With the summer vacation coming to an end, many of us are entering the next level in education. In our competitive world, any phase can be challenging. What does the future hold for me? What career should I choose? So many questions and choices in today’s world of education can baffle us. Ups and downs in performance, days when the work load is too much, deadlines for projects and assignments can be burdensome. ‘Oh, how I wish the summer break never ended’ is a recurrent thought. If there are hurdles on the way to reaching goals we blame ourselves by saying we are not that brilliant or that nobody appreciates us for the hard work. Remember, as students, the journey of learning is often influenced by how motivated we are to make something out of it.
What are some of the factors that play a role in motivation? Steady focus on the goal, steady work to get there, and managing well despite problems is important. Taking small steps and using different options, being content with small gains keeps motivation ticking. Observe those who work steadily around us as role models. Wanting something really badly internally or for ourselves is more important than doing what others want for us or for external reasons however ‘good’. An optimistic view, feeling confident and positive thinking helps. Allot time for fun and play. Doubting our abilities won’t help. Talking to a friend, teacher, or a counsellor when we feel overwhelmed can give fresh approaches to recharge us.
Let me share a Zen story I came across, which captures the sense of how we can change our destiny by changing our perspective from a negative to a positive one when we view problems.
During a momentous battle a Japanese general decided to attack even though his army was greatly outnumbered. He was confident they would win but his men were filled with doubt. On the way to the battle they stopped at a religious shrine. After praying with the men the general took out a coin and said, “I shall now toss this coin. If it is heads we shall win. If tails we shall lose. Destiny will now reveal itself.”
He threw the coin into the air and all watched intently as it landed. It was heads. The soldiers were so overjoyed and filled with confidence that they vigorously attacked the enemy and were victorious. After the battle, a lieutenant remarked to the general, “No one can change destiny.”
“Quite right,” the general replied as he showed the lieutenant the coin, which had heads on both sides.