How do you stay motivated? | Coursera Community
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How do you stay motivated?

Userlevel 7
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Learning can be really challenging if the material you're learning is very difficult or you have a lot of other demands on your time. How do you push through those tough times to complete the course(s) you're working on? What keeps you motivated to continue when you feel like giving up?

For me it's a combination of 2 things.
  • Within Coursera we have study sessions and I find it so helpful to have that scheduled time with to sit down and get on with an hour of learning.
  • I like collecting things and earning tangible achievements so I keep reminding myself how it will feel to finally complete and earn my certificate.
What about you?

14 replies

Sometimes it’s challenging to remain motivated because so much happens in your life. We are also moody. There are some days I feel like doing nothing, might be tired or just in a non productive mood. I might look at this as a “day off” and trust I will be more motivated the next day. My motivation for the day will be to read and listen to music, e mail friends, have a laid back day, knowing that tomorrow will be different. The next day, knowing I just had a day off is always very motivating,
I often think of doing things as a necessity, not a luxury and that helps too.
Userlevel 7


 @Kalyan @Marcus @Lifecoach.phoenix  – Thought you might be interested in replying to this post!

Userlevel 6
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That is an interesting question.
I would like to answer it with an anecdote, some time i enrolled in a course here in Coursera of discrete mathematics made by the university of Pekin, it was exciting, curious and challenging at the same time, first by the language, it is in Chinese , which took me the delicacy of translating it into google translate and things did not turn out very well (especially the exams), i went to the forum and wrote for the first time in Chinese (using and pasting what the translator said), they are 13 weeks, i do alone only 4 weeks and in week 5 there were elements that should be written and so i went to associate with someone who was enrolled, there i met my first classmate of Chinese origin, a young man to admire, so much that won a national literature award; because i'm aware that his discipline is superior to mine in some ways, i chose to leave messages via Skype to help me solve problems in the exams in Chinese, and the truth, i only understood by translating, for me he was a motivation to follow in the course and i managed to advance until week 9, but there it became something a little more complex by the translation and i could not finish it, since it gave me a bit of pity to continue bothering my first classmate only in the open questions of the exams . Maybe at that moment, i would consider his support my motivation.
Another case, let's say antagonistic, was the inscription in Coursera of a course on investment portfolio, (I am a public accountant of profession), the first week was so technical that i had to solve equations (interest rate, future value, among others), that came so direct despite the fact that i know the subject, that din't give me enough attitude even to finish the first week, i din't felt motivated.
Based on these two peculiar lived cases, i can say as a personal opinion that the motivation is a transversal axis for the accomplishments, since it is directly proportional to the learning, the organization and the teamwork, so in my perspective to be motivated it's a question of knowing what you want to do, dedicating your attitude and time to the process, so you stay motivated either by being next to a classmate, finding your affinity in a certain area of ​​study, being predisposed or doing things with a great smile, because when you are motivated, you are happy.
Userlevel 6
Badge +5
I like to finish things I have started, so once I put my mind to doing a course, I can chip away at it. I like the short videos in most Coursera courses. This means I can watch a video or two even if I only have a short window of time. My notepad and pen stay ready beside the computer.

I also like to be able to check my progress. Because of this, I much prefer courses with free quizzes. I can’t afford a certificate in every course, and find it hard to stay motivated in those without free access to assessment items. How do I know if I have really learned anything without answering those questions? I might as well binge-watch television or documentaries. Class Central’s list of 1150+ Coursera Courses That Are Still Completely Free is an excellent resource.

Having said this, I have paid for certificates in several courses that I felt were particularly well made and worth the money, even though I do not expect them to benefit my career.

It might help to set aside several days to really concentrate on learning. Alternatively, mark off an hour or two every day (or most days) in the diary/calendar for courses. Guard those times fiercely and concentrate on your course. It’s a great feeling to look back and see how quickly you have progressed in a short time with this technique.

And don’t forget the value of rewards. Things like “I’ll ring a friend/go for a walk/play a game/read a book/any activity that gives me pleasure, when I finish this module” can be a useful way to keep at it for longer.
Userlevel 6
Badge +6
I like to finish things I have started, so once I put my mind to doing a course, I can chip away at it.
And don’t forget the value of rewards. Things like “I’ll ring a friend/go for a walk/play a game/read a book/any activity that gives me pleasure, when I finish this module” can be a useful way to keep at it for longer.

Yes, it is very true to finish the things you started. I have the privilege of having several certificates of courses very interesting, practical and according to my profession, however, because of the variety and quantity of high quality courses on the platform it is nice to experiment or look for something relatively new for you, in my case, the accounting sector i feel that it is at a good level of my skills, so i found that within the science of data and machine learning courses i'm doing very well and i feel that i am taking affinity what gives me a lot of motivation to follow and have achievements inside this field that inspire me to new ideas or projects.
Userlevel 4
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Thank you for flagging this interesting post, @Laura

To begin with, I think it is essential to clarify the reason to study, before I enroll in a course. Without this process, I would probably find difficulties to complete any course.

Still, things may not turn out as you expected as @Claire suggested. So, you will end up going through internal debates.

Since I began to study with MOOCs a year ago, I enrolled in 8 courses. Among them, I completed 5 courses, dropped 1, put on hold for 1 and am studying 1.

Frankly, I found the intermediate probability course I enrolled a bit difficult for me. My motivation was also falling, so I took a beginners’ class on the subject to improve my understanding. I learned a lot from the course and found it stimulating. After completing the beginners’ course, I asked myself whether I should try the intermediate course again. My answer to the question was no. The beginner’s class was all I needed for my purpose for now.

