Motivation and Balance

The semester is moving forward, and the closer we get to summer, the less I care about school. Every year, I start my classes with the best intentions — but by the time we get to April and May, I find it harder and harder to stay at my desk and focus when I could be outside, spending time with my friends and enjoying my life. At the same time, the harder I work, the less time I make for self-care. Finding a balance is a real challenge for me.

For that reason, when I try to motivate myself during the end of the semester, I focus just as much on balance and happiness as I do on pure hard work. Aggressive motivation (in the style of “When you want to succeed as much as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful”— a real quote that I hear too often) doesn’t work for me. I need give and take, and a real image of what I’m working towards in order to stay motivated long-term. Today I’m showing you how I motivate myself for both success and happiness.

I identify and visualize what I want

I’ve always visualized what I wanted in the form of a motivation collage, which I talk about in my eBook and in my Ultimate Guide to College Motivation (the idea is that you search magazines and the Internet for photos that inspire you, and then glue them into a poster). But recently, a company called Gloment reached out to me about making a customized motivational poster, and it piqued my interest.

Gloment creates customized posters for you that help you visualize the life you want. After ordering one of their posters, you receive a link to a questionnaire about your ideal life: where you live, when you wake up, what inspires you. Even answering the questionnaire was a pretty profound experience for me, because it really made me think about who I am and what I want out of life. To see the kind of questions they ask, check out this video:

(This post isn’t sponsored, but the company did send me one of their posters for free to try out – and I really love it! The link I use for Gloment is also an affiliate link, which means that I get a few cents if you order one of their posters through me, though you are in no way obligated to do so. If you do, thank you for your support.)

After you answer the questions, the company puts together a customized motivational poster. Here’s the one they made me.


Sara Laughed - Gloment Poster

I love having a poster like this because it reminds me of the kind of life that I want after graduation. To get and live that life, I need to work hard in school, but also find a balance between my academic work and my happiness. My poster is actually more about a well-rounded and balanced life than it is about straight-up success, and I love that.

If a poster doesn’t work for you, you can also visualize what you want through a motivational collage (tutorial here) or by answering the questions in my college motivation worksheets, which you can download by using my college resource library. (To get the password for the library, sign up here.)

Download the worksheet packet here!

Whether you prefer a poster, a collage, or a worksheet, the idea is simple: figure out the kind of life you want to live, and visualize it.

I remind myself daily

Whenever I’m trudging through an assignment or struggling to focus in class, I bring my attention back to remind myself what I’m doing it all for. The same goes for self-care and balance; when my priorities don’t match my ideals, I try to refocus. After you know what motivates you, return to it daily (I personally reread my poster pretty regularly when I feel discouraged). Read your poster, look at your collage, or reference your worksheets. Whatever you do, make regular inspiration a part of your daily life. If you notice that the method of motivation that had worked for you for a while isn’t working anymore, then it’s possible that your ideal life has changed. Adjust accordingly by answering Gloment-style questions again, making a new collage, or seeking inspiration in new media, like Pinterest or different magazines.

I re-focus on balance as often as I can

It’s easy when we think about motivation to only focus on the more challenging aspects of our lives. We need motivation for healthy lives, for success in college, and for advancement in the workplace. But we also need motivation to live healthy and balanced lives. Few things discourage me from my schoolwork faster than a total, nonstop commitment to school. Within days, I get burned out and I want to put it all the way. As always, the key to avoiding this while still succeeding is balance.

For that reason, my “perfect life” doesn’t include only work and school, but also love and fun. For me, it’s easy to go entirely one way or the other; working day and night, and then doing nothing for days. As I try to find a middle-ground, I’ve realized that living a well-rounded and fulfilling life that gives me space to breathe is really what makes me happy. My poster helps remind me of the kind of life I want: a well-rounded life, with success and fulfillment in multiple areas. I hope you’ll consider incorporating the same mindset into your own life. I truly believe it’s worth the effort.

Sara Laughed

Hey hey! I'm Sara, an American writer living in the Netherlands and working as a product manager.

  1. Delaney says:

    Thank you Sara for this lovely reminder of balancing life. When it comes down to it, I think taking care of yourself makes the work that you do so much more rewarding, and vice versa. Have a wonderful last few weeks of the semester!

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