as help in getting started. This can help in gaining a sense of control over the problem rather than it controlling us.

Other Strategies

Motivation and performance go together. Motivation leads to performance and performance can increase motivation. So where do you start…?

  • Make positive statements to yourself. Be aware of what you are telling yourself eg; statements such as: "I have to do this…" can add to stress try; " I can do this…" ..Instead of " I need to do this…" . try "I want to do this…"
  • Encourage yourself - small changes are OK. Keep a record of what you are achieving. Seeing how far you have come can be a factor on its own in increasing motivation. Do a timetable for yourself.
  • Use imagery, for example, imagine a time when you did feel really motivated, what was it that made the difference - try and use this to your advantage.
  • Become aware of how your thoughts and feelings affect your motivation. Faced with a particular set of circumstances we react in a certain way based on our thoughts or belief systems. This leads to certain reactions or feelings, which affect our level of motivation. Being aware of how and why we react to certain events is the first step to understanding that what we tell ourselves impacts on our level of motivation.

Where to from here?

If you would like to make an appointment to see a counsellor to learn more about this topic please contact the counselling service on your campus.  Distance students can contact any one of the campuses.

Please tell the receptionist if you need an urgent appointment.

Albany: Health and Counselling Centre Monday to Friday 8.30 am - 5.00 pm. Telephone (09) 213 6700.

Manawatu: Student Counselling Service, Turitea Campus, Monday to Friday 8.30 am - 5.00 pm (8.30 - 4.30 during semester breaks). Telephone (06) 350-5533.

Wellington: Student Counselling Service, The Student Services Trust @ Wellington, Monday to Friday 8.30 am - 4.30 pm. Telephone (04) 801-2542.

Massey Contact Centre Mon - Fri 8:30am to 4:30pm 0800 MASSEY (+64 6 350 5701) TXT 5222 Web chat Staff Alumni News Māori @ Massey