For the course on hold, it is challenging and my priority in life has also changed. Still, my motivation to complete the course is high. The course is very interesting, and the TA is also very helpful answering to my questions. So, my plan is to complete it, after I finish the course I am studying, which is essential for my career development.

So, I am afraid conclusion is rather boring: the key to stay motivated is to clarify your motivation before you enroll. Be flexible with your schedule, and the good news is that Coursera allows you to do that by changing time slots. Off course, a certificate from the world’s top institution is an additional motivation to complete the course.
Userlevel 2
Badge +1
Learning is valuable to me. That's what keeps me motivated. When I don't have time, I try to watch the lessons the following day.
Learning is a very rewarding exrerience. Through learning, I have seen the world, in a whole new way. It is fascinating to learn new things that change the way you think. Through the Psychology courses from Coursera, I learned to be a better listener, and to be more optimistic about my life. I can communicate better with other people. I can understand better the way they think and act, without being judgemental. I can see the world, in a more positive way. When I have many things to do, I don't give up. I return, as soon as I can.
When I take a course, it is like taking a gift from a dear friend. I will open it, to see what's inside. It is the same way, with the course. I will see what is inside.
There are people from all over the world, that share the same curiosity, the same passion for learning. We are so many people and each one of us is unique!
Learning with Coursera is a great learning experience for learners who appreciate the power of Science.
Userlevel 5
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Thank you for tagging me on this wonderful post @Laura

Below are my thoughts :

1: Visualize the outcome:
Before taking any course first, Consider why you’re taking courses, and write down those reasons. What is your ultimate goal? Getting promoted at work? Finding a better job altogether? Earning a degree? Making your family proud?
If you visualize what you hope to ultimately achieve by furthering your education, and if you keep this goal in sight, you’ll be more likely to stay motivated and focused. And even if you don’t write them down, simply acknowledging your goals can serve as a powerful motivator.

2: Next create a schedule that works for you meaning that:
This can help you avoid the out-of-sight, out-of-mind pitfall. Self-paced courses make it easy for you to study on your own terms – just be sure that you have a plan for completing your courses.
At Straighter Line, we need log in to their courses on a regular basis are much more likely to succeed, and every success will help you stay motivated and on-track to achieve your ultimate goals.

3: Aim for satisfactory work life balance:
If you let yourself become burned out or overwhelmed, you are more likely to lose sight of your goals and lose motivation. Luckily, everyone now has facility can now take advantage of affordable, self-paced courses help alleviate this challenge, but don’t forget to take a break periodically and focus on what’s important in your personal life.

So try to keep focused on your goals, and remember why you’ve decided to take the course in the first place – you’ve already taken the first important step by making that decision!

Userlevel 7
These are great responses!

@Giota, I love the analogy you shared: "When I take a course, it is like taking a gift from a dear friend. I will open it, to see what's inside. It is the same way, with the course. I will see what is inside."

@Kalyan and @Kohei, I really like your insights about the importance of clarifying your motivation for doing a course. I'd be more invested in sticking with my studies if I was able to remind myself why I was doing the course.

While I think there are some common motivations for human beings (rewards are always helpful, @Pat B, @Luis Gerardo Ayala B., and @Giota!) we are also a diverse species and so are motivated by different things due to our personalities, priorities, etc.
Userlevel 2
Badge +1
Thank you very much @Laura for tagging me also🙂

I agree with so many here and personally I now motivate myself by constantly thinking if some course I am active in, makes my life better and more fulfilling.

If not, and I get the same thoughts constantly, then I stop.

But having this mindset before enrolling in a new course, helps me choose from both my heart and also my mind.

For a long time I only focused on courses that would look good on my resume, that sounded good and would better my job opportunities.

Some time ago, I got really sick, could barely breathe and lay down and slept for several days, and I realised then, that I had to constantly focus on doing stuff that made me happy somehow.

Having a good resume doesn't make my life better, doing something I enjoy doing, does, so this motivates me🙂
Userlevel 2
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Wow! I have read a lot of interesting tips and I would like to add mine too.

After taking a course on "Learning how to Learn" in Coursera, my reading life has changed positively.
In the coures I learnt I can divide my learning time in chunks, as small as 25 minutes per session. I also learnt of the Time management tool pomodoro.

Also, what motivate me in my learning is joining groups of like minds and attending conferences related to what am learning.

I really appreciate the tips you all shared, I have really learnt alot moving forward. Thank you.
Userlevel 1
For me it's the combination of this two factors:

I have to support my parents and what I learn on Coursera is crucial to get the job I'm after (Web developer)

The second one is that I don't feel like I can fail to myself, I didn't study any computer science related career, I studied Gas Engineering. But I'm venezuelan. Due to the chaos there I was never able to work as a Gas Engineer (There was no job for those who where not with the goverment) and I had to do something different to work as a professional; then I decided to learn to code. I didn't want to end up cleaning or something for the rest of my life aftr having studied a 6 years career.

Coursera's courses in the field of web development have helped me to get hired as a web developer, I owe too much to this learning platform. (I'll be forever thankful)

I need to be always learning to catch up with those who studied a informatic career, if not, I won't b able to bring food to my home :)

This are the things that keep me motivated and be always learning here :)

(I apoligize for my basic english)

Userlevel 6
Badge +5
Congratulations on being hired as a web developer, @julio1985! It would be a career where you need to keep learning just to keep pace with new developments. All the best for the future!
Userlevel 1
Congratulations on being hired as a web developer, @julio1985! It would be a career where you need to keep learning just to keep pace with new developments. All the best for the future!
Thank you very much!, @Pat B

Kind regards,