Kadir: Just do it!


Yousuf Kadir, Columnist

I’ve been really curious about what motivates people recently.

In asking my friends, they have the option of tackling the question whichever way they like, but most of them approached the question as, “Why do you try hard in school?” Many answered they want to see their parents happy or to prove someone wrong or to make campus a better place. However, given that many people interpret success only academically, I think students need to be motivated to succeed in areas beyond academics. Students should find exactly what motivates them in order to stay focused throughout college.

Motivation is the desire to do things. It’s the difference between working out to lose those last five pounds or lazing around your apartment all day accomplishing nothing. It is the crucial desire to set and attain goals that influences your own levels of motivation. Motivation helps you find your purpose. “Why are you on this Earth, and what do you want to do given your limited time here?” It’s only motivation that forces people to do great things that can truly change the world.

Given the current mental health issues pervading college campuses, it can sometimes be tough to find the motivation to do well academically and beyond. In addition, the quarter system can be very competitive, and especially certain concentrations such as economics, STEM and pre-med can create a lot of stress. Freshmen in particular can feel burnt out because college has given them more freedom than they had when they were in high school, and this freedom can lead to poor choices. Finding the right balance among social life, academic success and sleep is very difficult in college. The joke is that you can only pick two of the three.

But it is important to find out what makes you tick. Finding that inner desire to accomplish your dreams is surprisingly important. Research suggests that having a clear, specific goal is good motivation and often leads to success.

Author and Northwestern alumnus Dan Pink noted in his Ted Talk there are three intrinsic motivators: autonomy, mastery and purpose. “Autonomy, the urge to direct our own lives. Mastery, the desire to get better and better at something that matters. And purpose, the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves,” Pink said.

These three elements are intrinsic motivators that are the building blocks of what motivate people. I recommend looking closely at these three intrinsic motivators and how, if any, apply to your life.

For me, I’d like to say I’m pretty autonomous and self-motivated: an “imperfect-perfectionist” as I like to say. I want to see myself improve in every aspect of my life and have full control of my decisions physically, socially, mentally, academically, spiritually and more. I realize I am not perfect, but I always try to be a better version of myself. I often seek motivation through talking to family and friends, while also going to Shia LaBeouf’s famous YouTube motivational speech in desperate times of need.  

So, my best advice to you people out there looking for motivation to lose 10 more pounds, to get an A in organic chemistry or to make more meaningful friendships is to go figure out what you want and what motivates you to power through the pain period and start being the person you want to be. Follow Shia LaBeouf’s advice and “just do it!”

Yousuf Kadir is a Weinberg sophomore. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.