Self-Motivation Explained + 100 Ways To Motivate Yourself
To demonstrate this point, let’s consider two scenarios you’ve likely experienced:
- You have something you have to do . You’re not excited or passionate about it, but you know you need to get it done. This feeling of obligation motivates you to work hard to complete the task;
- You have something you get to do . You’re interested in your task—you might have even assigned this task for yourself rather than receiving it from someone else—and you are happy to put in the time and effort to complete it.
In which scenario are you more effective? In which scenario are you more efficient? And, in which scenario do you feel the most fulfilled?
I’m willing to bet that your answer to each of those questions is Scenario 2.
It likely won’t come as a surprise that doing something for its own sake and for your own purposes is likely to be more fulfilling, enjoyable, and successful than doing something to meet external standards or to please others.
The feeling described in Scenario 2 is that of being self-motivated . Read on to learn more about self-motivation and why it’s the most effective kind of motivation.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Goal Achievement Exercises for free . These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients create actionable goals and master techniques to create lasting behavior change.
This Article Contains:
- What Is the Meaning of Self-Motivation?
3 Examples of Self-Motivation
The psychology of self-motivation: how are self-efficacy and motivation related, the importance of self-motivation, is self-motivation a skill and can it be developed through training, how to foster self-motivation in the workplace, research on self-motivation.
- 17 Activities, Exercises, and Worksheets for Self-Motivation (PDF)
5 Meditations to Promote Self-Motivation
Self-motivation quizzes, questionnaires, and tests, apps for increasing self-motivation, popular podcasts on self-motivation, 22 quotes and messages to ignite self-motivation, 6 images to inspire self-motivation, 15 recommended movies to get yourself motivated, ted talks, speeches, and videos on self-motivation, 7 books on self-motivation, a take-home message, what is the meaning of self-motivation.
Above, we explored a basic example of self-motivation, but here’s a succinct definition of the concept:
“Self-motivation is, in its simplest form, the force that drives you to do things”
(Skills You Need, n.d.).
It’s the drive you have to work toward your goals, to put effort into self-development, and to achieve personal fulfillment.
It’s important to note here that self-motivation is generally driven by intrinsic motivation, a kind of motivation that comes from sincerely wanting to achieve and desiring the inherent rewards associated with it.
Self-motivation can also be driven by extrinsic motivation, the drive to achieve that comes from wanting the external rewards (like money, power, status, or recognition), although it’s clear that intrinsic motivation is usually a more effective and fulfilling drive.
Self-Motivation and Emotional Intelligence
According to emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman, self-motivation is a key component of emotional intelligence . Emotional intelligence is the measure of one’s ability to recognize and manage his or her own emotions and the emotions of other people.
Self-motivation’s relevance to emotional intelligence highlights its role within our ability to understand ourselves, relate to others, and succeed in reaching our goals .
Goleman states that there are four components of motivation:
- Achievement drive, or the personal drive to achieve, improve, and meet certain standards;
- Commitment to your own personal goals;
- Initiative, or the “readiness to act on opportunities”;
- Optimism, or the tendency to look ahead and persevere with the belief that you can reach your goals (Skills You Need, n.d.).
- A man who goes to work every only as a means to pay the bills, keep his family off his back, and please his boss is not self-motivated, while a man who needs no external forces to make the trek into work every day and finds fulfillment in what he does is self-motivated;
- The student who only completes her homework because her parents remind her or nag her, or because they ground her when she fails to complete it is not self-motivated, but the student who completes her homework with no prodding because she wants to learn and succeed in school is self-motivated;
- The woman who only goes to the gym when her friends drag her there or because her doctor is adamant that she needs to exercise to get healthy is not self-motivated, but the woman who likes the way exercise makes her feel and schedules time at the gym whether or not anyone encourages her is self-motivated.
As you can see, self-motivation is all about where your drive comes from; if your motivation comes from within and pushes you to achieve for your own personal reasons, it can be considered self-motivation.
If you are only motivated to achieve standards set by someone else and not for your own internal satisfaction, you are probably not self-motivated.
It’s possible to be self-motivated in some areas and not in others. For example, if the man from the first example is not internally motivated to go to work but is sure to make time for his marathon training, he is not self-motivated when it comes to work but might be self-motivated to run.
Psychologist Scott Geller is at the forefront of research on self-motivation, and he explains that there are three questions you can use to determine whether you (or someone in your life) is self-motivated:
- Can you do it?
- Will it work?
- Is it worth it?
If you answered “yes” to each question, you are likely self-motivated.
If you believe you can do it, you have self-efficacy . If you believe it will work, you have response efficacy—belief that the action you are taking will lead to the outcome you want. And if you believe it is worth it, you have weighed the cost against the consequences and decided the consequences outweigh the cost (Geller, 2016).
Speaking of consequences, Geller considers “consequences” to be one of four vital “C” words that underpin self-motivation:
- Consequences: To be self-motivated, you sincerely have to want the consequences associated with the actions you take rather than simply doing something to avoid negative consequences;
- Competence: If you answer all three of the questions above with a “yes,” you will feel competent in your ability to get things done;
- Choice: Having a sense of autonomy over your actions encourages self-motivation;
- Community: Having social support and connections with others is critical for feeling motivated and believing in yourself and your power to achieve (Geller, 2016).
Much of Geller’s work on self-motivation is grounded in the research of psychologist and self-efficacy researcher Albert Bandura . In 1981, Bandura set the stage for Geller’s current conceptualization of self-motivation with this description:
“Self-motivation . . . requires personal standards against which to evaluate ongoing performance. By making self-satisfaction conditional on a certain level of performance, individuals create self-inducements to persist in their efforts until their performances match internal standards. Both the anticipated satisfactions for matching attainments and the dissatisfactions with insufficient ones provide incentives for self-directed actions”
(Bandura & Schunk, 1981).
From this quote, you can see where Geller’s three questions come from. Believing that you can do it, that it will work, and that it is worth it will drive you to match the internal standards you set for yourself.
We explore this further in The Science of Self-Acceptance Masterclass© .
As you have likely already guessed, self-motivation is an important concept. While pleasing others and meeting external standards can certainly motivate us to get things done, such efforts aren’t exactly labors of love.
In other words, doing things because we feel we have to do them or to gain some external reward is enough in many cases, but it doesn’t invoke the passion needed to drive innovation and excellence.
It’s fine to use external sources to motivate you in some areas, but external motivation is less likely to leave you feeling personally fulfilled and finding deeper meaning in your life .
Not only do we generally do better work when we are self-motivated, but we are also better able to cope with stress and are simply happier when we are doing what we want to be doing.
Given the benefits of being self-motivation, your next question might be, Can I become more self-motivated?
The answer is a definite “yes.”
Self-motivation is driven by a set of skills that are within your control. Read on to learn how to use this to your advantage.
12 Tips and Skills to Motivate Yourself Today
- Setting high but realistic goals (e.g., SMART goals);
- Taking the right level of risk;
- Constantly seeking feedback to figure out how to improve;
- Being committed to personal and/or organizational goals and going the extra mile to achieve them;
- Actively seeking out opportunities and seizing them when they occur;
- Being able to deal with setbacks and continue to pursue your goals despite obstacles (i.e., resilience).
Further, there are six things you can do to maintain your self-motivation:
- Continue learning and acquiring knowledge (i.e., develop a love of learning);
- Spend time with motivated, enthusiastic, and supportive people;
- Cultivate a positive mindset and build your optimism and resilience;
- Identify your strengths and weaknesses, and work on them;
- Avoid procrastination and work on your time management skills;
- Get help when you need it, and be willing to help others succeed (Skills You Need, n.d.).
14 Strategies for Students to Increase Their Self-Motivation to Study
Students are particularly well-suited to reap the benefits of self-motivation, but it can be hard to be self-motivated in the current educational environment.
Luckily, there are some things you can do as teachers, parents, and adult mentors to help students become self-motivated. In addition, there are plenty of strategies that students can apply themselves.
Here are some ideas for how to encourage self-motivation in students:
- Provide students with as much autonomy and freedom of choice as possible (e.g., give students a choice in their seating arrangements or a range of options for their final project, and implement problem-based learning);
- Provide useful feedback, praise hard work, and deliver critical feedback using words like “and” and “what if” instead of “but” to encourage student competence;
- Cultivate a high-quality relationship with your students by taking a genuine interest in them, acting friendly, staying flexible, keeping your focus on the end goal of learning, and not giving up on them;
- Encourage your students to think about, write about, and discuss how what they are learning is relevant to their own lives (Ferlazzo, 2015).
And, here are some ways that students can bolster their own self-motivation:
- Attach meaning to your studies and take personal ownership over your knowledge and learning;
- Create a plan: Map out your semester, your month, your week, and even your day;
- Build a routine and apply time management skills to become more organized and productive;
- Identify several comfortable study environments (they should be quiet and have few distractions);
- Get enough sleep, eat nutritious food, and exercise regularly to stay healthy;
- Tame “time monsters” like the internet, video games, or unproductive time spent with friends;
- Avoid multitasking by choosing one subject or task to work on at a time and focusing all of your attention on it;
- Take planned—and well-earned—breaks to stay refreshed and motivated;
- Connect with a support system of friends and family who will encourage you to do your best;
- Talk positively to yourself (Buckle, 2013).
You may find it much easier to encourage self-motivation in the workplace than in school. After all, everyone in the workplace is there because they chose to be there, not because they’re required to be there by the law or by their parents. Employees might have vastly disparate reasons for being at work, but it’s unlikely they were compelled to work for their specific organization against their will.
As a manager, there are many ways to foster self-motivation in the workplace, including:
- Giving your employees one-on-one attention, feedback, and recognition;
- Ensure your employees have opportunities for meaningful advancement as well as training and education opportunities;
- Set the example in terms of tone, work ethic, and values . Be a role model for positivity, optimism, and hard work;
- Cultivate an uplifting and motivating culture that encourages employees to want to do their best;
- Foster socialization through teamwork and team-based activities, projects, and events;
- Stay as transparent as possible and open yourself up to questions, concerns, and ideas from your employees. Implement an open-door policy to ensure your employees feel heard (DeMers, 2015).
Writers Nick Nanton and J. W. Dicks at Fast Company offer some further strategies to ensure that both you and your employees stay motivated:
- Sell your mission statement to your team as you would to an investor. Ensure the people working to meet that mission understand it and buy into it;
- Foster a culture in which each employee has a specific job and a specific role with the organization, and give them room to grow and opportunities to implement ambitious new ideas;
- Focus on inspiring your staff instead of just motivating them. Inspired employees will inherently be motivated;
- Show your team recognition and appreciation for the hard work they do;
- Share your passion with your team and lead from the front by developing a positive mindset and displaying a positive attitude (2015).
Techniques to Motivate Yourself at Work
You can also take control of your own self-motivation at work. Some good techniques for becoming more self-motivated at work include:
- Finding work that interests you (This is a vital tip—it’s much easier to be self-motivated when you are passionate about what you do and fully engaged in it.);
- Request feedback from your boss or colleagues to learn about where you can improve and to enhance role clarity;
- Learn a new skill that is relevant to your role (or your desired role);
- Ask for a raise. Financial incentives are generally considered extrinsic motivation, but if you’re happy with your position, being paid what you think you are worth can be very self-motivating;
- Remind yourself of your “why,” the reason you do the work you do. When you are doing meaningful work, you are more likely to find fulfillment and stay self-motivated;
- Volunteer your services to others (This is especially helpful if you have trouble defining your “why.”);
- Take a vacation to allow yourself to rest, recharge, and come back refreshed and ready to work (Stahl, 2016).
The research on self-motivation clarifies its vital role in helping us achieve our goals. Check out the findings on two important and related topics below.
Self-Discipline and Self-Motivation
While self-discipline and self-motivation are two distinct concepts, self-discipline is vital to maintaining self-motivation. It’s not enough simply to be self-motivated—to achieve your goals, you need to couple self-motivation with self-discipline.
A study of online learners showed that even though they might all be considered self-motivated (since they are all taking a voluntary course with the goal of learning), those with self-discipline were the most likely to succeed.
Those who were highly self-disciplined displayed higher competence at the end of the course, fulfilled more external tasks, and were more effective in achieving their goals (Gorbunovs, Kapenieks, & Cakula, 2016).
Self-Motivation and Weight Loss
Very often, self-motivation is a key component of weight loss. Research on the connection between the two is quite clear.
In multiple studies, researchers found that participants who reported greater autonomy support and self-determined motivation were more effective in losing weight, more likely to keep the weight off for longer periods of time, and more positive about their weight loss journey (Teixeira, Silva, Mata, Palmeira, & Markland, 2012).
When we have our own closely held reasons for wanting to lose weight—and these reasons are based on personal fulfillment rather than meeting external standards—we are much more likely to find success.
