Be Your Own Personal Cheerleader: How To Stay Motivated At Uni (And Afterwards!)

Sometimes our choice of careers may not sit well with those whose opinions we value most. Sometimes the problem is not how they feel about it, but how little they do to encourage us to keep at it. The worst, though, is when it starts to affect how we feel about it ourselves.

Here are three major deterrents and ways in which to combat them.


The parents

Ah, the top of the food chain! The holders of the cheque books and the decision-makers – until it comes to your future. At the end of the day, it’s you who should make the final choice about what it is you want to pursue, and nobody else. Our parents may not agree with whatever we end up studying, but it would be nice if they supported our ambition.

So what do we do when they either a) don’t agree with us, or b) have no problem, but don’t seem to bother motivating us either? This may hit home particularly hard for those of us who went into the creative arts, but the best place to start is to try and understand them.

Firstly, they may apprehensive just because they worry about you and your future. What if your degree will never assure economical stability? What if they let you go out into the world just to have you come back crushed and financially broke? It’s a parent’s responsibility to worry about you until their dying day, so you have to see it from their perspective.

Secondly, they might not fear the state of your wallet but simply don’t think your course is “worthy”, and that may just be due to a generational gap. Different times called for different ideas of what entailed a commendable degree. It’s important you come to terms with this.

Mae Ross suggests five simple rules for those combatting parents’ career ideas:

  • Let parents  have their own opinions
  • Stay true to your own
  • Be responsible
  • Work hard
  • Have fun

The main point is to prove to them that you don’t regret your choice. Even if you have to work three jobs, even if you doubt yourself at times, at the end of the day you wouldn’t change this degree for the world, and that is the best type of motivation you need!


The friends

Remember that time you finished writing a 200 page script and you ran over to your friend, waved it in their face and almost cried with joy at your creation, and then your friend just said, ‘cool’, and carried on? Yeah, us too.

Validation of any kind is a need for many. But whenever we find ourselves in a position where it clearly won’t come from others, we have to turn to ourselves. That’s all a fancy way of saying that the only person who’s opinion matters when it comes to our future is ourselves. If Thomas Edison had followed the suggestion of the British Parliament Committee, we would never have had lightbulbs; hell, if Jonas Hanway had let himself be guided by the ridicule others imposed on him, the umbrella would never have taken off!

We also have to realise that sometimes others don’t share our same passions, and therefore might not get excited or be encouraging of the things we do. This doesn’t mean they’re not happy for us. Sometimes others are insecure, or  even jealous.

If you rely on motivation from outside to keep you going, we can tell you now you won’t get very far. Your passion is a priority, and life is too short to wait for others to approve of it.



Here comes the great contender, the biggest threat, the one person we’ve been telling you to really listen to!

You are the only thing that can stand in the way of your dreams (*cue the world’s tiniest violin*). In all seriousness, you are the person who has made the choice to study the career path of your dreams. You and only you are the one who is going to pave your own way, regardless of what others say, especially when it comes to the creative industry.

So. How can you help yourself do this?

Forbes agrees that the way to succeed is to start with personal motivation.

  • Make a genuine commitment to personal excellence. If you want something done right, do it yourself. Always do your best and never get lazy, no matter the project (or the ineptitude of others around you!)
  • Remind yourself daily of your strong points. Can you imagine doing something else? No? Good. That means you are meant to do this, because you have what it takes, and this can never be truer than in the creativity sector. Don’t focus on what you can’t (yet) do, but focus on what you can, and, without verging on arrogance, remind yourself that this is why you do what you do. There is nobody who can do it like you.
  • See yourself as unstoppable. Don’t call yourself “unbeatable”, because life is not always kind and sometimes it will beat you. When it does, it will demotivate you. Instead, call yourself unstoppable. So you’ve run into a few problems, certain things didn’t work out… oh well. That’s not going to stop you from reaching your goals though. Why? Because you’re…

Fill in the gap!


Inspiring Interns is an internship and graduate jobs agency.