I mentioned in my post on self-motivation techniques that doing less in the beginning is a good rule for staying motivated. I’ve found that this simple maxim is particularly effective when we want to be consistent at studying.

This tip is useful for self-learners specifically, because we are not studying within the confines of an institution, and are therefore not obligated to satisfy certain criteria within a set timelimit. But if you are confident to apply this approach in your scholastic pursuits, you are more than welcome to do so, and I would be happy to hear about it too.

If you have a burning desire to learn something new, a good way to keep the motivation aflame is simply to study less in the beginning. The thing with initial motivation is that it hasn’t transformed into passion yet. The signs I’ve collected from personal experience show that we just tend to madly fall in love with a fresh hobby or activity. Everything is so new that we are easily able to sustain motivation. There are so many things to explore in the beginning. But as we gain more knowledge and experience on the topic, we tend to lose much of the initial excitement. It’s natural. And it can’t be helped… But there is a way to convert the initial excitement into longer-lasting motivation.


When we are emotionally attached to an activity—say, skateboarding—we desire to do it all the time. We lose our sense of time because we’re so engaged in what we’re doing. We just don’t want to leave the precious skateboard alone. Skateboarding burns a lot of energy, so we also have to take occasional breaks to refuel. But what are we thinking about while nibbling at our sandwiches? Of course. Skateboarding. So if we want this emotion to last, what should we do? If indulgence causes exhaustion in the long run, we should see what the opposite action of doing less brings us.

Temptation.

We will be learning less in the beginning, but does it matter when we possess something far more valuable that we will definitely benefit from in the long run? Most of us aren’t going to morph into experts overnight anyway so why rush? Let temptation propel you to continue.

Patience.

We will learn through patience. Consistent learning in small doses lets the flame burn more fiercely. When we have something to look forward to, we are constantly feeding the fire. We are keeping ourselves on our toes. We don’t feel full, like our stomachs do after a generous Christmas feast. We should try to keep our stomachs half-full. And until we get the rhythm of learning a new skill, we should always leave plenty for tomorrow and not try to do as much as we can in one day. So rather than spending three hours building your Greek vocabulary, you should do 10 minutes.

Think of it as a flask of water in the Gobi. Sipping on it will keep you going. The difference, of course, being the fact that you’d die in the dunes if you didn’t have access to refills. In our case, however, we have a magic flask that’s equipped with auto-refills.