In this holiday edition of Student Diary, Helena Perray gives some tips on making this COVID-19 limited holiday season a fun and successful one. - Managing Editor / Tara Lonsdorf

As we students embark on the inevitable journey of deciding majors, searching for internships and daydreaming about careers, it can become a taxing process trying to stay motivated. It’s disheartening to feel unsuccessful after an interview, less qualified after a poor grade or overwhelmed by balancing student and social life.

As I’ve struggled to navigate through this process in my own life, I’ve come away with a few key pieces needed to complete the puzzle.

Allow Yourself to Daydream

In my experience, working life only becomes that much harder when we’re told to be realistic and forget our dreams. More often than not, what we desire most out of life isn’t something everyone has or can have easily — otherwise it wouldn’t be so sought after.

Dreams are the seemingly unattainable but entirely addictive motivation that keeps us driven and progress-oriented within the mundaneness of our day-to-day responsibilities. They make the fallen fragments of daily tasks fit together to form the full picture: your end goal. 

Keep Your Dream Job as Your End Goal, Not Your Starting Point

Being realistic does not mean forfeiting dreams, but simply knowing their place in the timeline of your professional and personal progress. Dreams are supposed to seem a bit far-fetched; they’re supposed to require work and dedication — a lot of it.

The very purpose of keeping your dreams alive is having an end goal; a position that doesn’t come to you, but that you chase after. One that isn’t handed off to just anyone, but rewarded to those who find lessons in their failures and practice diligence in their work, persistence in their aspirations and patience in their progress.

As cliché as it is, everyone has to start somewhere. Try to let where you want to end up be your motivation in life as you know it right now. 

Note Your Progress

You can’t always count on others to validate or congratulate the effort that you put into your school and work life; sometimes our small victories go unnoticed by others, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be your own cheerleader from time to time.

Make checklists, dream boards, journal entries — whatever allows you to visualize incremental goals that you’re working toward and acknowledge small steps of progress as you go. It can be easy to get swept away in the chaos of packed schedules or the defeat of negative self-talk, but remember that you are exactly where you need to be today to get one step closer to where you want to be tomorrow.

Celebrate how far you’ve come, and where you’re going. Acknowledging your capabilities and small victories is an overlooked but essential motivator in consistently working toward your end goals. 

Surround Yourself with Positive Influences

We’ve all heard the expression “you are who you surround yourself with.” If there’s one area of your life where this saying will rear its head, it’s in your personal realm of motivation.

The people that we surround ourselves with often influence our thought patterns, actions and decisions. It’s difficult to maintain the momentum and drive needed for success if the company you keep prioritizes the exact opposite.

In keeping yourself motivated, you should make an effort to surround yourself with others who share similar dreams, goals and work ethics. In doing so, you welcome a greater deal of positive self-talk, as well as new ideas and aspirations. The company you keep can either feed your dreams and passions, or starve your motivation to pursue them. 

As individuals, motivation comes in about a million different forms, but remains tied together by a few key ideas: your dreams are not unrealistic, they’re an end goal — the product of dedication, acknowledgement of progress and positive influence.

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