Female student motivated with books

So everything will be better this semester

When university starts again, students are bursting with good intentions. With tips from our columnist, you can sustain these intentions until the end of the semester.

“Everything will be better in the new semester.”

I don’t even know how many times I’ve heard these words in my office hours. Unfortunately, I had to witness almost as often how those same students fell back into old, unproductive behavior patterns after just a few days. At the same time, I believe the students are serious. There is a spirit of optimism, they want to change something – but they are going about it the wrong way.

Good resolutions are not enough to successfully complete a semester from the first day to the last. Instead, you need three things in particular: Motivation, motivation and motivation.

picture shows book with quote

Motivation from day one

If you manage to motivate yourself and keep learning, you will pass your exams. Only if you overcome procrastination and work persistently towards your goals will you lead a successful student life. And enjoy it every single day. To help you get that done in your new semester, I have four useful strategies for you.

Keep the end in mind right from the start

Many students have the planning horizon of a mayfly. I don’t mean that in a bad way. Mayflies are noble insects, eating all the time and mating until just before they die. During your studies, however, other skills are more important – planning and foresight, for example. The bestselling author Stephen Covey formulated a rule for success: Keep the end in mind from the beginning.

Which means something like: Before you start anything, see where you want to go. Because you can only be sure that you are going in the right direction if you set off with a clear goal.

For your studies this means: Focus on the end of the semester from the beginning of the semester. What challenges are waiting for you? What do you have to do to successfully pass this? What goals do you want to achieve? Speaking of goals…

Formulate power goals

Many students think they have goals. In reality, however, they only have a few dreams running through their heads. And that is exactly the problem. Without crystal clear goals you will never be able to motivate yourself. I am now going to show you a rule to help: the 3Ps rule. It helps you turn your goals into concrete tasks and action plans. The three Ps stand for: Personal, Positive, Present

Each of your goals should begin with the word “I.” According to author Brian Tracy, this acts as a direct instruction to your subconscious. Also, your goals should be positive, because that creates a stronger mental picture. Last but not least, your goals should be in the present tense – this underlines your intention to act. So: “I study every day for my degree” or “I pass all my exams”.

picture shows preparing for exams

Sign a semester contract

But who makes sure you meet your goals? Actually nobody; nobody but yourself. Unfortunately, sometimes you are too lenient with yourself. That’s why you should put a shovel of commitment on top: Make a contractwith yourself.

Contracts are agreements set in stone. And it is because of this formal and moral obligation that contracts work so well for motivational issues. So take one of your goals, set the terms of the contract and turn it into an official agreement that you seal with your signature.

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Introduce non-zero days

A semester isn’t a sprint – it’s a marathon. And you don’t just shake a successful marathon out of your sleeve. You win a marathon with many small, continuous steps. This is exactly what non-zero days will help you with. A non-zero day is a day when you don’t do nothing, i.e. a day when you work at least a tiny bit towards your goals. It doesn’t have to be much, but more than nothing – more than zero. This makes it a lot easier for you to build and maintain productive habits.

The formula for success is: Only work a little bit – but every day. Specifically about: Read the textbook for five minutes every day. Study flashcards for ten minutes every day. Or solve 30 minutes of exercises every day. Yes, that also means on weekends. Over a whole semester, these times add up to a remarkable academic performance, with which you will almost automatically become successful.

picture shows quote


If you want to flip the switch in the new semester and finally reach your full potential, then stop making big talks. Take action and change something. Albert Einstein is said to have once said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

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