16 Activities, Exercises, and Worksheets for Self-Motivation (PDFs)
Check out the activities, exercises, and worksheets below to find ways to enhance your self-motivation. Or, share these resources with your clients to help them get self-motivated.
Quick and Easy Motivation Techniques
Some techniques and exercises are more difficult than others. If you’re looking for a quick and easy exercise or activity to boost your self-motivation, try these:
- Listen to motivational music, like: a. Bill Conti’s Gonna Fly Now ; b. Paul Engemann’s Push it to the Limit ; c. Queen’s We Will Rock You ; d. Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone ; e. ACDC’s Thunderstruck .
- Watch a motivational movie, like: a. Forrest Gump ; b. The Pursuit of Happyness ; c. Life is Beautiful ; d. Rain Man ; e . The Family Man .
- Read books that boost motivation from authors like: a. Napoleon Hill; b. Brian Tracy; c. Tony Robbins; d. Jim Rohn (Mueller, 2012).
Stronger Motivational Techniques
If you need techniques with a bit more power, you can try these:
- Set wisely chosen and deeply personal goals that you are excited about working toward;
- Schedule rewards for yourself when you accomplish your goals (or when you make steps toward your goals, for the larger ones);
- Visualize yourself achieving and fulfilling these goals;
- Create a vision board with your goals, aims, and dreams in mind, and post it somewhere you will see it often;
- Pay attention to your “hierarchy of needs” (à la Abraham Maslow) and ensure you are meeting your lower-level needs (including physiological needs like food and sleep, safety needs, social needs, and esteem needs);
- Consider using Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), the study linking neurology, language, and programming to understand human experience and motivation;
- Envision what could happen when you reach your goals, as well as what could happen when you fail to reach your goals;
- Incorporate things you are interested in and engage your curiosity when setting and working toward your goals;
- Make a commitment to someone or something to ensure your future self will find it difficult to change plans or put things off (Mueller, 2012).
Self-Motivation Workbook (PDF)
This workbook is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to develop self-motivation.
It contains 23 pages of self-motivation information, activities, and exercises to help you find the drive within yourself that’s needed to achieve your goals.
You’ll find sections like:
- What Makes People Self-Motivated?;
- Lack of Energy or Self-Motivation?;
- Making Decisions;
- Don’t Make Excuses;
- Be Clear About Your Decisions;
- The Three Decisions That Will Shape Your Life;
- The NAC Concept of Pain and Pleasure;
- Transforming Yourself.
Please note that you will need to register with www.plr.me to download this workbook. You can find more free motivation tools and worksheets here .
Exercise: Build Self-Efficacy
Building self-efficacy is one of the best ways to develop your self-motivation. It might sound difficult or complex, but there are three simple activities you can do that help get you there:
- Ensure early success by choosing activities or steps that you know you can do;
- Watch others succeed in the activity you want to try—this is particularly effective if the person you are observing is similar to you and/or close to you;
- Find a supportive voice, like a coach, counselor, friendly manager, or mentor to encourage you and give you feedback (Mantell, 2012).
Set SMART Goals
As noted earlier, setting SMART goals is a great way to enhance your self-motivation.
When you set these goals, make sure they are:
Creating goals for yourself is one of the best things you can do to build a foundation for self-motivation. And if your goals are SMART, you are much more likely to find it easy to motivate yourself.
Getting Motivated to Change
This PDF from Texas Christian University’s Institute of Behavior Research offers many useful handouts and worksheets on motivation, along with some instructions for how to use them and suggestions for implementing change-focused counseling and coaching (Bartholomew, Dansereau, & Simpson, 2006).
It breaks things down into four parts:
- Motivation 101;
- The Art of Self-Motivation;
- Staying Motivated;
- Making It Second Nature.
All four parts contain great resources, but the Art of Self-Motivation section includes some really useful handouts and worksheets, including:
- Motivation and Change handout (page 28);
- Taking a Hard Look – Pros and Cons (page 29);
- Target Log (page 30).
Some of the resources in this PDF are targeted to people who are recovering from addiction, but it’s easy enough to alter and adapt them for more general use.
Click here to access this 63-page resource.
Meditation can be a great way to help maintain your self-motivation.
Try these meditations to help you stay self-motivated:
- Mountain Refuge’s Meditation for Self-Motivation ( 20-minute guided meditation from Meditainment);
- Meditation to Help Stop Procrastination (guided meditation from Jason Stephenson that’s about one half-hour);
- Guided Meditation—Motivation (11-minute guided meditation from Minds with Integrity);
- 10 Minute Meditation for Motivation and Building a Positive Mindset (10-minute guided meditation from The Mindful Movement);
- Guided Meditation—Increase Motivation and Confidence (nine-minute guided meditation from Michael Mackenzie at Project Meditation).
There are several fun quizzes and questionnaires you can use to explore your level of self-motivation. They aren’t all rigorous and validated instruments, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be helpful.
Self-Motivation Quiz From Richard Step
You can find this quick five-minute quiz from Richard Step at this link . It includes 45 questions rated on a three-point scale (with Rarely, Maybe, and A Lot as the three options).
You can take it with a focus on your life in general, or you can narrow your focus to one of several areas, including:
- Academics and schoolwork;
- Business ownership;
- Career growth and change;
- Entrepreneurship and self-employment;
- Faith and spirituality;
- Family life;
- Fitness and health;
- Future vision;
- Goal setting and completion;
- Helping other people;
- Hobbies and casual interests;
- “I was asked to take the test”;
- Just for fun or curiosity;
- Leadership and management;
- Life purpose and passions;
- Marriage and relationships
- Money and wealth;
- Psychological research;
- Retirement and legacy living
- Self-discovery and development;
- Shopping and spending;
- Teaching and training others;
- Teamwork and team-building;
- Trauma recovery.
Your results from this quiz will help you determine what makes you tick and what your main motivators are.
Motivation Style Quiz
If you want to learn what type of incentives you are most responsive to, this quiz from Martha Beck at Oprah.com can help. It includes only 10 questions with five response options each, so it’s a quick and easy way to discover your motivation style.
Your results will be presented via a score on the five different motivator types:
Scores can range from 1 to 10, with higher scores indicating that something is a greater motivator for you. Anything with a score of 6 or higher can be considered one of your major motivators, while anything below 3 is only minimally important. Your main motivational style is the component with the highest score.
Along with your scores, you will see descriptions of each motivation style to get an idea of what your “type” is like.
The Self-Motivation Inventory
For a slightly more research-backed scale of self-motivation, you might want to consider the Self-Motivation Inventory. This inventory will help you determine your level of self-motivation and whether you’re driven more by internal or external motivators.
It includes 30 items rated on a scale from 1 (less true) to 5 (more true), dependent on how well you feel each item describes you.
A few sample items include:
- I frequently think about how good I will feel when I accomplish what I have set out to do;
- If asked about what motivates me to succeed, I would say that the number one factor is a sense of personal fulfillment, that I gave my all and did my best;
- When I think about the reward for doing something, the first thing I think about is the sense of accomplishment or achievement;
- On several occasions, I have given myself a consequence for making a poor or less optimal decision. For instance, if I chose to eat an extra helping of dessert, I tell myself to work out an extra 10 minutes at the gym;
- Even if something makes me feel slightly nervous or uncomfortable, I typically do not have much trouble getting myself to do it.
When you have answered all 30 questions, total your responses for your overall score. Your score will place you within one of the following categories:
- Total Score 113-150: highly self-motivated;
- Total Score 75-112: somewhat self-motivated;
- Total Score 38-74: slightly self-motivated (perhaps in one or two areas, but not overall);
- Total Score 0-37: not at all self-motivated (more externally motivated).
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If you’ve committed to becoming more self-motivated and working toward your goals, these seven smartphone apps can help you get started and maintain your drive:
- DayOneApp : This journaling app allows you to add pictures, local weather data, and geo-location to each journal entry (iOS and Android);
- MyFitnessPal : This food- and exercise-focused app helps determine the calories and overall nutrition of the food you eat and records your exercise activity (iOS and Android);
- BrightNest : This self-improvement app is intended to help you “shape up your home and simplify your life” with guidelines and tips on things like organization, cleaning, and do-it-yourself projects that will remove the clutter from your (mental and physical) space (iOS and Android);
- Headout : This app shares exciting, last-minute deals on fun experiences, including nearby activities, events, and tours. Make sure you make time to rest and relax in addition to all the work (iOS and Android);
- Coach.me : This app acts as a sort of digital coach by posing powerful questions that will help you narrow down your desires, set goals, and stay open-minded and on track (iOS and Android) (Boss, 2016).
If you’re a fan of podcasts, you might be happy to know that there are plenty of motivation-related podcasts available.
Here’s just a sample of the podcasts out there focused on this topic:
- The Daily Boost: Best Daily Motivation ( website );
- The Accidental Creative ( website );
- Inspire Nation—Daily Inspiration, Motivation, Meditation ( website );
- The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes ( website );
- Cortex ( website );
- The Tony Robbins Podcast ( website );
- Happier with Gretchen Rubin ( website );
- Beyond the To Do List—Personal Productivity Perspectives ( website );
- The Charlene Show ( website );
- The Ziglar Show—Inspiring Your True Performance ( website );
- Courageous Self-Confidence ( website ).
Check out other great podcasts that are focused on improving your motivation at https://player.fm/ .
Sometimes you just need a quick boost to get self-motivated, and quotes are a great way to get the spike in motivation that you need. Among this list are 17 quotes collected by Lydia Sweatt (2016). Give these quotes and messages a read next time you’re lacking in motivation.
“The only time you fail is when you fall down and stay down.”
“Most people can motivate themselves to do things simply by knowing that those things need to be done. But not me. For me, motivation is this horrible, scary game where I try to make myself do something while I actively avoid doing it. If I win, I have to do something I don’t want to do. And if I lose, I’m one step closer to ruining my entire life. And I never know whether I’m going to win or lose until the last second.”
“Always choose the future over the past. What do we do now?”
“You are your master. Only you have the master keys to open the inner locks.”
“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”
Norman Vincent Peale
“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
“Where there is a will, there is a way. If there is a chance in a million that you can do something, anything to keep what you want from ending, do it. Pry the door open or, if need be, wedge your foot in that door and keep it open.”
“Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.”
“Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark set before you.”
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
“Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.”
W. Clement Stone
“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.”
“There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, there are no limits.”
“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.”
“We aim above the mark to hit the mark.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.”
“Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.”
Simone de Beauvoir
“You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
“Why should you continue going after your dreams? Because seeing the look on the faces of the people who said you couldn’t . . . will be priceless.”
“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
Harriet Beecher Stow
Similarly, sometimes a motivational poster, meme, or image can work wonders for your self-motivation. Below are six of my favorite motivation-related images.
The Classic Road Sign
I don’t know about you, but there’s something that calls to me in this image: the blue sky and clouds, the angle encouraging us to look up, and “Motivation” in big letters. For some reason, it just works!
Looking at this image makes me think about life as a journey and motivation as an important piece of that journey. If we want to reach our next destination, we need to put forth some effort to make it happen. And when we do, seeing that big road sign welcoming us can often be reward enough.
The Yes I Can image also points out that the best motivation is self-motivation; as we’ve learned in this piece, that is truly the case. When we are motivated for our own internal reasons and committed to reach our goals for personal fulfillment rather than meeting the standards of others, we are more likely to succeed.
Sometimes, all we need is a quick reminder that “Yes I can!” Keep this image handy, especially when you’re working towards a particularly challenging goal, and it might give you the boost of motivation you need to stay on track.
I Cannot Change Yesterday, But I Can Change Today
The message of this image is such an important point to remember, especially for those of us who struggle with leaving the past where it belongs: in the past.
It can be all too easy to dwell on past experiences, mistakes you’ve made, and roads that you should have taken. However, that does nothing to improve your current state. It’s good to reflect on what has brought you to where you are today, but letting worry, shame, embarrassment, and self-doubt based on your past creep into your present is a sure recipe for failure.
Remember that yesterday is done and gone—you can’t change it, so there’s no point dwelling on it. Take your lessons learned and apply them to something you can change: today.
What Matters Most Is How You See Yourself
This is another classic image in self-motivation and self-esteem, probably because it has a kitten in it. Kittens make for popular images.
Besides being cute, it also gets an important point across: The most important thing is the view you have of yourself. What other people think simply doesn’t matter most of the time. It’s what you think and feel about yourself that drives your behavior.
If you want to stay motivated and achieve your long-term goals, make sure to work on your sense of self-esteem and self-efficacy. See the best in yourself when you look in the mirror, and you’ll ensure that the best in yourself is what you manifest through your actions.
This exhilarating (and potentially anxiety-inducing) image reminds us that what seems impossible is sometimes very possible. Of course, some things are truly impossible, based on things like gravity and the laws of nature, but this image isn’t about those things. It’s about things that seem impossible until you actually try them.
Challenge yourself to try something that seems impossible, giving it at least one solid attempt. You may be surprised at the outcome.
