It’s the Final Countdown: Keeping Your Motivation up

Career Blog

Published: December 1, 2019 by Greta Snyder

Okay, so hopefully now that song is stuck in your head and helping lighten the mood as it is now about the time of year when the grind becomes real, and the motivation can be hard to find. No matter how you holiday, the illusion of a break and the potential oasis of day off are calling even though your list of things to do seems to get longer every day.

Be it dreamy visions of the most Instagram-worthy pumpkin pie ever at Friendsgiving, dreaded awkward dinners with in-laws, or toasty fireplaces and hot cocoa after hitting the slopes, nothing on the holiday season horizon can outweigh current looming deadlines. Not to mention adjusting to the exhaustion that hits when the sun disappears way before you can finally get some desperately needed escapism with a book or tv show (have you watched The Mandalorian btw) or sleep (yes this still exists). So, time to not just survive, but to thrive!

Let’s circle the wagons

We’re in this together, so let’s support each other. Connecting with your peers and reaching out to your instructors and other professionals is a great way to keep the motivation coming when you need it the most. Some ideas to get started:

  • Connect with peers in courses: re-visit course introductions to see if there is anyone you missed with shared interests and message them a “hey, just checking in to see how the semester is going for you,” join in on course Q&A boards, utilize online communication tools to build your mutual support system with peers you meet through group work to cheer each other on. Believe me they will be awesome resources going forward in school (hello e-Portfolio time; you’ll want a support team) and then moving forward in your career.
  • Reach out to instructors: no, not in panic mode unless an emergency arises, but students sometimes naturally feel intimidated and forget that instructors are here to support you and your learning in the program. So, take the time to connect and express if you’re struggling with an assignment, or a group member isn’t following through and letting the team down, or if you could use some recommendations or feedback on the work you’re doing. SJSU iSchool instructors are incredible professionals; don’t miss out on the chance to benefit from their brilliance, savvy balancing of multiple professional commitments, and ability to navigate collaborative projects.
  • Ask professionals: want to get an extra sprinkle of motivation-dust? Forget Tinkerbell or exceeding a healthy daily intake of sugar (I mean Rice Krispie treats, though) and engage with LIS professionals. They all were MLIS students at some point and can offer excellent advice and encouragement when you’re in a slump and feeling unsure why you’re working so hard. For example, I was about to give up all hope working on my e-Portfolio and reached out to an LIS professional friend for motivation. She shared with me that being able to articulate my skills was a worthwhile process that would help me throughout my career and to think of it more as a celebratory presentation of everything I’ve done and learned through my LIS experience. I literally finished two comps that day and am so glad I reached out to a lifeline. I felt like a millionaire realizing I how many valuable assets in my professional connections and mentors I’ve cultivated during the LIS program.

Fall in love with your work

Like any relationship, the ones you have with your work and schoolwork are complicated and take effort. So, focus on cultivating a positive relationship and a sense of pride about your work; let go of the frustration and embrace how amazing you are. Don’t just think about surviving the onslaught of endless work, but instead focus on developing strategies to thrive. This will make it easier for you as a student, but also help prepare you for your LIS career: in fact, commitment to life-long learning is the 8th principle of the American Library Association Code of Ethics

“Strive for excellence through continuous life-long learning, promotion of the LIS field and encouraging professional development.”

As an MLIS student and a professional researching career resources, put your real-world efforts into the context of fulfilling the missive of the ethics, values and principles of a practicing LIS professional. Take a moment to respect yourself for all the hard work and celebrate the process as this is just the beginning. To be a fully realized professional embrace development and plan to be always busy and never bored:  how exciting is that?

Final Thoughts

This upcoming week, I’ll follow up on my previous post on networking advice with some additional tips, but I’d love to hear any questions, advice or stories you might have about networking in person and online, and maybe even an unexpected networking opportunity over a holiday dinner or event. Also, if you need a life-line to stay motivated I’m here for you!

P.S. in case you feel like you’ve missed out on iSchool alerts for exciting iSchool independent studies or graduate student employment opportunities, please email me so I can share all the amazing options.

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