How to stay motivated while doing your LLM Program

Staying motivatedYou’ve started your LLM and the buzz you got when you were accepted onto the program is gone. Now you
need to find ways stay motivated. Motivation is about having an incentive to do something. Being self-motivated involves you providing yourself with that incentive. Remaining continuously self-motivated can be tough but it can be done. Everyone experiences ups and downs in their energy levels but there are a few ways that you can stay motivated throughout your LLM program.

Are you bored?

Perhaps your course is not as challenging as you’d expected, and you’re losing interest fast. Well you’re in it now so unless you’re prepared to change courses, you should try to make the most of it and see it through to the end. If you’re bored because you’re finding it very easy, you could start tutoring others. If your peers don’t want to be tutored by you then find a challenge outside your LLM course; perhaps tutor undergrads or A-Level students. Finding fulfilment outside your course will provide the fuel you need to continue with your LLM.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

If on the other hand you’re struggling with your course, don’t attack your own self-esteem by thinking that you’re slow, because you can be sure that many other students in your class are in the same boat. Seek out help quickly by talking to the course convener, your tutor or the academic support officer. Adjust your study plan so that you give more of your time to the modules you are struggling with, and join (or create) a study group for your problem areas. There’s no point allocating your time in equal weighting to all your modules if you are struggling with some more than others.

Maintain a sense of purpose

Continuously remind yourself of why you applied and what your mid- to long-term goals are. If your goals suddenly seem a long way away and you start to think “what’s the point?”, remember that every day you get through takes you closer to your goal. Mentally fast-forward to the day you step up to the podium to receive your certificate, visualise yourself putting your LLM on your CV and imagine the sense of achievement you will feel.

Remember how much it costs!

LLMs aren’t cheap and if you’re paying for it yourself, it could help to remind yourself of the cost. If you’re paying for lectures, you should attend them and if you’re paying for your assignments to be assessed and feedback provided, do the assignments and get value for your money. Use every single resource available to you because heck, you’re paying for it!

Eat well, drink a little

This is common advice that really is true. Try to eat breakfast (or brunch) to get you going through the day, and have a decent dinner with some vegetables and a piece of fruit afterwards. Skipping meals makes you more likely to reach for fast food or snacks, leaving you malnourished and prone to headaches that affect your concentration. Hopefully your binge-drinking days have been left in your undergrad past, leaving you clear-headed to face your LLM.

Sing, hum, tap your feet, dance

Forget caffeine hits and sugar rushes, music has the power to elevate your mood instantly. Develop playlists with music to suit your negative moods; one playlist to calm you down when you’re stressed, another to pick you up when you’re sad and energetic music to put that zing back into life when all you want to do is laze about in bed. When you’re tired of your old sequence, hit ‘shuffle’ and listen to your entire music library randomly or swop playlists with classmates. 

Write it all down

Staying Motivated

Not everyone is a list maker and some people prefer to keep it all in their head, which works for them. However, with the pressure of an LLM weighing on you, you might find it helps to be your own Personal Assistant. Write down everything you have to do, indicating which are urgent (requiring immediate action e.g. with looming deadlines), which are important but not urgent, and which can be done when you’re free.

Talk to someone

If despite all these tips you still feel chronically lethargic and unable to focus or concentrate, seek medical help to be sure that you aren’t experiencing the symptoms of depression. Or if you’d rather avoid the clinical route, try speaking to the college counsellor, who would have had experience dealing with students experiencing emotional difficulties.

Don’t isolate yourself; socialise!

Your LLM program should not be all study, study, study. It’s a marvellous opportunity to create lasting professional links so put yourself out there, join groups, talk to people within and outside your course, chat on student forums and generally network as though you are the managing director of your own little firm. Broadening your base of professional contacts prepares you for life after your LLM and should motivate you to continue with the course right through to the end.

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