Don’t Worry, You Got This
This meme is both adorable and motivational. Featuring a tiny hedgehog in a victorious pose, this is a great image to go to when you’re in need of self-motivation combined with light-heartedness and humor. It can sometimes give a boost that simply can’t be found in more solemn inspirational quotes.
Looking at the cute little hedgehog and telling yourself, “ You got this! ” might be enough to get yourself in the frame of mind to take on a new challenge with enthusiasm and a smile.
If you’re a cinephile, you might find movies a good source of motivation.
If so, this list of 15 motivational movies (along with the movies listed above) might be enough to give you a boost:
- To Kill a Mockingbird (1962);
- The Shawshank Redemption (1994);
- Queen of Katwe (2016);
- Apollo 13 (1995);
- The Queen (2006);
- Lion (2016);
- Southpaw (2015);
- The African Queen (1951);
- Dangal (2016);
- Field of Dreams (1989);
- My Life as a Zucchini (2016);
- The Finest Hours (2016);
- Begin Again (2013);
- Sing Street (2016).
To see descriptions of the motivational power of these movies, read Samuel R. Murrian’s (2017) article here .
Don’t have time for a full-length feature film? That’s okay! There are also tons of great TED Talks and YouTube videos on self-motivation. Check out any of the videos listed below to learn more about self-motivation:
The Psychology of Self-Motivation – Scott Geller
Psychology Professor Scott Gellar (mentioned earlier in this article) explains how to become more self-motivated in this inspiring TEDx Talk.
How Can We Become More Self-Motivated – Kyra G.
Thirteen-year-old Kyra shares in this TEDxYOUTH talk how to be motivated by setting goals and looking up to positive role models.
Self Motivation – Brendan Clark
Another young TEDxYOUTH speaker, Brendan Clark shares his own philosophies on motivation and success in this video.
Of course, there’s always the old-fashioned option to learn more about self-motivation: reading.
Check out these excellent books on self-motivation if you want an in-depth look at the topic:
- Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation by Edward L. Deci and Richard Flaste ( Amazon );
- The Self-Motivation Handbook by Jim Cathcart ( Amazon );
- Self-Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development by Carol Dweck ( Amazon );
- The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard ( Amazon );
- The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win by Jeff Haden ( Amazon );
- No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy ( Amazon );
- The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives by William Stixrud and Ned Johnson ( Amazon ).
In this piece, we covered what self-motivation is, how it fits into similar concepts in psychology, how you can boost it in yourself, and how you can encourage it in others.
It’s possible to increase self-motivation, and in turn, to increase your productivity and success. Hopefully, this article gave you some techniques and tools for achieving this.
What’s your take on self-motivation? What works best for you? Do you find yourself motivated more by external rewards or by internal drives? Did you find that your motivation differs in different areas of life? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Goal Achievement Exercises for free .
- Bandura, A., & Schunk, D. H. (1981). Cultivating competence, self-efficacy, and intrinsic interest through proximal self-motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41 , 586-598.
- Bartholomew, N. G., Dansereau, D. F., & Simpson, D. D. (2006). Getting motivated to change. TCU Institute of Behavioral Research. Retrieved from http://ibr.tcu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/TMA06Sept-mot.pdf
- Boss, J. (2016). 7 apps to help integrate tech with self-improvement goals. Entrepreneur. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/254636
- Buckle, K. (2013). 10 tips for self-motivation for students. Gratia Plena. Retrieved from https://gratiaplenacounseling.org/10-tips-for-self-motivation-for-students/
- DeMers, J. (2015). 6 motivation secrets to inspire your employees. Inc. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/jayson-demers/6-motivation-secrets-to-inspire-your-employees.html
- Ferlazzo, L. (2015). Strategies for helping students motivate themselves. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/strategies-helping-students-motivate-themselves-larry-ferlazzo
- Geller, E. S. (2016). The psychology of self-motivation. In E. S. Geller (Ed.) Applied Psychology (pp. 83-118). New York, NY, US: Cambridge University Press.
- Gorbunovs, A., Kapenieks, A., & Cakula, S. (2016). Self-discipline as a key indicator to improve learning outcomes in e-learning environment. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 231 , 245-262. Mantell, M. (2012). Four strategies that build lasting motivation (and how to use them to achieve your goals). LifeHacker. Retrieved from https://lifehacker.com/5958782/four-strategies-that-build-lasting-motivation-and-how-to-use-them-to-achieve-your-goals
- Mueller, S. (2012). Self-motivation techniques: Proven motivation tactics to boost your motivation. Planet of Success. Retrieved from http://www.planetofsuccess.com/motivationtechniques/
- Murrian, S. R. (2017). 15 inspiring, uplifting movies you can watch right now on Netflix for a hopeful new year. Parade. Retrieved from https://parade.com/632586/samuelmurrian/15-inspiring-uplifting-movies-you-can-watch-right-now-on-netflix-for-a-hopeful-new-year/
- Nanton, N., & Dicks, J. W. (2015). 5 steps to keeping your employees—and yourself—motivated daily. Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3041620/5-steps-to-keeping-your-employees-and-yourself-motivated-daily
- Skills You Need. (n.d.). Self-motivation. Skills You Need: Personal Skills. Retrieved from https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/self-motivation.html
- Stahl, A. (2016). Seven ways to get motivated at work. Forbes: Leadership. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2016/11/22/seven-ways-to-get-motivated-at-work/#414d52633cd5
- Sweatt, L. (2016). 17 motivational quotes to help you achieve your dreams. Success. Retrieved from https://www.success.com/article/17-motivational-quotes-to-help-you-achieve-your-dreams
- Texeira, P. J., Silva, M. N., Mata, J., Palmeira, A. L., & Markland, D. (2012). International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9, 22.
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This article very helpful for me. For me, intrinsic motivation work for me. Thank you so much to the writer.
Wow.. wonderful article. Covered all corners .. its so inspirational and insightful.
thanks alot of information
Excellent resource and information for all areas of life. I look forward to reading some of the books your listed.
SIMPLY PHENOMENAL ARTICLE.
Thank you so much for this wonderful post. Really great
This is the one of best example “A man who goes to work every only as a means to pay the bills, keep his family off his back, and please his boss is not self-motivated, while a man who needs no external forces to make the trek into work every day and finds fulfillment in what he does is self-motivated;” Thanks for sharing this helpful post in fast-changing life!
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Home » Creative Personal Motivation Statement Examples: 5+ Sample
Creative Personal Motivation Statement Examples: 5+ Sample
A personal motivation statement is a powerful tool that can help you achieve your dreams and goals. It is a declaration of what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it, and how you plan to achieve it. By writing down your goals and motivations, you will have a clear roadmap to follow as you pursue your dreams. Additionally, sharing your motivation statement with others can help keep you accountable and on track.
Table of Contents
How To Write a Personal Motivation Statement Examples?
A personal motivation statement is a powerful tool that can help you overcome challenges and achieve your goals. There are no wrong or right answers when it comes to creating a personal motivation statement. Everyone has different motivations, and your personal motivation statement should be unique to you. However, there are a few elements that all successful motivation statements share.
First, your motivation statement should be clear and concise. It should state your specific goal, and it should explain why you want to achieve that goal. Second, your motivation statement should be realistic. It’s important to set achievable goals, so that you can stay motivated and continue working towards them.
Finally, your motivation statement should be inspiring. Remember that your motivation comes from within, so it’s important to choose a goal that feels meaningful to you. By keeping these elements in mind, you can write a personal motivation statement that will help you stay on track and achieve your goals.
Related: How To Write a Cover Letter (And Get Hired in 2022!)
Personal Motivation Statement Examples
Dear Scholarship Committee,
First and foremost, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude for considering me for this scholarship opportunity.
As you may know. I am currently a senior at XYZ High School and am on track to graduate with honors later this year. After much thought and deliberation, I have decided that I would like to pursue a degree in XYZ at ABC University.
I have always been interested in XYZ and firmly believe that pursuing a degree in this field will allow me to grow as both a student and a person. In addition. I am confident that the skills and knowledge I acquire during my studies will benefit me greatly in my future career.
While I am well aware that the road to obtaining a college degree can be long and challenging, I am more than up for the task. I am a hard worker who is not afraid of obstacles and always puts forth my best effort. I am also very dedicated to my studies and firmly believe that education is the key to success.
Lastly. I would like to assure you that if awarded this scholarship, I will use it to its full potential and work diligently to achieve my academic goals. I am truly grateful for your consideration and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Sincerely, Your name
Related: Motivation Letter for Study Abroad: 5 Samples
Personal Motivation Statement Sample
Dear Sir or Madam,
Therefore, I am writing to apply for the position of xxxxxx. I am a motivated individual with a strong desire to succeed.
So, I have been in my current role for xxx years and have gained valuable experience and knowledge that I can use in a new role. Also, I am looking for an opportunity to progress my career and believe that this role is the perfect next step.
Also, I am confident that I have the skills and abilities to excel in this role and would be a valuable asset to your team. So, I am eager to utilise my skills and knowledge in a new role and contribute to the success of your organisation.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Related: Unique Motivation Letter for Internship: 5+ Samples
Personal Motivation Statement Template
Therefore, I am writing to apply for the position of (name of position) at (name of company). I am a highly motivated and hard-working individual who is looking for an opportunity to use my skills and abilities in a challenging and rewarding environment.
So, I have (number) years of experience in (field/industry). And I am confident that I can be a valuable asset to your team. I am eager to learn new things and take on new challenges. And I am committed to doing whatever it takes to get the job done right.
I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss my qualifications with you in person. And I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Sincerely, (Your name)
Related: Best Motivational Letter For Graduate Program:7 Sample
5 Things To Include In a Personal Motivation Statement Examples
A personal motivation statement is a powerful tool that can help you achieve your goals. By setting out your reasons for pursuing a certain goal, and articulating the steps you plan to take to achieve it, you can clarity and focus your efforts. Here are five things to include in a personal motivation statement examples:
- Your goal: What are you trying to achieve? Be specific and realistic in your targets.
- Why this goal is important to you: What are the personal rewards that you hope to gain from achieving this goal? When writing down your motivation, it can be helpful to think about how achieving your goal will improve your life.
- The steps you will take to achieve your goal: What actions do you need to take in order to move closer towards your goal? Planning out the concrete steps you need to take can help to make your goal feel more achievable.
- The obstacles you anticipate: What challenges do you expect to face as you work towards your goal? It can be helpful to identify potential obstacles in advance so that you can develop strategies for overcoming them.
- Your timeline: When do you hope to achieve your goal? Establishing a timeline for yourself can help to keep you on track and ensure that you are making progress.
By including these five elements in your personal motivation statement, you can set yourself up for success as you work towards achieving your goals.
Related: What is Cover Letter? Complete Guide To Get any Job.
I hope you found this blog helpful. This is just one example of how you can use a personal motivation statement to increase your productivity and achieve your goals. Remember, the most important part is finding what works for you and sticking with it. What strategies do you currently use to stay motivated? Let us know in the comments below!
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A guide to writing the best personal statement for your college application (with template and examples!)
Why is boasting about a best friend SO much easier than writing about yourself? Unfortunately, writing about yourself is exactly what a personal statement essay requires you to do–whether it’s for your college admissions application, or for a scholarship application to pay for college . Here’s our guide, to ensure you’re well-equipped to write a killer personal statement!
First off, what’s the purpose of a personal statement?
What topics can i write about, how do i decide what to focus on, in my college essay, okay, i’ve got my personal statement topic. but now i have to actually write it. 😱what do i do .
- Do you have personal statement examples?
Now it’s your turn.
Your personal statement should share something about who you are, something that can’t be found in your resume or transcript.
- It should paint a picture for colleges to understand who we are and what we bring to the table. This is why it’s often better to tell a story, or give examples, rather than just list accomplishments.
- It should complement the other parts of your application. Consider your college application as a whole. Your personal statement, application short answers, and supporting documentation should together tell a story about who you are. This also means not being super repetitive with your personal statement and your short essays. (For instance, if you have to answer 3 questions AND submit a personal statement, maybe they shouldn’t ALL focus on music.)
For scholarship applications:
- It should indicate why you’re deserving of the scholarship. This often means making sure your essay relates to the scholarship provider’s goals. (Get more help on writing a killer scholarship essay here , and then make sure you’re applying as efficiently as possible. )
- It should showcase your strengths. This doesn’t mean it can’t acknowledge any weaknesses, but it surely shouldn’t only focus on negative aspects!
It can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. First, figure out what your choices are. Some colleges may have very specific college essay prompts. That said, many students apply using the Common App, which this year offers these 7 topics to choose from :
- Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
- The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? ( Psst – If you choose this topic, you can sign up for Going Merry and apply for a scholarship bundle : one essay, multiple scholarships! )
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
- Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
- Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
- Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
You’ll notice that #7 is a catch-all that allows you to submit any personal statement about anything at all .
So maybe that doesn’t help you narrow it down.
