Have you ever had a day when you’ve thought: “Why on earth am I studying this? What possible benefits are there in continuing to study? How do I even start?”
In fact, everyone has days like these.
Because sometimes the motivation to study is nowhere in sight. It happens!
Happily, there is one sure-fire exercise you can use to answer those niggling questions AND kick your motivational mojo back into gear every single time.
And all you need is a pencil, a piece of paper, and 5-10 minutes.
What are YOUR reasons “why”?
To fix a motivational slump you need to find – or remember – your purpose: your internal motivations to study, your reasons “why”.
How? By answering one important question:
Why do I want to achieve academic success?
(If that question doesn’t work for you, try one of these: Why do I study? What compels me to study? Why do I want to learn?)
The answers are probably not immediately obvious – and that’s OK! In fact, if they aren’t then this exercise will be even more important for your motivation.
To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of great reasons “why” just below.
The simple (and satisfying!) reasons “why” exercise
Ready to get started? Great!
This exercise is really simple:
Grab that pencil and paper, find a comfy seat, browse our list of suggestions, and spend 5-10 minutes identifying and writing down the reasons “why” that resonate with you.
This is an exercise that will work wonders for your motivation whichever stage of your academic journey you’re at – high school, college, university, research, or studying for a different qualification.
You can even use it to remind yourself why you’ve taken your academic path.
And you don’t have to get it right first time – as your academic journey progresses, you’re sure to find more reasons “why” to add to your list! Think of it as a continual project you can return to every time you need a motivational boost.
Here’s an example brainstorm:
What’s more, the motivation to succeed is often stronger when you have a clear idea about the next steps you want to take in life – so knowing your reasons for studying is a solid foundation for setting yourself meaningful study goals!
Let’s get started with those reasons!
1. The joy of success and achievement
There’s nothing quite like the rush of pride and relief when you reach your goals or achieve the grades you want. Particularly if they’re top grades.
And these achievements provide important boosts to self-confidence and self-esteem.
Until then, visualising the moment you get your grades can be a powerful incentive to keep going!
2. Earn praise from others
If you like to please your parents and teachers, this might ring a bell, especially if you don’t want to let them down.
Don’t forget to find a reason to pursue your studies for yourself too!
Alternatively, perhaps you want to be praised as someone intelligent and smart: and need to study for the grades and qualifications that will help you achieve that goal.
3. Be the best
Many of us have a competitive spirit that drives a desire to be the best – in our class, our year, our field…
Competition is a common motivational kite!
Becoming the best, at the top of your field, it is a lofty (likely impossible) goal BUT you can try.
4. Engage with your self-development
Here’s another way to be the best:
Working towards being the best version of yourself is highly motivating and rewarding, and a key benefit of continual studying.
What’s more, knowing that you’re developing good habits and continually learning new skills can create a strong sense of who you are and who you want to be.
5. Advance your academic goals
Having effective study goals is an important part of the motivational process.
And those goals are often intertwined with where you want to go academically – to your top-choice university, or to study a particular discipline.
The drive to achieve those goals can be an important reason why you keep on studying!
6. Fulfil your (academic) dreams
Have you got a long-held dream about your (academic) future – such as a place at university, a career as a doctor, writing a best-selling novel?
If so, working towards the fulfilment of that dream is often one of the strongest and most reliable motivations to study you can have.
7. Secure a place at a good university or programme
Do you want to study abroad? Qualify for a particular course? Attend the top university in the world for your subject?
Your academic track record will usually determine whether you get to study your ideal subject at your dream institution.
So achieving the right grades throughout your academic journey is important – to meet the course requirements, or to be awarded scholarships or research grants.
8. Meaningful career prospects and opportunities
Academic goals are often the precursor to a successful, satisfying career.
Why? Because academic success can open an awful lot of doors, and make it considerably easier to get where you want to be. Sounds like a great benefit of getting down to studying today!
As many career paths require the right choices and courses in school and beyond, having a clear ambition for your career is an important part of knowing why you’re studying!
9. Plan for the future
What future are you building for yourself?
It might not be part of your plan yet, but long-term goals about your future lifestyle (and that of your potential family) are definitely worth considering!
