It would be logical to assume that the closer you get towards a goal, the more motivated you become towards completed. If you were stranded in the desert, and new you had 50km to walk to the next source of water, you would feel pretty accomplished at the 25km right? I mean 25km is a long way to come.
This may not actually be the case. In fact research from the Kellogg School of Management has discovered that there is a halfway “stuck in the middle” chasm that it can be easy to fall into, and it is here that goals plans and projects are most at risk from unraveling. In our example above, it’s just as easy to turn back as it is going forward. Avoiding the chasm often depends on how we relate to our goals.
In this way, motivation becomes you U- shaped, it tends to start high at in the beginning of your work or project and tends to sink to a low point, in the middle before rising again as we approach the goal or end game. In the middle, our motivation tends to flag as attention shifts from the starting point to the end point.
This feeling is no more prevalent at the midway point of the semester. It’s often the point when you realise just how much work you have to do. Perhaps you have lots of assignments due at around the same time. Perhaps you still haven’t quite got your head around understanding the core concepts of your studies. And the end seems miles away. So how do we maintain motivation at the halfway mark?
Shift your perception
Often, a shift in perception is all that is needed. Make sure you take time to look back and reflect and mark what you have achieved, even if it is just making it to the halfway mark. This can be an achievement in and of itself, especially if your journey has been particularly challenging. Then, shift your focus and look forward to the end, to what you will achieve if you keep going.
Break tasks down into manageable chunks
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all that you still need to achieve, break down your “ to do list” into manageable chunks. For example, if you’ve got a difficult major assignment to complete, break it down into smaller tasks such as planning, research, writing, editing and then tackle each as an individual task.
Change the way you complete tasks
If you’re feeling stuck, change the way you traditionally do tasks. This could be as simple as changing where you do them. If you normally work from home, head to the library or your favorite café for part of it.
Bring in others.
Feel free to seek advice from others, be it lecturers, fellow students or a trusted mentor or adviser. Sometimes just having a conversation about what you’re struggling with can be just enough to change your perspective and move forward. Or if a task is particularly tiresome it can help you to realise how important it is in achieving your overall goal.
Refresh. Reset. Repeat.
If you’re not being productive, don’t force yourself to wade through it. Take a break, get fresh air, engage in activities that do motivate you. This might be playing your favourite sport, learning or craft or just hanging out with friends and family.
So, if you’re feeling stuck, relax. Smile and pat yourself on the back. You’re halfway there. The end is closer than you think.