Keeping it Reel

High School Students: 6 Ways to Get Motivated

Whether you’re preparing for your final exams, the ACT, or trying to get a few college applications done, getting motivated can be incredibly difficult. With summer vacation just around the corner, every time you sit down to start your work, you end up daydreaming about swimming, camping, skating, and just hanging out in the sun.

So in the face of this sunny temptation, how do you keep up with your work? How do you finish strong? Check out these six things you can do to stay motivated.



1. Make a to-do list

The first thing you should do is make a to-do list.  Just write down everything you need to get done and everything you need to do to make sure those things get done. For example, if you are trying to work up the motivation to study for an exam, your to-do list might look something likes this:


  1. Complete review packet
  2. Re-read chapters as needed
  3. Review past tests and quizzes
  4. Make notecards of important material

Putting all of these things under the larger umbrella of “studying” may lead you to being overwhelmed with all of the work you have to do.  Making a list of smaller to-dos will help you digest your task more easily. Think of it this way: what’s easier to swallow, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, or a Reese’s Pieces?

2. Set goals

Once you have made your to-do list, it is important to set goals. Goals remind you of what you are working towards and why. Try to set a goal for each of the following areas:


  1. Preparation
  2. Result
  3. Deeper Desire

In the case of studying for an exam, our goals might look like this:


  1. Preparation goal: Complete all items on my to-do list. Study for 1 hour every day during the two weeks leading up to the exam.
  2. Result goal: Receive a 92% or higher on the exam. Achieve an A in the class.
  3. Deeper desire goal: Get into every college I want to go to.

Make sense? Your preparation goal should be directly related to the task you need to get motivated for. In the instance of studying for an exam, this would be the actual studying itself. So our goal is to complete all of the to-do list items and to study for 1 hour every day leading up to the exam.

Your result goal should be related to the consequences of your efforts. In this case, we are getting motivated and studying for the exam because we want to get a 92% or higher on the exam and receive an A in the class.

Lastly, the deeper desire goal should be your number one reason for being motivated. In this case, why do we want to study, and why do we want an A? The answer could be that we want to make sure we get into all of our “top colleges.”

If you set goals on all three of these levels, you should constantly be reminded of what you need to do and why you need to do it. With your “deeper desire” at the forefront of your mind, you should have no problem pushing through periods of discouragement.


3. Set Rewards

A great way to boost your motivation is to set rewards for yourself. Tell yourself that if you study for an hour, you can watch thirty minutes of your favorite Netflix series (just don’t end up binge watching it). Or if you finish three college applications during the week, you can treat yourself to something nice on the weekend.

If you need a little help with this, see if your parents will make a deal with you. That way, they are in charge of the reward and will hold you accountable for your actions.


4. Plot Your Progress

Sometimes it isn’t the motivation to start that is the issue, but the motivation to keep going. How many times have you been midway through an assignment only to end up playing video games and having to finish it the next day?

If you want to make sure you stay motivated throughout your work, plot your progress. Being aware of how much you have done will give you a sense of accomplishment that may just be enough to push you through your work.


5. Make it fun

One of the easiest ways to get motivated is to find a way to make your work fun. I know it seems impossible to make filming out applications or studying for a test fun, but there are ways. For example, filling out college applications with friends makes the work go by a lot faster. Instead of dreading the work, you look forward to talking to your friends and getting their opinions. As for studying, instead of quizzing yourself, why not grab a few classmates and play trivia!

If you can find a way to enjoy your work, you won’t need motivation – or rather your motivation will be the enjoyment you get from doing it.

One last tip…

Take a break! Remember that sometimes you don’t need more motivation, you just need a little break! If you’ve been working for an hour or so, take twenty minutes to relax and recharge! Watch a YouTube video, get up and run around, take a weird Buzzfeed quiz, do whatever you feel like. You’ll come back to your work with a new attitude and a refreshed mind.

Speaking of quizzes…

If you need a break filler and a motivation lifter, check out our Emphases Quiz. By answering a few short questions, you can find out which Film Emphases (directing, acting, editing and visual effects, cinematography, new media, sound, producing, or writing) matches up with your personality and skill set. Just click below to get started!

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This blog is a collaborative effort by CCA staff and administration who want to share their knowledge with the film school community and prospective students.