You've just gotten home after a long day at work. Most everyone else in your situation gets to kick up their feet and relax - or at least gets to do work around the house, cook dinner, and make progress on the endless to-do list every adult has. You, however, must find the motivation to study! Unfortunately, this motivation can more often than not be fleeting. Like working out or eating healthier, great intentions are hard to turn into great actions.
The key to staying motivated is going to be different for different people. Different approaches need to be taken for various lifestyle preferences, personalities, and even locations. There is no one fix for everyone, but there are some ways of thinking and common practices that will help most folks.
The hardest thing about creating a habit is all the distractions and walls keeping us from developing the routine of action. When it comes to studying, the biggest downfall can come from saying "I'll do it after." After what? One t.v. show? A fifteen-minute nap (okay, maybe necessary)? After a run or doing something else to procrastinate? NO! Do it now. Study when you get home or even better yet wake up early and study for fifteen minutes to set the standard in your schedule. You are more likely to get studying done if you get it done right away because we all know that t.v. show can turn into a marathon and the excuses to put something off even a half hour can quickly turn into a day, putting you behind in your goal to pass the CPA Exam.
Hit and Keep Your Stride
The biggest reason we recommend studying early is so you can gain confidence and feel good about your study routine. The key word here is routine. People are more likely to continue doing something they feel right or accomplished about. Guilt is not a good feeling and watching Netflix after studying feels a lot better than before when you are putting something off. Hit your stride with studying and keep pace. View study breaks like a marathoner refueling. You are in a race of sorts to pass the CPA Exam and like and elite athlete you must not only start but continue doing what it takes to pass your goal. There will be the little voice in your head telling you to take a break, which is okay, but like the athlete make sure the breaks are meaningful and count towards your goal rather than detract from it.
Use Your Community as Motivation
We used Netflix the example because who doesn't want to catch up on "Narcos" or "Stranger Things" but an even stronger motivation is the people in your life. Quality time can be a huge motivation which serves as more than just a time to relax. Friends and loved ones also provide the extra motivation behind why you are studying so much. Your quality of life may feel like it's taking a hit for the time being but in the long run, passing the CPA Exam will create a better life for you and those around you. Allocate your time as a valuable resource, focus on the concept of compounding interest coming from your time-resource where the more you put in now will result in better returns later.
Okay, this one is simple but efficient and takes what you're planning to do and makes it into a reward you earn. When you are studying put money out in front of you on the table - money you're probably going to spend on dinner or activities already during the week - in any amount. You can add some extra in when you need extra incentive. As you are studying move the money from your "study stack" to your "spending stack" . . . or your pocket. The idea here is to allot a certain amount of money with a certain amount of time. Say one to five dollars for every 15 minutes to a half hour. If your goal is to study for 2 hours put eight bills out and "pay yourself" every fifteen minutes by moving the bill. Seeing this and rewarding yourself for studying is a great way to feel motivated. You are creating a short-term goal that is a reward that parallels the long term goal and reward. You'll see the bills moving from the study to fun piles and it puts in perspective the time you've put in, what you have left, and gives you something to look forward to. Best of all, when you're done studying you have a stack of bills to treat yourself with! Once you've accomplished your study goal you can immediately leave to grab dinner or see a movie with a friend. Yes, you are basically training yourself to feel good about studying, but creating these positive emotions related to studying will help solidify your routine. This concept could get pricey if the money you use is on top of what you already spend, so try to implement current fun money in your budget. If you have to throw some extra dough in to further incentivize your studying, we'd say it's a sound investment!