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Here’s a 3-step solution:
STEP 1. Brainstorm about your life
Dedicate 5-10 minutes each to brainstorming about these 4 sets of questions.
You can do this by yourself (writing down your thoughts), or do this exercise out loud with a friend or family member, and then jot down notes as you’re talking. If you “think out loud” better than you do on paper, brainstorming with someone else may be the way to go!
(A) What were defining moments in your life?
How did these moments in your life changed you, what did you learn from it, and how has it shaped your future plans? Some topics might include:
- An accident or injury
- A best friend you made (or lost)
- A defining talk with a peer
- Something new you tried for the first time
- Revealing a sexual or gender identity, to friends or family
- Discovering something about your family ( e.g., see Jesus’s story )
- Moving to a new city
- Traveling somewhere, or learning about a new culture ( e.g., see Gabby’s story )
- Your first pet (new responsibilities as a fur mom or dad)
(B) What have you chosen to spend time on?
Remember to focus not just on the what , but also the why – What were your motivations? How did you feel? What have you learned? Some topics on this might include:
- The moment you joined band, color guard, or the soccer team.
- A time you struggled with that activity – e.g., Maybe you got passed over for captain of the soccer? Or maybe you got an injury and had to sit out on the sidelines?
- Maybe a moment you really fell in love with that activity – e.g. Maybe the first time you investigated a story for the school newspaper and realized journalism was your calling?
(C) Whom or what are you inspired by?
How did you find out about this person or thing? Why are you inspired? In what ways are you inspired? Is there anything that inspiration has made you do (e.g. join a club, do an activity or internship on the topic)? Some topics on this might include:
- Technology – Maybe a specific App made you inspired to learn to code?
- Person in your life – Maybe meeting someone (or knowing someone in your family) has affected you?
- A show, movie, book, or podcast that inspired you to look at life differently
- A dance or song that has made you interested in performing arts
(D) What are you proud of?
Make a list of all the things you’re proud of. These can be milestones, hobbies, qualities, or quirks that are what make you, you. Topics to consider might be:
- Times you saved the day – like that epic left-handed catch you made on the field
- Personal qualities – Maybe you’re really funny, or amazingly calm under pressure. What are some examples of times when you showed those qualities?
- Random life things you’re amazing at – Baking a mean chocolate brownie. Guessing how many gumballs are in a jar. Tell a story when that amazing talent was handy!
Don’t worry if some of your ideas repeat between sections. This is just a way to get ideas flowing!
STEP 2. Shortlist your ideas
Identify your strongest ideas out of the bunch. This should probably be very few (2-4).
STEP 3. Freewrite about your possible essay topics.
Once you’ve brainstormed some ideas and identified 2-4 winners, we agree with Find the Right College – just start freewriting! Start by writing a few sentences or paragraphs about any of your shortlisted topics, and let the words flow. Write for about 15 minutes, on each shortlisted topic. Don’t worry about structure or organization – this is just an exercise so you feel comfortable getting the thoughts out of your head and onto paper.
It will also allow you to see which of the topics seems to have the most “legs” — often, you’ll notice that your best topic will:
- Be the easiest to write about (those 15 minutes flew by!)
- Lead you to tell at least one interesting story
- Feel like it genuinely reveals something important about who you are
- Not be captured easily by other parts of your application (you’ll need a full 500 words to really be able to tackle this meaty topic)
Well, let’s start here: What makes a personal statement good or even great ?
Here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Get personal.
Remember the “personal” in personal statement. We all have a story to tell, and we all have a different journey that led us to where we are today. We might think “someone already wrote about this” or we might think our story isn’t unique, but IT IS.
2. Speak like you.
Write your personal statement in a genuine tone that reflects who you are . There’s no right or wrong tone – just make sure your tone represents YOU. This means, in particular, not using big words just to show off. Often, this just seems like you’re trying to hard. (Or, even worse, you accidentally use the word incorrectly!)
3. Think about your audience.
Who will you be writing your personal statement for? What message do you want to convey? If it’s for to the college admissions committee, how do you show you’ll align well with the culture of the school? If it’s for a scholarship provider, how do you show you support their mission?
4. Hit the big three: Story, Implication, Connection to college/major.
Most successful college essays do at least 3 things:
- Mention at least one anecdote or story. (“Show, don’t tell.”)
- Explain why that anecdote or story is important to who you are.
- End (or begin) by connecting this information, to why you are applying to this specific college. This may include information about the major (why you think their department/program is great), or more general information about what attracts you to the school (e.g., location, sports, extracurricular activities, Greek life). Get specific so the school knows you’re really interested in them! This is the one piece of your personal statement that probably shouldn’t be cut & paste.
Here’s an example of how to use that personal essay template:
- Story: When I was 11, my family traveled to Italy and visited museums — one specific painting made me fall in love with art. ( 1-2 paragraphs )
- Why important: After that trip, I did lots of art and studied lots of art. Mention specific extracurriculars. ( 3 paragraphs )
- Why this college: I want to apply to X college because of its excellent art program, which I can also complement by joining Y and Z clubs. Since it’s in New York, it’ll also offer my the opportunity to visit the countless art museums like MOMA. ( 1 paragraph )
5. Hit the length.
Make sure you keep within the required length. Normally if you aim for 500 words, you’re golden. Some college or scholarship applications will allow you to write up to 600 or 650 words.
6. Edit your work.
Once you’ve written your personal statement, step away from it. There was a time when we used to rely on pencil and paper to write down all of our ideas and information (including first-draft college essays). Now, we mainly rely on screens, so our eyes grow tired, causing us to miss typos and grammar mistakes.
So save that document in an easy-to-find folder on your computer. Then stepping away from your computer and taking a break helps relax your mind and body and then refocus when you come back to edit the document.
( Psst – If you’re applying for scholarships with Going Merry, we’ve got built-in spellcheck, and we allow you to save essays in your documents folder, so no work will get lost! )
We can’t stress this one enough: Don’t submit your personal statement without checking your spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc.! All the grammar things! Your personal statement reflects who you are, from the topic you choose to the style you write it in, so impress colleges (or scholarship providers) with excellent structure and great grammar!
7. Then, ask someone else to edit it too.
We recommend asking a friend, counselor, or parent to read your personal statement before you submit the document. One more set of eyes will really help you get a second opinion on the tone, writing quality, and overall representation of who you are in your personal statement.
8. Be brave, and hit that “submit” button on your personal statement!
Finally, when everything is completed, click submit! Don’t hold back!
9. Remember, personal statements for your college app, can also be reused as scholarship essays.
Get double-use out of your personal statement. Going Merry is your home for all things scholarships–fill out a profile, get matched to eligible scholarships, and apply. You can even save essays so that you can easily upload the same one for multiple scholarship applications. (We were inspired by the Common App to make applying for scholarships easier.)
Register for an account here , get the full lowdown on how it works , or just sign up for the newsletter below (to get 20 scholarship opportunities delivered to our inbox each each week!).
Do you have personal statement examples ?
Oh yes we do. First, here are some excerpts of personal statements from members of our very own Going Merry team!
Charlie Maynard, Going Merry CEO – wrote about what matters most to him and why, for his grad school application.
- The open paragraph read: “Being open to new ideas and able to take advantage of opportunities is what is most important to me. The most extraordinary times in my life have come as a result of moments when I’ve seized opportunities. This has been evident in my educational life, my travels around the world and my professional career.”
- This anchored the main topic of his essay. He then went on to explain examples.
Charlotte Lau, Going Merry Head of Growth – wrote for her college Common App personal statement:
“As a child, I was never close with my father, though we were always on good terms. He made me laugh and taught me all the things that made me into a young tomboy: what an RBI is, how to correctly hook a fish when I feel it biting, what to bring on a camping trip. But whenever I was upset, he wouldn’t know how to comfort me. He is a man of jokes and words, not of comforting motions.
But as I grew older and I too became infatuated with words—albeit in written form—our topics of conversation became more diverse and often more profound. We continued to watch sports games together, but during commercials, we’d have epistemological and ethical discussions more fitting for a philosophy class than a chat during a Knicks’ time-out. During these talks, my father would insert stories about his youth. They’d always be transitory or anecdotal, told as if they were beside the point. Still, I’d eagerly commit them to memory, and, over time, I began to get a sense of who my father was—and, in turn, who I am.”
Now, here are some excerpts from other sample personal statements:
These 3 are college essays about personal characteristics:
Essay 1: Humorous essay about getting a D and learning a lesson
“Getting a D probably isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it’s not something anyone wants to see, let alone put, on a college application. It came back to me, scrawled in red, on the first big history test of the year. The one the teacher had assured us was a third of our grade. I could already see my chances of a four-year college going up in smoke and my school year hadn’t even started yet.
What happened? I’m not a D student. I’ll get the occasional C as well as the occasional A. D’s are out of character for me, and enough of a stomach punch to really get my attention. The short version is, I didn’t study, and I don’t remember precisely why. There is always a reason not to study, isn’t there? I didn’t study and I went into a test woefully unprepared and got beaten up.
I had two options here. I could accept that I was in fact a D student despite what I had thought. Or I could study hard for the next test and try to bring my grade up by the force of the average.”
Essay 2: Why a talent (in this case, one at football) is also a responsibility
“Talent is not remarkable. It’s usually the first thing anyone compliments. “You’re so talented.” It doesn’t mean what they think it means. It doesn’t mean I worked hard. It means I was lucky, or blessed, or anything else you want to call it.
I have talent. I’ve known since I was old enough to hold a football. The game just makes intuitive sense to me. The pathways of the players, both my team and the others, where the ball has to go, and what I’m doing. In the silence before a snap, I’m already playing out what is going to happen, watching the holes in my lines, tracing the route of my receivers. […]
It is far too easy to view talent as an excuse. For me, it is a motivator. For my talent, I will accept nothing less than a dream that only a tiny percentage of people ever get to experience. To get there, I’m willing to work hard and wring every last accomplishment from myself.
Talent is a responsibility. Because you had nothing to do with acquiring it, you are compelled to achieve every last bit you can with it. While I had grown used to thinking varsity would be it, that was not the case. Now, I can focus on the goal while I accomplish the steps.”
Essay 3: On living with depression
“Before I was diagnosed, I had been told it was a normal part of growing up. I was told that teens are moody. I would grow out of it. I couldn’t imagine anyone growing out of what I was feeling. I couldn’t imagine anyone surviving.
Diagnosis and medication have saved my life, allowing me to see the world as people without my brain chemistry would. […] what I found was a place of tiny kindnesses.
It might sound bad—as though kindness can only exist in the smallest forms. This is not what I mean. There are extraordinary people out there who devote their lives to doing very large, very important things for others. I’m not talking about them, partially because they are extraordinary. They are not the norm.
What is normal are the tiny kindnesses. These do not cost a person much of anything. A slice of time, a moment of openness, and little else. They are a smile when you’re feeling down, a comforting hand on the shoulder, a moment to talk.”
And here are 3 college personal statements, about what drove their interest in their intended major:
Essay 4: On why this applicant wants to study music
“My great-great-uncle Giacomo Ferrari was born in 1912 in Neverland, NY, the youngest of four sons. His parents had emigrated from Italy with his two eldest brothers in the early 1900s in search of a better life in America. Their struggles as immigrants are in themselves inspiring, but the challenges they faced are undoubtedly similar to those that many other immigrant families had to overcome; because of this, the actions that my relatives embarked upon are that much more extraordinary. Giacomo’s oldest brother Antonio, my great-grandfather, decided to take a correspondence course in violin, and to teach his youngest brother Giacomo how to play as well. Giacomo Ferrari eventually became an accomplished violinist and started a free “Lunchtime Strings” program for all the elementary schools in the Neverland area, giving free violin lessons and monthly concerts.
As a native English speaker who has had the privilege of studying viola and violin with trained, private teachers, I can only imagine the perseverance it took for my great-grandfather and great-great uncle to learn an instrument like the violin out of booklets and lessons that were not even written in their native language. Their passion and dedication to learning something new, something not part of their lives as blue-collar, immigrant workers, and their desire to share it with others, has inspired me as a musician and a person. It is this spirit that has motivated me to pursue an MA at Composition at the University of XXX.”
Essay 5: On why this applicant wants to be an allergy specialist
“Suddenly I started scratching my neck, feeling the hives that had started to form. I rushed to the restroom to throw up because my throat was itchy and I felt a weight on my chest. I was experiencing anaphylactic shock, which prevented me from taking anything but shallow breaths. I was fighting the one thing that is meant to protect me and keep me alive – my own body.
[…] After that incident, I began to fear. I became scared of death, eating, and even my own body. As I grew older, I became paranoid about checking food labels and I avoided eating if I didn’t know what was in the food. I knew what could happen if I ate one wrong thing, and I wasn’t willing to risk it for a snack. Ultimately, that fear turned into resentment; I resented my body for making me an outsider.
