It's only 3 more weeks of my life - but what if I get hit by a bus? I want to enjoy myself but am trying to be sensible
May 18, 2010 6:31 AM   Subscribe

I am 3 weeks away from finishing my first on-campus semester of university. After much though, last week I decided that I will definitely not be continuing my studies - and now I am struggling to motivate myself to finish the semester. How can I get motivated? Or should I just not bother (secretly want to hear this but know it's not sensible, and I should at least try to pass so as not to burn bridges)

I am 3 weeks away from finishing my first on-campus semester of university. I'm 26 and thought I wanted to study to change careers, and also for the fun of it. I've now realised that no, I don't. I really like learning new things but I hate doing essays etc, and I have actually fallen in love with the job that I got "just to get me through uni" and no longer want to persue the career I was considering badly enough to go through 6 years of study, earn only a part time income and not be able to concentrate on my hobbies (plus I find it quite stressful) - and my boss is super keen for me to go full time. I have an essay due on Thursday which I've barely started, and I am struggling like crazy to motivate myself to do this, and to prepare for exams/finish my other remaining assignment - but I feel like the sensible thing to do would be to stick it out for another 3 weeks so I don't finish with a fail - just in case I want to apply again in the future (I had to do 2 units by correspondence to be accepted). I'm so, so, so keen to just stop completely now and start doing all the things I've been fantasizing about doing as soon as I'm done with the semester - such as devoting my attention back to the sport I almost gave away in order to concentrate on studying, picking up bass guitar again, and just generally relaxing!

How can I get myself to tough it out the next 3 weeks when I don't feel like I have a particularly great reason to, besides guilt to myself if I don't, in case I ever want to go back to uni? I'm finding myself just procrastinating and not enjoying not studying because I feel guilty, but I also can't seem to get myself to do the work either. I'm not a lazy person. When my mind is set on a goal I work my ass off, but now that this isn't my goal and I just want out - what to do?
posted by Chrysalis to Education (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I know, from personal experience, that the urge to quit to start all of those shiny new things that you now want to do is a lot brighter than the dull alternative of finishing out the semester. I KNOW how alluring it is. However, if you give up now, all of these last few months of work will have been for nothing, and the money you've spent (or had to borrow) in order to go to school for this semester will have been wasted. Your hobbies will be there waiting for you in 3 weeks. Twenty-one days is really not very long to wait. It's less than a month!

Finish the semester and then never look back.
posted by scarykarrey at 6:38 AM on May 18, 2010

Remove as many distractions as possible, sit down with your paper, and put a rubber band around your wrist. When you get distracted, snap yourself with the rubber band. When the paper is satisfactorily complete (no BS, you know what an acceptable paper looks like) get up and leave it all behind.
posted by anaelith at 6:41 AM on May 18, 2010

At some point, you may wish to return to school. Therefore, since you've already paid for the opportunity to earn credits, you may as well earn them in the hopes that they will be transferable.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:41 AM on May 18, 2010

Remind yourself of the cost. Not finishing is a waste of money and time.
posted by theora55 at 7:00 AM on May 18, 2010

You know you need to do this. It's three weeks of your life - they will pass in the blink of an eye. Just focus on what you need to do and get through it. You won't regret finishing, and you very well might someday regret blowing this off.
posted by something something at 7:03 AM on May 18, 2010

Best answer: Given that it's only three weeks, I think it's worth completing your semester. You don't have to write a brilliant essay and ace your exams; as a wise person once told me, if something's worth doing, it's worth doing badly.
posted by kitcat at 7:05 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You can do anything -- ANYTHING -- for three weeks. This is what I tell myself when struggling with something difficult but with a defined end point. (I only have to be pregnant for nine months! I can do ANYTHING for nine months!) Make yourself a paper chain where you get to tear one off every day if it helps, or a giant calendar you get to make giant Xs through. Three weeks is not that long -- remind yourself it's just three more weeks of focused slog and then you will be DONE and FREE and it's OVER and you won't ever have to do it again because you FINISHED it. (Whereas if you blow it off and don't finish, if you ever decide to go back to uni, you'll have to redo what you blew off, which sucks.)

Which is also, incidentally, how I passed a mandatory swim test -- "I can do this for 200 yards because otherwise they're going to make me do this every day for six solid months ..."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:05 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I did what you're thinking about doing, dropped out of school in the middle of a semester, but too late to officially withdraw, and so flunked most of the classes I was in. Later, when I was much older, I went back school in something completely different, and this made things much more difficult.

Stick out the three weeks. You're keeping your options open. You may not ever want to go back to school, but if you do, a couple weeks of drudgery you put in now will be worth it.
posted by nangar at 7:21 AM on May 18, 2010

Best answer: Just stick it out. Having the completed marks for your classes will be worth it later if you decide to go back. You don't have to get As, you just have to pass. You can do that! If it seems too much, break it up into tiny goals. One thing I find helpful when I really get unmotivated about doing an assignment is to get a kitchen timer, set it for an hour, and tell myself that I've only got to work for the hour. I can slog through anything for only an hour, and then I can go do something else if I want. Don't think about how it's three weeks, don't think about everything on the to-do list. Just go for one hour on that one essay. Once the hour is over, you can pick up your guitar or go outside or just nap, whatever you want to! And then do another "only an hour" when you get stuck again.

It's a total mind hack, but it works. Usually I find my groove (somewhere around the 45 minute mark) and get surprised by the timer dinging, and then I'm just "well, screw it, I might as well get done with this bit," though sometimes I phew and wander away. Breaking things up into tiny bits of time (rather than insurmountable "read 100 pages" or "do the outline and then write 5 pages" chunks) works well for me. Just think -- you can do anything for an hour! It's only an hour, that's nothing. Then when you need to do something else off the to-do list, do it for another hour. It really destroys the "oh man, that's so much work" obstacle in my brain because it stops being a pile of work and turns into only an hour. Hours are easy. You can do anything, no matter how tedious or pointless, for an hour. For only three weeks. :)
posted by sldownard at 1:08 PM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Well it's all done now and I'm glad I didn't burn my bridges :)
posted by Chrysalis at 8:07 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:34 PM on June 13, 2010

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