Bachelor’s Thesis: The art of constant self-motivation

All the exams have been completed and there’s just one final hurdle standing between me and graduation: my Bachelor’s thesis. This challenge requires a very special type of motivation. What comes next after graduating? Which sector suits me best? Which type of employer appeals to me? Should I stay at university and complete a postgraduate degree? Which city offers the best prospects?

A multitude of fascinating thoughts race through my head. But isn’t it these stray thoughts about the future that distract me from writing my thesis? There are so many opportunities and options for me after graduation that writing is no longer top of my agenda. But maybe I should look at it from a different perspective. I have to keep reminding myself that without a good thesis there won’t be any answers to the many questions. Reality can put a damper on even the most perfect of thoughts!

Ensuring continued motivation is a constant challenge, particularly at the beginning. I’ve just started my thesis and there’s still a lot of work to be done. Should I spilt the workload into chapters? That sounds like a good idea! I’ll try to set myself interim goals. That’ll obviously motivate me to write my paper. But is it enough? No, obviously not. Other types of motivation are required. Naturally, the traditional form of self-reward is always a good idea. “If I finish this section by 3 pm, I’ll treat myself to something nice!” or “If I complete this chapter today, I’ll go to the cinema later with some friends!” But should I still reward myself even if I don’t achieve the goals I’ve set? Of course! There’s no other way I’ll be able to cope with being tied to my desk for months on end. Should I give myself a break for a day? Three days wouldn’t jeopardise the project either! This is my plan of action for the first couple of months…

There is sufficient distraction between studying relevant literature and settling down to the serious work of writing the first pages. But then comes the moment that everybody dreads. There are only a few weeks left before the deadline for the thesis. How much do I still have to do? I’m only half way through it, and I still have to read loads of source material. Strangely enough, I have too many Internet sources. Suddenly there’s sufficient motivation to cope with the rigours of a thesis – it’s called pressure. I’m able to concentrate more than before, turn down invitations from friends, write really good sections, find excellent sources and graphics. I feel very proud of what I’ve achieved. This feeling lasts for a couple of days. And is usually followed by a short period of relaxation during which I often say to myself: “There you go, you’re actually pretty good. You’re on a roll. If you carry on like this, you’ll be finished in four days.” A fallacy. I undertake further literature research over the coming days, and actually start reading stuff that has nothing to do with my paper. It’s quite interesting how much I’ve discovered and learned about other things while compiling my thesis. These ups and downs between motivation, as a result of the intense time pressure, and “there are so many interesting YouTube videos” continue until the day when I reach the end of the last chapter and I turn my attention to my summary. I’m finally on the home straight, a great feeling and the best motivation I can imagine. I complete my thesis with a good feeling, I’m proud of my achievement. I skim through my paper, thinking about the moment when I hand it in and receive my grade. I look forward to the future. But a worrying thought suddenly flashes through my mind, ruining the moment of letting go and feeling relaxed: “There are only a few days left until the deadline and I still have to have my thesis proof read. Who’s going to do it? Why didn’t I think about this sooner? I also need to have it bound …!’’

And the story starts again just like a merry-go-round. Until – as throughout my course – everything has been completed successfully.

Author: Kay Schulte