In the years that followed, this experience and my regular visits to my allergy specialist inspired me to become an allergy specialist. Even though I was probably only ten at the time, I wanted to find a way to help kids like me. I wanted to find a solution so that nobody would have to feel the way I did; nobody deserved to feel that pain, fear, and resentment. As I learned more about the medical world, I became more fascinated with the body’s immune responses, specifically, how a body reacts to allergens.”
Essay 6 : On why this applicant wants to study medicine
“My passion for teaching others and sharing knowledge emanates from my curiosity and love for learning. My shadowing experiences in particular have stimulated my curiosity and desire to learn more about the world around me. How does platelet rich plasma stimulate tissue growth? How does diabetes affect the proximal convoluted tubule? My questions never stopped. I wanted to know everything and it felt very satisfying to apply my knowledge to clinical problems. distinct concepts together to form a coherent picture truly attracts me to medicine.
It is hard to separate science from medicine; in fact, medicine is science. However, medicine is also about people—their feelings, struggles and concerns. Humans are not pre-programmed robots that all face the same problems. Humans deserve sensitive and understanding physicians. Humans deserve doctors who are infinitely curious, constantly questioning new advents in medicine. They deserve someone who loves the challenge of problem solving and coming up with innovative individualized solutions. I want to be that physician. I want to be able to approach each case as a unique entity and incorporate my strengths into providing personalized care for my patients. Until that time, I may be found Friday mornings in the operating room, peering over shoulders, dreaming about the day I get to hold the drill.”
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Self-motivation is, in its simplest form, the force that drives you to do things.
The topic of self-motivation, however, is far from simple. People can be motivated by many things, both internal and external, such as desire to do something, love of someone, or need for money. Usually, motivation is a result of several factors.
The ability to motivate yourself—self-motivation—is an important skill. Self-motivation drives people to keep going even in the face of set-backs, to take up opportunities, and to show commitment to what they want to achieve.
This page explains more about this essential area, part of emotional intelligence .
What is Motivation?
Motivation is what pushes us to achieve our goals, feel more fulfilled and improve our overall quality of life.
Understanding and developing your self-motivation can help you to take control of many other aspects of your life.
Motivation is one of the three areas of personal skills that are integral to the concept of emotional intelligence.
Daniel Goleman, the author of several seminal books on Emotional Intelligence, identified four elements that make up motivation:
Personal drive to achieve , the desire to improve or to meet certain standards;
Commitment to personal or organisational goals;
Initiative , which he defined as ‘readiness to act on opportunities’; and
Optimism , the ability to keep going and pursue goals in the face of setbacks. This is also known as resilience.
To improve self-motivation, it is therefore helpful to understand more about these individual elements.
The Elements of Self-Motivation
1. Personal drive to achieve
You could think of a personal drive to achieve as ambition, or perhaps personal empowerment. However, it is also worth thinking about it in terms of mindset.
There are two types of mindset, fixed and growth.
Those with a fixed mindset believe that talent is ingrained, and that we cannot change our level of ability.
Those with a growth mindset believe that they can improve their skills through hard work and effort.
Research shows that those who believe that they can improve—that is, who have a growth mindset —are far more likely to achieve in whatever sphere they choose. A growth mindset is therefore an important element in a personal drive to succeed.
For more about this, see our page on Mindsets .
Other elements of personal drive include being organised , particularly being good at time management , and avoiding distractions .
2. Commitment to goals
There is considerable evidence, even if much of it is anecdotal, that goal-setting is important to our general well-being.
If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.
You should set goals beyond your reach so you always have something to live for.
The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.
It certainly makes sense that ‘ if you aim at nothing, it is easy to achieve it’ , and that most of us need something in our lives to aim towards. Having an awareness of where you wish to be, and an understanding of how you plan to get there, is a vital part of staying motivated.
For more about how to set good goals, see our page on Setting Personal Goals .
Initiative is, effectively, the ability to take advantage of opportunities when they occur.
It is all too easy to hesitate, and then the opportunity may be gone. However, the old sayings ‘ look before you leap ’ and ‘ fools rush in where angels fear to tread’ have a lot of truth in them. It is also important to think things through and ensure that you are making the right decision for you.
Initiative can therefore be considered as a combination of courage and good risk management:
Risk management is necessary to ensure that you identify the right opportunities to consider, and that they have the appropriate level of risk for you; and
Courage is necessary to overcome the fear of the unknown inherent in new opportunities.
4. Optimism or resilience
Optimism is the ability to look on the bright side, or think positively. Resilience is the ability to ‘bounce back’ after a setback, or keep positive in the face of challenges. The two are closely related, although not exactly the same.
Resilient people use their ability to think as a way to manage negative emotional responses to events. In other words, they use positive or rational thinking to examine, and if necessary, overcome reactions that they understand may not be entirely logical. They are also prepared to ask for help if necessary—as well as to offer their own help generously to others in need.
See our pages on Resilience and Positive Thinking for more.
Types of Motivators: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivators
In thinking about self-motivation, it is helpful to understand what motivates you to do things.
There are two main types of motivators: ‘intrinsic’ and ‘extrinsic’.
In their simplest form you can think about these two types of motivation as:
Intrinsic = related to what we want to do.
Extrinsic = related to what we have to do.
A more detailed definition is:
Intrinsic : To perform an action or task based on the expected or perceived satisfaction of performing the action or task. Intrinsic motivators include having fun, being interested and personal challenge.
Extrinsic : To perform an action or task in order to attain some sort of external reward, including money, power and good marks or grades.
Different people are motivated by different things and at different times in their lives. The same task may have more intrinsic motivators at certain times and more extrinsic motivators at others, and most tasks have a combination of the two types of motivation.
John works because he has to pay his mortgage and feed himself and his family. He gets no satisfaction from his job and there is no chance of promotion. John’s motivators are purely extrinsic.
Sally works because she loves what she does, she gets enormous satisfaction and self-fulfilment from her work. Sally has enough money put away that she does not need to work, she owns her house outright and can afford to buy what she wants when she wants it. Sally’s motivators are purely intrinsic.
Clearly Sally and John are at different ends of the self-motivation spectrum. Most people, however, fall somewhere in the middle.
Most people do have to work in order to earn money, but at the same time they also find their day-to-day work life rewarding or satisfying in other intrinsic ways—job satisfaction and the chance to socialise with colleagues, for example.
We all have a tendency to work better when we love what we are doing.
It’s easier to get out of bed in the morning, we are happier in our work, and happier in general.
Research shows that this is particularly important when we’re under stress. It’s much easier to cope with stress and long hours if we generally enjoy the work. Intrinsic motivators therefore plays a big part in self-motivation for most of us.
The Importance of Obligation
What about if a task has neither intrinsic nor extrinsic motivators?
The obvious conclusion is that we are unlikely to do it, because it will be pointless.
We all know it doesn’t always work like that. There is a further issue: feelings of obligation .
Obligation motivators are not strictly either intrinsic or extrinsic but can still be very powerful. Obligation comes from our personal ethics and sense of duty, what is right and what is wrong.
For more about this, you may want to read our page about Goodness: learning to use your ‘moral compass’ .
You may feel obliged to go to a party because you were invited by somebody you know – there will be no obvious extrinsic or intrinsic benefit to you attending but you may worry that you will offend or upset your friend if you don’t go. You are more likely to enjoy the party, however, if you go with a positive and open attitude, expecting it to be fun. This adds an intrinsic motivator: fun and enjoyment.
Further Reading from Skills You Need
The Skills You Need Guide to Personal Development
Learn how to set yourself effective personal goals and find the motivation you need to achieve them. This is the essence of personal development, a set of skills designed to help you reach your full potential, at work, in study and in your personal life.
The second edition of or bestselling eBook is ideal for anyone who wants to improve their skills and learning potential, and it is full of easy-to-follow, practical information.
One Step at a Time…
Becoming self-motivated, or even just improving your self-motivation a little, will not happen overnight.
There are many skills involved, and you cannot expect to develop them all instantly. However, a better understanding of the elements of motivation, and particularly how they fit together, should help to increase your skills. Just remember, Rome was not built in a day: think about making progress over a long period of time and in small steps.
Continue to: Setting Personal Goals How Self-Motivated are You? Quiz
See also: Motivation Skills for Teachers Perseverance How to Write a To-Do List
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What is self-motivation?
Why is self-motivation essential for achieving your goals, what are external and internal motivators, 11 self-motivation techniques, 3 examples of self-motivation, 5 benefits of self-motivation, 5 tips for fostering self-motivation at work, is your lack of motivation telling you something, self-motivation is a skill for life.
The best kind of motivation is self-motivation.
But what is self-motivation? When you’re self-motivated, you do more than empower yourself to check things off the to-do list. Being self-motivated also means having enough self-awareness to know what works for you and what doesn't. Rather than depending on others to give you a reason for doing, your sense of motivation comes from within. Your drive comes from your interests, values, and passions, not someone else's checklist.
But motivating yourself is easier said than done. Some days it feels like you're searching far and wide for anything to help you get things done. Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, feelings of burnout and languish have become widespread. From less time outside to more time online, the past couple of years have taken on a toll on our well-being .
The good news? Learning the meaning of self-motivation can help you improve your mental fitness and start hitting your goals . In fact, self-motivation could be the key to feeling better in both your personal and professional life. Let’s dive into what self-motivation is and why it matters.
To be specific, self-motivation is the internal drive that leads us to take action towards a goal. It keeps us moving forward, even when we don’t want to. An example of this is when you’re going for a run.
You set a goal to run for 20 minutes, but at 15 minutes you’re exhausted. You want to stop. Self-motivation is what keeps you disciplined to run out the clock.
As the name implies, self-motivation works throu gh you, internally. It doesn’t depend on others. When you motivate yourself, you push yourself to reach your personal goals through hard work and passion.
You're the one reaching for new opportunities and doing the Inner Work® needed to make long-term change. This takes sustained effort, self-discipline , and true self-confidence .
Self-motivation is the secret weapon to achieving your goals. It impacts both your professional and personal life. Without it, you could struggle. Though having a support network is important, you can’t depend on others to push you your entire life.
Our goals require a lot of focus , which can be easy to lose. Self-motivation keeps your focus tight because it’s the practice of reminding yourself about the bigger picture. This allows you to ask important questions like, “how will this new skill further my career ?”
Self-motivation helps you see your daily tasks as part of your long-term goals and consider how what you’re doing lines up with your life purpose.
Setting goals that are aligned with your desires can improve your well-being . When you’re motivating yourself, you can work toward achievements that give you a sense of deeper meaning . If you encounter any challenges or obstacles, your self-motivation will propel you through them.
Rather than depending on others to determine your career path, you can make those decisions for yourself — and then find the power inside of you to achieve what you want.
Self-efficacy , w hich refers to our belief in ourselves to meet our goals or a certain standard, is related to self-motivation. If we believe in ourselves and our abilities, we’re more likely to succeed. Knowing that we can stay motivated will improve our self-efficacy , which in turn improves our self-motivation. It’s a win-win.
Ultimately self-motivation shows you that by staying motivated now, you can make your 5-year-plan happen . You are capable of following your dreams — you just need to be resilient and continually focused.
Now that you know what self-motivation is, you might be wondering how to find it. A great way to start is by understanding what motivates you. You’ll likely relate to one of two different types of motivators: internal and external.
Internal motivators provide the motivation you need to do things you want to do. This is c alled intrinsic motivation . If you’re motivated by internal factors, you’re likely to feel satisfied, happy, and interested in your tasks . These tasks can be fun, like baking your favorite cake.
They can also be personal challenges that you know will teach you valuable things, like taking a coding course to get ahead at work. Intrinsic motivation fuels long-term goals that you know benefit your future.
External motivators, or extrinsic motivation , are all about rewards or punishment. These external rewards could be a paycheck or a promotion . Punishment could mean being reprimanded by your boss or even fired. When we're externally motivated, we might not have as much passion or drive as we would for intrinsic goals.
However, external motivators are a great way to stay accountable. In fact, studies have found that rewards enhance our learning in educational settings . Trying to avoid punishment, too, will motivate us to behave better and work harder .
Self-motivation is largely intrinsic since it relies on your own desires and personal rewards to keep you going. But self-motivation might mean that you create external factors to motivate yourself.
For example, you could promise yourself that you can have a nice dinner when you finally finish your workweek. Or, you could invite someone over so that you have to clean your apartment. These are both very valid motivators.
Self-motivation isn’t a skill that you're born with. However, it can be learned if you take the time to focus and change up your normal routine.
