Social psychologists now widely believe that external rules and rewards like imposed discipline, grades and monetary benefits don’t really go a long way in
encouraging or motivating students to do better. A far better approach is to follow what we call self-determination.Self-determination means not having somebody breathing down your neck, nagging you to study at all times.What it does mean is the freedom for you to choose your own goals, follow your own schedules and define your own success.
Studying need not be a chore: If you develop an approach where studying can become more personally relevant, it will no longer be a chore. Don’t restrict yourself to monotonous textbooks; find newer and more creative ways to study and focus on real world application of concepts to make the task more enjoyable.
Be your own benchmark: Don’t choose your targets because your parents or teachers expect you to. Don’t indulge in competition or one-upmanship. Set your own targets.
Get motivated: Find what it is that motivates you – it doesn’t have to be materialistic. In fact, social and intrinsic rewards work much better. Every now and again, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.
Explore opportunities: It’s a good idea to explore different opportunities and different ways of doing things. Being self-determined allows you to be open to experiences and make your own choices – as long as you’re willing to accept the consequences.
Establish trust: Keep your parents in the loop. Talk to them about the routine you’re following and your progress, in order to keep their anxieties and apprehensions at bay.
Facilitate deeper learning: Studying for the sake of passing exams leads students to learn by rote. Taking a more self-determined approach instead will facilitate a more enriched learning where you can focus on content and meaning.
Focus on value and personal relevance: Studying because somebody said so may seem futile and lead to resentment. Instead, look for ways in which this lesson may be personally meaningful, and what you can take back from it.
Set intrinsic goals: Targets like more marks or more money are superficial and result-oriented. Having a more intrinsic goal such as personal growth, well-being and relationships can definitely be much more gratifying and rewarding.
The author is director, mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Healthcare