Ask yourself: Where do I want to be in 10 years’ time? And in 20, and 30 years?
10. Live with no regrets
Whilst it might not seem like it now, decades down the line you will be grateful that you gave it your best shot and took all the opportunities offered to you.
11. Achieve things others haven’t
There are two sides to this reason to study:
Firstly, you might long to achieve academic success because others in your family or community haven’t had that opportunity.
Alternatively, you might hope to one day make innovations and inventions that better human society – to become a valuable specialist in your field in your country, even globally!
See how far you can go, and let that desire drive your motivation to study.
12. Prove others wrong
Perhaps someone (even your past self) once doubted you would ever amount to much.
The desire to prove yourself, and stand up to the doubters from your past, can be a strong motivator to succeed in your academic career!
13. Make a difference in the world
For many students, their motivation to study comes from the desire to help people, make an impact, and leave a mark – whether in their chosen field, or upon the people they want to work with.
Working as a researcher, in medicine, in social care, or as an educator (and more) – there are many future career paths that will allow you to make a difference in our world.
14. Enjoy the challenge – it’s fun!
Perhaps you’re motivated to study because you enjoy the challenge of learning and engaging with new material.
Knowing that you’re using your brain and expanding your knowledge can be hugely satisfying (and as an added bonus, staves off boredom!).
15. Love of your subject
If you’re lucky you love a subject that you study. Having the opportunity to enjoy the process of learning or researching in that field is highly motivating.
Even better, studying now will help you to achieve the grades you need to pursue your passion as a career. So keep on studying, and reap the benefits!
16. To gain knowledge
Continually learning and accumulating knowledge isn’t only satisfying and fun – it can also build your confidence and strength as a person, fill your curiosity about the world, and help you to develop important life skills.
17. Understand how the world you live in works
This is one for those of you with boundless curiosity, for there is so much to learn about the world!
Whether your subject is physics, sociology, economics, psychology, geography, history …
Learning about our cultures and societies, our histories, and the Earth itself, will help you better understand your place in it, and even develop a better sense of self and where you want to go.
Why study: the benefits of studying
You might have noticed the title of this article promised reasons AND benefits.
And some of you may have spotted that many of the 17 reasons explored above are benefits of studying.
So let’s have a quick overview of some of the benefits – to your life and your motivation – that studying can have:
- Skill development – both academic and transferrable skills, from time management to critical thinking
- Increased employment and career opportunities – more than you will have considered!
- Development of good habits, self-understanding, and perseverance
- A sense of accomplishment from the achievement of your study goals and earning qualifications!
- Increased self-confidence in your abilities
- Continual expansion and enrichment of your knowledge and understanding – being open-minded to the world
- The ability to pursue your passion(s)
- The enjoyment of learning!
- Increased social experiences and opportunities
- Access to communities, peers, mentors and top professionals globally
If you’d like to develop this motivational exercise a little further:
Add a second column to your piece of paper, and jot down the benefits of studying that align with your reasons “why”. Seeing all the benefits laid out will feel great!
Hopefully, making your own lists of reasons for studying have boosted your motivation and you’re feeling inspired to get to work!
Trust me: get this right, and your motivation to study will SOAR. Remember, knowing your reasons “why” is a really reliable motivational kite that you can rely on over, and over again. So return to your lists every time your motivation dips!
What motivates YOU to study? We’d love to hear your reasons – leave us a comment below!
And if you’re looking for more exercises, tips and strategies to help you develop consistent study motivation and killer study habits, make sure to sign up for the Exam Study Expert newsletter below, and claim your awesome free gift!
-  Are AP US Government & Politics and AP Comparative Government and Politics Hard or Easy? Difficulty Rated ‘Quite Easy’ (Real Student Reviews + Pass Data) - 5 Jan 2024
-  Is AP Human Geography Hard or Easy? Difficulty Rated ‘Quite Easy’ (Real Student Reviews + Pass Data) - 5 Jan 2024
-  Is AP Microeconomics Hard or Easy? Difficulty Rated ‘Quite Easy’ (Real Student Reviews + Pass Data) - 5 Jan 2024