If you're wonderi ng how to overcome a lack of self-motivation, here are 11 techniques to try:
- Build healthy habits that help you create momentum each day (like eating a healthy breakfast)
- Develop a growth mindset, not a fixed mindset
- Set goals with the SMART goals method : specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound
- Write up a personal vision statement to keep your intentions clear
- Take a moment to sit down and do a self-evaluation
- Step out of your comfort zone sometimes
- Practice efficient self-management in ways that don’t drain you
- Look at your failures as learning opportunities
- Practice gratitude so you can be motivated by the good things in your life
- Try to keep a positive attitude and practice positive thinking when you’re discouraged
- Reward yourself for your successes and forgive yourself for your failures
Keeping these tips in mind will help you stay motivated when you’re struggling to move forward. And if you need extra support, consider trying BetterUp . We can help you stay on track with your goals and improve your mental fitness.
You can implement self-motivation in all areas of your life. Whether it's at home, in relationships, or at work, self-motivation can be helpful anywhere. It might also look different, depending on where we use it.
Here are thr ee examples of what self-motivation is:
- You're working on a challenging project at work. Rather than wait for others to encourage you, you stay focused on overcoming the obstacles. You ask the right questions and do your own research to fix your problem. Rather than giving up and watching TV, you concentrate on the task at hand.
- Your friends never have to drag you to work out at the gym because you go on your own. You know when your body needs some exercise, and you know that going to the gym makes you feel good. You schedule out time during the week to exercise, regardless of whether someone goes with you.
- At school, your teachers or professors never need to remind you to finish your work because you want to learn more and succeed. Nobody has to prod you or remind you of your deadlines because you're organized. You know your intentions with your education. When you feel like slacking off, you can remind yourself what you’re working toward to stay motivated.
Successful people haven't become successful by being indifferent to their goals. They reach their goals and continue to set new goals thanks to their self-motivation.
Here are five benefits that self-motivated people experience:
- They learn how to present their best self in whatever task they're doing
- They become more resilient because achieving their goals takes time and effort
- They have an eagerness to succeed because their passion drives them forward
- When they fail, they see feedback as a learning opportunity
- They learn to take the initiative to manage their time better
Being motivated at work isn't just a bonus for your manager. Your workplace is an environment where you can learn new skills, connect with others in your industry, and do work that's meaningful to you. If you can become self-motivated at work, it can help you get your next promotion or even find a deeper meaning in your job.
Many of us rely on deadlines or our managers to push us to get things done at work. If you can learn to motivate yourself, however, you can reach a new level of success at work. You’ll be more productive, focused, and respected when you empower yourself to accomplish tasks.
Plus , a study from the University of California discovered that motivated employees were three times more creative than those who lacked motivation. That extra creativity can help you stand out even more in the workplace.
If you struggle with finding motivation, here are 5 tips to help you boost your self-motivation at work:
- Remind yourself of your purpose and why you’re doing the work
- Learn how to rest and avoid burnout so you have the energy to work hard again
- Volunteer to try new things at work or go to educational seminars and conferences
- Learn more skills to keep yourself stimulated
- Ask for feedback on your recent projects to see where you can improve, then make an action plan on how you'll do that
Maybe you've tried all the techniques, tips, and advice in the world to become more self-motivated. Yet, it's just not working. Let this be a learning opportunity rather than seeing it as a failure.
A lack of motivation can signify that your goals aren't challenging enough. If they're too easy, you know you don't have to put tons of effort into them. On the other hand, your goals could be too much at the moment. If they're too lofty or you don't believe in yourself, it may be time to reevaluate your goals.
Adjust them to be something you can reasonably attain right now. A great strategy is to break your large goals down into several smaller steps. Then you can check each step off your list while making progress toward the ultimate goal.
You're not alone if you keep running into the question, "How do I self-motivate?" and only find frustration. Procrastination is natural, and learning how to self-motivate requires you to dig deep. It's your responsibility to figure out what's stopping you and how you can overcome it.
With resilience and sustained effort, you'll learn more about what it takes to become self-motivated. One way to start is by trying some self-discovery. This can help you get in touch with your values, which will increase your self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-acceptance . All this will help you become more self-motivated.
Some skills serve you temporarily. Self-motivation, though, will help you throughout your entire life. It reminds you of your p urpose, your values, and how you can live a meaningful life. Now that you know what self-motivation is, you’re on your way to mastering it.
If you’re struggling with a lack of self-motivation, don’t be embarrassed. Recognizing your struggle will help you dig deeper into your well-being and overall life satisfaction. As you find out what motivates you, you’ll see a change. When you’re working toward your dream life, you’ll have a much easier time staying motivated.
If you need extra support as you learn how to motivate yourself to reach your goals, consider working with BetterUp . We can help you stay focused and hold you accountable so that you become your own best source of motivation.
Erin Eatough, PhD
Sr. Insights Manager
How to stay motivated: 17 tips that will bring you closer to your goals
Ready to be inspired here are 11 self-motivation examples, what moves you understanding motivation is your key to success, ready to be the boss learn how to become a manager, so you want to be your own boss here's how to do it right, how to perfect your “why should we hire you” answer, overcome self-doubt (once and for all): 8 tips to move forward, try these 7 tips to feel more confident at work, are you feeling lost here’s how to find your meaning in life, stay connected with betterup, get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research..
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10+ Motivation Statement Examples [ Personal, Letter, Job ]
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PrepScholar GRE Prep
Gre prep online guides and tips, 3 successful graduate school personal statement examples.
Looking for grad school personal statement examples? Look no further! In this total guide to graduate school personal statement examples, we’ll discuss why you need a personal statement for grad school and what makes a good one. Then we’ll provide three graduate school personal statement samples from our grad school experts. After that, we’ll do a deep dive on one of our personal statement for graduate school examples. Finally, we’ll wrap up with a list of other grad school personal statements you can find online.
Why Do You Need a Personal Statement?
A personal statement is a chance for admissions committees to get to know you: your goals and passions, what you’ll bring to the program, and what you’re hoping to get out of the program. You need to sell the admissions committee on what makes you a worthwhile applicant. The personal statement is a good chance to highlight significant things about you that don’t appear elsewhere on your application.
A personal statement is slightly different from a statement of purpose (also known as a letter of intent). A statement of purpose/letter of intent tends to be more tightly focused on your academic or professional credentials and your future research and/or professional interests.
While a personal statement also addresses your academic experiences and goals, you have more leeway to be a little more, well, personal. In a personal statement, it’s often appropriate to include information on significant life experiences or challenges that aren’t necessarily directly relevant to your field of interest.
Some programs ask for both a personal statement and a statement of purpose/letter of intent. In this case, the personal statement is likely to be much more tightly focused on your life experience and personality assets while the statement of purpose will focus in much more on your academic/research experiences and goals.
However, there’s not always a hard-and-fast demarcation between a personal statement and a statement of purpose. The two statement types should address a lot of the same themes, especially as relates to your future goals and the valuable assets you bring to the program. Some programs will ask for a personal statement but the prompt will be focused primarily on your research and professional experiences and interests. Some will ask for a statement of purpose but the prompt will be more focused on your general life experiences.
When in doubt, give the program what they are asking for in the prompt and don’t get too hung up on whether they call it a personal statement or statement of purpose. You can always call the admissions office to get more clarification on what they want you to address in your admissions essay.
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What Makes a Good Grad School Personal Statement?
A great graduate school personal statement can come in many forms and styles. However, strong grad school personal statement examples all share the same following elements:
A Clear Narrative
Above all, a good personal statement communicates clear messages about what makes you a strong applicant who is likely to have success in graduate school. So to that extent, think about a couple of key points that you want to communicate about yourself and then drill down on how you can best communicate those points. (Your key points should of course be related to what you can bring to the field and to the program specifically).
You can also decide whether to address things like setbacks or gaps in your application as part of your narrative. Have a low GPA for a couple semesters due to a health issue? Been out of a job for a while taking care of a family member? If you do decide to explain an issue like this, make sure that the overall arc is more about demonstrating positive qualities like resilience and diligence than about providing excuses.
A great statement of purpose uses specific examples to illustrate its key messages. This can include anecdotes that demonstrate particular traits or even references to scholars and works that have influenced your academic trajectory to show that you are familiar and insightful about the relevant literature in your field.
Just saying “I love plants,” is pretty vague. Describing how you worked in a plant lab during undergrad and then went home and carefully cultivated your own greenhouse where you cross-bred new flower colors by hand is much more specific and vivid, which makes for better evidence.
A strong personal statement will describe why you are a good fit for the program, and why the program is a good fit for you. It’s important to identify specific things about the program that appeal to you, and how you’ll take advantage of those opportunities. It’s also a good idea to talk about specific professors you might be interested in working with. This shows that you are informed about and genuinely invested in the program.
Even quantitative and science disciplines typically require some writing, so it’s important that your personal statement shows strong writing skills. Make sure that you are communicating clearly and that you don’t have any grammar and spelling errors. It’s helpful to get other people to read your statement and provide feedback. Plan on going through multiple drafts.
Another important thing here is to avoid cliches and gimmicks. Don’t deploy overused phrases and openings like “ever since I was a child.” Don’t structure your statement in a gimmicky way (i.e., writing a faux legal brief about yourself for a law school statement of purpose). The first will make your writing banal; the second is likely to make you stand out in a bad way.
While you can be more personal in a personal statement than in a statement of purpose, it’s important to maintain appropriate boundaries in your writing. Don’t overshare anything too personal about relationships, bodily functions, or illegal activities. Similarly, don’t share anything that makes it seem like you may be out of control, unstable, or an otherwise risky investment. The personal statement is not a confessional booth. If you share inappropriately, you may seem like you have bad judgment, which is a huge red flag to admissions committees.
You should also be careful with how you deploy humor and jokes. Your statement doesn’t have to be totally joyless and serious, but bear in mind that the person reading the statement may not have the same sense of humor as you do. When in doubt, err towards the side of being as inoffensive as possible.
Just as being too intimate in your statement can hurt you, it’s also important not to be overly formal or staid. You should be professional, but conversational.
Graduate School Personal Statement Examples
Our graduate school experts have been kind enough to provide some successful grad school personal statement examples. We’ll provide three examples here, along with brief analysis of what makes each one successful.
Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 1
PDF of Sample Personal Statement 1 – Japanese Studies
For this Japanese Studies master’s degree, the applicant had to provide a statement of purpose outlining her academic goals and experience with Japanese and a separate personal statement describing her personal relationship with Japanese Studies and what led her to pursue a master’s degree.
Here’s what’s successful about this personal statement:
- An attention-grabbing beginning: The applicant begins with the statement that Japanese has never come easily to her and that it’s a brutal language to learn. Seeing as how this is an application for a Japanese Studies program, this is an intriguing beginning that makes the reader want to keep going.
- A compelling narrative: From this attention-grabbing beginning, the applicant builds a well-structured and dramatic narrative tracking her engagement with the Japanese language over time. The clear turning point is her experience studying abroad, leading to a resolution in which she has clarity about her plans. Seeing as how the applicant wants to be a translator of Japanese literature, the tight narrative structure here is a great way to show her writing skills.
- Specific examples that show important traits: The applicant clearly communicates both a deep passion for Japanese through examples of her continued engagement with Japanese and her determination and work ethic by highlighting the challenges she’s faced (and overcome) in her study of the language. This gives the impression that she is an engaged and dedicated student.
Overall, this is a very strong statement both in terms of style and content. It flows well, is memorable, and communicates that the applicant would make the most of the graduate school experience.
Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 2
PDF of Sample Graduate School Personal Statement 2 – Musical Composition
This personal statement for a Music Composition master’s degree discusses the factors that motivate the applicant to pursue graduate study.
Here’s what works well in this statement:
- The applicant provides two clear reasons motivating the student to pursue graduate study: her experiences with music growing up, and her family’s musical history. She then supports those two reasons with examples and analysis.
- The description of her ancestors’ engagement with music is very compelling and memorable. The applicant paints her own involvement with music as almost inevitable based on her family’s long history with musical pursuits.
- The applicant gives thoughtful analysis of the advantages she has been afforded that have allowed her to study music so extensively. We get the sense that she is insightful and empathetic—qualities that would add greatly to any academic community.
This is a strong, serviceable personal statement. And in truth, given that this for a masters in music composition, other elements of the application (like work samples) are probably the most important. However, here are two small changes I would make to improve it:
- I would probably to split the massive second paragraph into 2-3 separate paragraphs. I might use one paragraph to orient the reader to the family’s musical history, one paragraph to discuss Giacomo and Antonio, and one paragraph to discuss how the family has influenced the applicant. As it stands, it’s a little unwieldy and the second paragraph doesn’t have a super-clear focus even though it’s all loosely related to the applicant’s family history with music.
- I would also slightly shorten the anecdote about the applicant’s ancestors and expand more on how this family history has motivated the applicant’s interest in music. In what specific ways has her ancestors’ perseverance inspired her? Did she think about them during hard practice sessions? Is she interested in composing music in a style they might have played? More specific examples here would lend greater depth and clarity to the statement.
Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 3
PDF of Sample Graduate School Personal Statement 3 – Public Health
This is my successful personal statement for Columbia’s Master’s program in Public Health. We’ll do a deep dive on this statement paragraph-by-paragraph in the next section, but I’ll highlight a couple of things that work in this statement here:
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- This statement is clearly organized. Almost every paragraph has a distinct focus and message, and when I move on to a new idea, I move on to a new paragraph with a logical transitions.
