It’s getting close to the end of the semester. There are only a couple more weeks of classes, then finals, then we’re FREEEEE!

But we have to get through the most terrible time of the year before we can get to the most wonderful time of the year (heh heh). These last few weeks are littered with term papers, projects, tests, homework overloads, and…EXAMS.

This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. Where we sink or swim. If we stop now, all of the work we’ve done up to this point amounts to nil.

Staying motivated at a time like this is quite the challenge. When everything builds up and you’d just rather give up, here’s what you should think about…

What you really need

You don’t really need motivation to get to the end of the semester.

Yes, I meant to say that. I’ll say it again to prove it:

You don’t really need motivation to get to the end of the semester.

At least…not as much as you need inspiration.

Motivation simply gets you through—Inspiration sustains you. Motivation drives you (like a slave driver)—inspiration takes you willfully to your goals. Motivation is short term—inspiration lasts your entire life. And motivation is usually only newly obtained by introducing some extrinsic reward…but inspiration is your purpose and meaning.

Motivation doesn’t give you enough reason to do what you have to do. But inspiration…it turns what you haveto do into what you want to do. It gives you a reason to be happy where you are.

So what you need for the rest of the semester is inspiration. And trust me, it’s a thousand times stronger than motivation.

What is inspiration?

I’m sure that all of these general, fluffy statements aren’t enough to give you any real direction (but they are inspiring, so they are useful). So, here’s what I’m talking about…

It’s that dream you see in the future, it’s your life’s goal. It’s your purpose and meaning. It’s someone you love, something you live for.

Inspiration comes from any of those things; can be any of those things: goals, dreams, deeply-rooted desires. And for that reason, inspiration offers coherence. It unifies everything you’re doing into your end goal…nothing you’re doing seems pointless.

It’s what makes you truly have fun in everything you do.

Getting Inspired

Remember that feeling that you had when you first set foot on the college campus you’re now attending? You had dreams. You knew what you wanted to do with your life—or maybe you didn’t—but it was gonna be awesome, either way. You got to step out and be yourself, make a way for yourself, live on your own, and decide your own curfew. You saw where your life was gonna be once you graduated and became an engineer, a band director, a regional manager—whatever it may be. You couldn’t wait to start taking classes in your major, because you got to focus on what you wanted. And most of all, you couldn’t wait to get your own life started.

Somewhere along the way…that dream, of what you were gonna do and who you were gonna be—it got crushed. Maybe not all at once, but little by little, that terrible force called Reality chipped away at it. Maybe you saw how competitive your field is. Maybe you discovered that you’d have to start at the very bottom when you graduate. Maybe you saw that others were better than you at what you do.

At this point, you have a few choices…you can hang on to your dream as it is, ignoring reality; or you can forget your dream altogether. Or…you can mold it just a little bit to fit reality. Your field might be competitive, but you have a niche that you’ll find and fit into quite nicely. You might have to start out at the bottom…but all that means is that the journey to the top will only take a little bit longer. You’ll still get there. Others may be better than you at what you do, but you are no doubt better than them in something else.

Because the truth is, that thing I called “Reality” earlier…that isn’t really reality. That’s just discouragement. And the reality is, when we let that discouragement become our reality—when we don’t allow ourselves to have hopes and dreams, because we think they are impossible—we deprive ourselves of purpose and meaning.

You cannot inspire someone if you yourself are not inspired. You cannot do innovative, creative things to get to the top if you do not have goals. You cannot live a full life if you do not have purpose.

Inspiration brings artists back to painting every day. It’s what has led the greatest writers to write, the greatest musicians to play and compose. It’s led some of the smartest engineers to create what we use every day. It is what has led the greatest leaders of our world to personal success–and to helping others.

Let it lead you to greatness, too.

Get inspired. Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. And don’t let it go.

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