- This statement covers a lot of ground in a pretty short space. I discuss my family history, my goals, my educational background, and my professional background. But because the paragraphs are organized and I use specific examples, it doesn’t feel too vague or scattered.
- In addition to including information about my personal motivations, like my family, I also include some analysis about tailoring health interventions with my example of the Zande. This is a good way to show off what kinds of insights I might bring to the program based on my academic background.
Grad School Personal Statement Example: Deep Dive
Now let’s do a deep dive, paragraph-by-paragraph, on one of these sample graduate school personal statements. We’ll use my personal statement that I used when I applied to Columbia’s public health program.
Paragraph One: For twenty-three years, my grandmother (a Veterinarian and an Epidemiologist) ran the Communicable Disease Department of a mid-sized urban public health department. The stories of Grandma Betty doggedly tracking down the named sexual partners of the infected are part of our family lore. Grandma Betty would persuade people to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, encourage safer sexual practices, document the spread of infection and strive to contain and prevent it. Indeed, due to the large gay population in the city where she worked, Grandma Betty was at the forefront of the AIDS crises, and her analysis contributed greatly towards understanding how the disease was contracted and spread. My grandmother has always been a huge inspiration to me, and the reason why a career in public health was always on my radar.
This is an attention-grabbing opening anecdote that avoids most of the usual cliches about childhood dreams and proclivities. This story also subtly shows that I have a sense of public health history, given the significance of the AIDs crisis for public health as a field.
It’s good that I connect this family history to my own interests. However, if I were to revise this paragraph again, I might cut down on some of the detail because when it comes down to it, this story isn’t really about me. It’s important that even (sparingly used) anecdotes about other people ultimately reveal something about you in a personal statement.
Paragraph Two: Recent years have cemented that interest. In January 2012, my parents adopted my little brother Fred from China. Doctors in America subsequently diagnosed Fred with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). My parents were told that if Fred’s condition had been discovered in China, the (very poor) orphanage in which he spent the first 8+ years of his life would have recognized his DMD as a death sentence and denied him sustenance to hasten his demise.
Here’s another compelling anecdote to help explain my interest in public health. This is an appropriately personal detail for a personal statement—it’s a serious thing about my immediate family, but it doesn’t disclose anything that the admissions committee might find concerning or inappropriate.
If I were to take another pass through this paragraph, the main thing I would change is the last phrase. “Denied him sustenance to hasten his demise” is a little flowery. “Denied him food to hasten his death” is actually more powerful because it’s clearer and more direct.
Paragraph Three: It is not right that some people have access to the best doctors and treatment while others have no medical care. I want to pursue an MPH in Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia because studying social factors in health, with a particular focus on socio-health inequities, will prepare me to address these inequities. The interdisciplinary approach of the program appeals to me greatly as I believe interdisciplinary approaches are the most effective way to develop meaningful solutions to complex problems.
In this paragraph I make a neat and clear transition from discussing what sparked my interest in public health and health equity to what I am interested in about Columbia specifically: the interdisciplinary focus of the program, and how that focus will prepare me to solve complex health problems. This paragraph also serves as a good pivot point to start discussing my academic and professional background.
Paragraph Four: My undergraduate education has prepared me well for my chosen career. Understanding the underlying structure of a group’s culture is essential to successfully communicating with the group. In studying folklore and mythology, I’ve learned how to parse the unspoken structures of folk groups, and how those structures can be used to build bridges of understanding. For example, in a culture where most illnesses are believed to be caused by witchcraft, as is the case for the Zande people of central Africa, any successful health intervention or education program would of necessity take into account their very real belief in witchcraft.
In this paragraph, I link my undergraduate education and the skills I learned there to public health. The (very brief) analysis of tailoring health interventions to the Zande is a good way to show insight and show off the competencies I would bring to the program.
Paragraph Five: I now work in the healthcare industry for one of the largest providers of health benefits in the world. In addition to reigniting my passion for data and quantitative analytics, working for this company has immersed me in the business side of healthcare, a critical component of public health.
This brief paragraph highlights my relevant work experience in the healthcare industry. It also allows me to mention my work with data and quantitative analytics, which isn’t necessarily obvious from my academic background, which was primarily based in the social sciences.
Paragraph Six: I intend to pursue a PhD in order to become an expert in how social factors affect health, particularly as related to gender and sexuality. I intend to pursue a certificate in Sexuality, Sexual Health, and Reproduction. Working together with other experts to create effective interventions across cultures and societies, I want to help transform health landscapes both in America and abroad.
This final paragraph is about my future plans and intentions. Unfortunately, it’s a little disjointed, primarily because I discuss goals of pursuing a PhD before I talk about what certificate I want to pursue within the MPH program! Switching those two sentences and discussing my certificate goals within the MPH and then mentioning my PhD plans would make a lot more sense.
I also start two sentences in a row with “I intend,” which is repetitive.
The final sentence is a little bit generic; I might tailor it to specifically discuss a gender and sexual health issue, since that is the primary area of interest I’ve identified.
This was a successful personal statement; I got into (and attended!) the program. It has strong examples, clear organization, and outlines what interests me about the program (its interdisciplinary focus) and what competencies I would bring (a background in cultural analysis and experience with the business side of healthcare). However, a few slight tweaks would elevate this statement to the next level.
Graduate School Personal Statement Examples You Can Find Online
So you need more samples for your personal statement for graduate school? Examples are everywhere on the internet, but they aren’t all of equal quality.
Most of examples are posted as part of writing guides published online by educational institutions. We’ve rounded up some of the best ones here if you are looking for more personal statement examples for graduate school.
Penn State Personal Statement Examples for Graduate School
This selection of ten short personal statements for graduate school and fellowship programs offers an interesting mix of approaches. Some focus more on personal adversity while others focus more closely on professional work within the field.
The writing in some of these statements is a little dry, and most deploy at least a few cliches. However, these are generally strong, serviceable statements that communicate clearly why the student is interested in the field, their skills and competencies, and what about the specific program appeals to them.
Cal State Sample Graduate School Personal Statements
These are good examples of personal statements for graduate school where students deploy lots of very vivid imagery and illustrative anecdotes of life experiences. There are also helpful comments about what works in each of these essays.
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However, all of these statements are definitely pushing the boundaries of acceptable length, as all are above 1000 and one is almost 1500 words! Many programs limit you to 500 words; if you don’t have a limit, you should try to keep it to two single-spaced pages at most (which is about 1000 words).
University of Chicago Personal Statement for Graduate School Examples
These examples of successful essays to the University of Chicago law school cover a wide range of life experiences and topics. The writing in all is very vivid, and all communicate clear messages about the students’ strengths and competencies.
Note, however, that these are all essays that specifically worked for University of Chicago law school. That does not mean that they would work everywhere. In fact, one major thing to note is that many of these responses, while well-written and vivid, barely address the students’ interest in law school at all! This is something that might not work well for most graduate programs.
Wheaton College Personal Statement for Graduate School Sample 10
This successful essay for law school from a Wheaton College undergraduate does a great job tracking the student’s interest in the law in a compelling and personal way. Wheaton offers other graduate school personal statement examples, but this one offers the most persuasive case for the students’ competencies. The student accomplishes this by using clear, well-elaborated examples, showing strong and vivid writing, and highlighting positive qualities like an interest in justice and empathy without seeming grandiose or out of touch.
Wheaton College Personal Statement for Graduate School Sample 1
Based on the background information provided at the bottom of the essay, this essay was apparently successful for this applicant. However, I’ve actually included this essay because it demonstrates an extremely risky approach. While this personal statement is strikingly written and the story is very memorable, it could definitely communicate the wrong message to some admissions committees. The student’s decision not to report the drill sergeant may read incredibly poorly to some admissions committees. They may wonder if the student’s failure to report the sergeant’s violence will ultimately expose more soldiers-in-training to the same kinds of abuses. This incident perhaps reads especially poorly in light of the fact that the military has such a notable problem with violence against women being covered up and otherwise mishandled
It’s actually hard to get a complete picture of the student’s true motivations from this essay, and what we have might raise real questions about the student’s character to some admissions committees. This student took a risk and it paid off, but it could have just as easily backfired spectacularly.
Key Takeaways: Graduate School Personal Statement Examples
In this guide, we discussed why you need a personal statement and how it differs from a statement of purpose. (It’s more personal!)
We also discussed what you’ll find in a strong sample personal statement for graduate school:
- A clear narrative about the applicant and why they are qualified for graduate study.
- Specific examples to support that narrative.
- Compelling reasons why the applicant and the program are a good fit for each other.
- Strong writing, including clear organization and error-free, cliche-free language.
- Appropriate boundaries—sharing without over-sharing.
Then, we provided three strong graduate school personal statement examples for different fields, along with analysis. We did a deep-dive on the third statement.
Finally, we provided a list of other sample grad school personal statements online.
Want more advice on writing a personal statement ? See our guide.
Writing a graduate school statement of purpose? See our statement of purpose samples and a nine-step process for writing the best statement of purpose possible .
If you’re writing a graduate school CV or resume, see our how-to guide to writing a CV , a how-to guide to writing a resume , our list of sample resumes and CVs , resume and CV templates , and a special guide for writing resume objectives .
Need stellar graduate school recommendation letters ? See our guide.
See our 29 tips for successfully applying to graduate school .
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Author: Ellen McCammon
Ellen is a public health graduate student and education expert. She has extensive experience mentoring students of all ages to reach their goals and in-depth knowledge on a variety of health topics. View all posts by Ellen McCammon
50 self-affirmations to help you stay motivated every day.
Contrary to popular belief, a self affirmation will work to motivate you, but there’s a catch: it is only effective if you have high self-esteem.
According to a 2009 study,  present-tense positive affirmations had a positive effect on people with high self-esteem but a negative effect on people with low self-esteem. The researchers found that people with already low levels of self-esteem who made present-tense (“I am…”) positive affirmations actually ended up feeling worse than people who made positive statements but were also allowed to consider ways in which the statements might be inaccurate.
Therefore, if you have low self-esteem, repeatedly telling yourself how great you are won’t help you because, deep down, you don’t believe what you’re saying. It’s important to keep that in mind before you start yelling out affirmations every morning. Joining the free Fast-Track Class – Activate Your Motivation is helpful for you to shift your mindset. Join the focused session now for free!
However, if you’ve got your mind right, and you’ve got confidence in yourself and your abilities (i.e. self-esteem), then choosing a positive self affirmation from the list below could be a great way to boost your motivation .
50 Positive Self-Affirmations
Think of this as a menu of options. Each morning, immediately upon rising, select a few and say them out loud and/or write them down . Doing this will set the tone for your day and get you moving in a positive direction.
- I am successful.
- I am confident.
- I am powerful.
- I am strong.
- I am getting better and better every day.
- All I need is within me right now.
- I wake up motivated.
- I am an unstoppable force of nature.
- I am a living, breathing example of motivation.
- I am living with abundance.
- I am having a positive and inspiring impact on the people I come into contact with.
- I am inspiring people through my work.
- I’m rising above the thoughts that are trying to make me angry or afraid.
- Today is a phenomenal day.
- I am turning DOWN the volume of negativity in my life, while simultaneously turning UP the volume of positivity.
- I am filled with focus.
- I am not pushed by my problems; I am led by my dreams.
- I am grateful for everything I have in my life.
- I am independent and self-sufficient.
- I can be whatever I want to be.
- I am not defined my by past; I am driven by my future.
- I use obstacles to motivate me to learn and grow.
- Today will be a productive day.
- I am intelligent and focused.
- I feel more grateful each day.
- I am getting healthier every day.
- Each and every day, I am getting closer to achieving my goals.
- Through the power of my thoughts and words, incredible transformations are happening in me and within my life right now.
- I am constantly growing and evolving into a better person.
- I’m freeing myself from all destructive doubt and fear.
- I accept myself for who I am and create peace, power and confidence of mind and of heart.
- I am going to forgive myself and free myself. I deserve to forgive and be forgiven.
- I am healing and strengthening every day.
- I’ve made it through hard times before, and I’ve come out stronger and better because of them. I’m going to make it through this.
- I do not waste away a single day of my life. I squeeze every ounce of value out of each of my days on this planet—today, tomorrow, and everyday.
- I must remember the incredible power I possess within me to achieve anything I desire.
- I do not engage with people who try to penetrate my mind with unhelpful thoughts and ideas—I walk away when a person or a situation isn’t healthy for me.
- I belong in this world; there are people that care about me and my worth.
- My past might be ugly, but I am still beautiful.
- I have made mistakes, but I will not let them define me.
- My soul radiates from the inside and warms the souls of others.
- I don’t compare myself to others. The only person I compare myself to is the person I was yesterday. And as long as the person I am today is even the tiniest bit better than the person I was yesterday—I’m meeting my own definition of success.
- Note to self: I am going to make you so proud.
- I finish what matters and let go of what does not.
- I feed my spirit. I train my body. I focus my mind. This is my time.
- My life has meaning. What I do has meaning. My actions are meaningful and inspiring.
- What I have done today was the best I was able to do today. And for that, I am thankful.
- One small positive thought in the morning can change my whole day. So, today I rise with a powerful thought to set the tone and allow success to reverberate through every moment of my day.
- I set goals and go after them with all the determination I can muster. When I do this, my own skills and talents will take me to places that amaze me.
- Happiness is a choice, and today I choose to be happy.
How to Use Self-Affirmations
Daily self talk  is a simple and highly effective self-affirmation technique in which you begin each day by talking to yourself (i.e. your non-conscious mind) as if you were talking to someone that was eagerly ready and willing to receive and carry out your orders, instructions, or suggestions.
Here’s how it works: Instead of speaking to yourself as a single individual, speak to yourself as if you were divided into a group of three: your thoughts, your emotions, and your body. Use a self affirmation from the list below to guide you or to help you create your own self affirmation.
For Your Thoughts
Thoughts, listen up! Stop being so scattered. Stop wasting your time and energy with fears, doubts, worries, and past memories that don’t do us any good. From now on I want you to think positive, powerful, purpose-driven thoughts. Think about love. Think about beautiful and inspiring things. Think about how we’ll overcome our obstacles and crush our goals. Think about our vision for the future and our plans for achieving it. Think about helping others and contributing to the greater good. Think about new ideas. Think about ways of improving. Think only of thoughts that I can use to better myself. If any other thoughts come along, look at them, kick them out, and go back to useful thoughts.
For Your Emotions
Emotions, listen up! Stop dwelling on fears and anxieties, the pain and problems from the past. Stop holding on to anger, guilt, resentment, jealousy, and similar emotions. When any of these emotions arise, go ahead and feel those feelings for a little bit, and then let them fly away and replace them with empowering feelings. I want you to dwell upon empowering emotions, successful feelings, good feelings, happy feelings, conﬁdent feelings, loving feelings, and feelings filled with optimism. I want you to experience these kinds of emotions as often as possible moving forward.
For Your Body
Body, listen up! You are phenomenal, and you do all kinds of wonderful things like pump blood through my body, replenish and rejuvenate my cells, and allow my heart to beat over a hundred thousand times a day — all without me ever even having to tell you to do so. But now I want you to do everything even better. I want you to increase our energy. I want you to increase our strength. I want you to increase our health in every possible way, so that we do everything at the highest level and maintain a perpetual state of peak performance. It’s time to be even more skillful and graceful in all you do, to utilize every ounce of food and air even more effectively than you already do, and to stop any habits that inhibit our strength, energy, vitality and health. And body, I want you to relax more, feel pleasure more, enjoy life more, and give more pleasure to others.
Thank you Thoughts, thank you Emotions, thank you Body, thank you for being the unstoppable force of nature that I am!
Self-affirmations don’t have to be aspirational in nature; you can use them for maintenance, too. For example, you might already consider yourself a confident person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t consistently use a motivational affirmation like, “I am confident” to reminder yourself to keep that confidence-train chugging along. After all, that’s what personal development is all about in the first place — maintaining a constant and never-ending dedication to lead yourself — to keep growing and getting better every day . Personal development is not a one-and-done game; it’s a one-on-one game with yourself that never ends.
Also, keep in mind that affirmations aren’t a science. In actuality, you may get cheerful compliance from yourself (or your subconscious) with some affirmations, push-back with others, and straight-up resistance with others.
So what do you do?
Keep affirming your greatness.
Keep giving yourself the commands you want carried out until you get results…
And then keep going.
More Tips on Creating a Self Affirmation
- 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life
- How a Gratitude Journal and Positive Affirmations Can Change Your Life
- 15 Ways to Practice Positive Self-Talk for Success
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- How to Write Your Personal Statement | Strategies & Examples
How to Write Your Personal Statement | Strategies & Examples
Published on February 12, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on November 28, 2022.
A personal statement is a short essay of around 500–1,000 words, in which you tell a compelling story about who you are, what drives you, and why you’re applying.
To write a successful personal statement for a graduate school application , don’t just summarize your experience; instead, craft a focused narrative in your own voice. Aim to demonstrate three things:
- Your personality: what are your interests, values, and motivations?
- Your talents: what can you bring to the program?
- Your goals: what do you hope the program will do for you?
This article guides you through some winning strategies to build a strong, well-structured personal statement for a master’s or PhD application. You can download the full examples below.
Urban Planning Psychology History
Attend one of our upcoming livestreams and have your draft reviewed by an admissions essay coach. We’ll tell you if you’re on the right track and explain how you can strengthen your case.
Want some extra inspiration? Watch recordings of past grad school essay livestreams.
Table of contents
Getting started with your personal statement, the introduction: start with an attention-grabbing opening, the main body: craft your narrative, the conclusion: look ahead, revising, editing, and proofreading your personal statement, frequently asked questions, want some extra inspiration.
Before you start writing, the first step is to understand exactly what’s expected of you. If the application gives you a question or prompt for your personal statement, the most important thing is to respond to it directly.
For example, you might be asked to focus on the development of your personal identity; challenges you have faced in your life; or your career motivations. This will shape your focus and emphasis—but you still need to find your own unique approach to answering it.
There’s no universal template for a personal statement; it’s your chance to be creative and let your own voice shine through. But there are strategies you can use to build a compelling, well-structured story.
The first paragraph of your personal statement should set the tone and lead smoothly into the story you want to tell.
Strategy 1: Open with a concrete scene
An effective way to catch the reader’s attention is to set up a scene that illustrates something about your character and interests. If you’re stuck, try thinking about:
- A personal experience that changed your perspective
- A story from your family’s history
- A memorable teacher or learning experience
- An unusual or unexpected encounter
To write an effective scene, try to go beyond straightforward description; start with an intriguing sentence that pulls the reader in, and give concrete details to create a convincing atmosphere.
Strategy 2: Open with your motivations
To emphasize your enthusiasm and commitment, you can start by explaining your interest in the subject you want to study or the career path you want to follow.
Just stating that it interests you isn’t enough: first, you need to figure out why you’re interested in this field:
- Is it a longstanding passion or a recent discovery?
- Does it come naturally or have you had to work hard at it?
- How does it fit into the rest of your life?
- What do you think it contributes to society?
Tips for the introduction
- Don’t start on a cliche: avoid phrases like “Ever since I was a child…” or “For as long as I can remember…”
- Do save the introduction for last. If you’re struggling to come up with a strong opening, leave it aside, and note down any interesting ideas that occur to you as you write the rest of the personal statement.
Once you’ve set up the main themes of your personal statement, you’ll delve into more detail about your experiences and motivations.
To structure the body of your personal statement, there are various strategies you can use.
Strategy 1: Describe your development over time
One of the simplest strategies is to give a chronological overview of key experiences that have led you to apply for graduate school.
- What first sparked your interest in the field?
- Which classes, assignments, classmates, internships, or other activities helped you develop your knowledge and skills?
- Where do you want to go next? How does this program fit into your future plans?
Don’t try to include absolutely everything you’ve done—pick out highlights that are relevant to your application. Aim to craft a compelling narrative that shows how you’ve changed and actively developed yourself.
My interest in psychology was first sparked early in my high school career. Though somewhat scientifically inclined, I found that what interested me most was not the equations we learned about in physics and chemistry, but the motivations and perceptions of my fellow students, and the subtle social dynamics that I observed inside and outside the classroom. I wanted to learn how our identities, beliefs, and behaviours are shaped through our interactions with others, so I decided to major in Social Psychology. My undergraduate studies deepened my understanding of, and fascination with, the interplay between an individual mind and its social context.During my studies, I acquired a solid foundation of knowledge about concepts like social influence and group dynamics, but I also took classes on various topics not strictly related to my major. I was particularly interested in how other fields intersect with psychology—the classes I took on media studies, biology, and literature all enhanced my understanding of psychological concepts by providing different lenses through which to look at the issues involved.
Strategy 2: Own your challenges and obstacles
If your path to graduate school hasn’t been easy or straightforward, you can turn this into a strength, and structure your personal statement as a story of overcoming obstacles.
- Is your social, cultural or economic background underrepresented in the field? Show how your experiences will contribute a unique perspective.
- Do you have gaps in your resume or lower-than-ideal grades? Explain the challenges you faced and how you dealt with them.
Don’t focus too heavily on negatives, but use them to highlight your positive qualities. Resilience, resourcefulness and perseverance make you a promising graduate school candidate.
Growing up working class, urban decay becomes depressingly familiar. The sight of a row of abandoned houses does not surprise me, but it continues to bother me. Since high school, I have been determined to pursue a career in urban planning. While people of my background experience the consequences of urban planning decisions first-hand, we are underrepresented in the field itself. Ironically, given my motivation, my economic background has made my studies challenging. I was fortunate enough to be awarded a scholarship for my undergraduate studies, but after graduation I took jobs in unrelated fields to help support my parents. In the three years since, I have not lost my ambition. Now I am keen to resume my studies, and I believe I can bring an invaluable perspective to the table: that of the people most impacted by the decisions of urban planners.
Strategy 3: Demonstrate your knowledge of the field
Especially if you’re applying for a PhD or another research-focused program, it’s a good idea to show your familiarity with the subject and the department. Your personal statement can focus on the area you want to specialize in and reflect on why it matters to you.
- Reflect on the topics or themes that you’ve focused on in your studies. What draws you to them?
- Discuss any academic achievements, influential teachers, or other highlights of your education.
- Talk about the questions you’d like to explore in your research and why you think they’re important.
The personal statement isn’t a research proposal , so don’t go overboard on detail—but it’s a great opportunity to show your enthusiasm for the field and your capacity for original thinking.
In applying for this research program, my intention is to build on the multidisciplinary approach I have taken in my studies so far, combining knowledge from disparate fields of study to better understand psychological concepts and issues. The Media Psychology program stands out to me as the perfect environment for this kind of research, given its researchers’ openness to collaboration across diverse fields. I am impressed by the department’s innovative interdisciplinary projects that focus on the shifting landscape of media and technology, and I hope that my own work can follow a similarly trailblazing approach. More specifically, I want to develop my understanding of the intersection of psychology and media studies, and explore how media psychology theories and methods might be applied to neurodivergent minds. I am interested not only in media psychology but also in psychological disorders, and how the two interact. This is something I touched on during my undergraduate studies and that I’m excited to delve into further.
Strategy 4: Discuss your professional ambitions
Especially if you’re applying for a more professionally-oriented program (such as an MBA), it’s a good idea to focus on concrete goals and how the program will help you achieve them.
- If your career is just getting started, show how your character is suited to the field, and explain how graduate school will help you develop your talents.
- If you have already worked in the profession, show what you’ve achieved so far, and explain how the program will allow you to take the next step.
- If you are planning a career change, explain what has driven this decision and how your existing experience will help you succeed.
Don’t just state the position you want to achieve. You should demonstrate that you’ve put plenty of thought into your career plans and show why you’re well-suited to this profession.
One thing that fascinated me about the field during my undergraduate studies was the sheer number of different elements whose interactions constitute a person’s experience of an urban environment. Any number of factors could transform the scene I described at the beginning: What if there were no bus route? Better community outreach in the neighborhood? Worse law enforcement? More or fewer jobs available in the area? Some of these factors are out of the hands of an urban planner, but without taking them all into consideration, the planner has an incomplete picture of their task. Through further study I hope to develop my understanding of how these disparate elements combine and interact to create the urban environment. I am interested in the social, psychological and political effects our surroundings have on our lives. My studies will allow me to work on projects directly affecting the kinds of working-class urban communities I know well. I believe I can bring my own experiences, as well as my education, to bear upon the problem of improving infrastructure and quality of life in these communities.
Tips for the main body
- Don’t rehash your resume by trying to summarize everything you’ve done so far; the personal statement isn’t about listing your academic or professional experience, but about reflecting, evaluating, and relating it to broader themes.
- Do make your statements into stories: Instead of saying you’re hard-working and self-motivated, write about your internship where you took the initiative to start a new project. Instead of saying you’ve always loved reading, reflect on a novel or poem that changed your perspective.
Your conclusion should bring the focus back to the program and what you hope to get out of it, whether that’s developing practical skills, exploring intellectual questions, or both.
Emphasize the fit with your specific interests, showing why this program would be the best way to achieve your aims.
Strategy 1: What do you want to know?
If you’re applying for a more academic or research-focused program, end on a note of curiosity: what do you hope to learn, and why do you think this is the best place to learn it?
If there are specific classes or faculty members that you’re excited to learn from, this is the place to express your enthusiasm.
Strategy 2: What do you want to do?
If you’re applying for a program that focuses more on professional training, your conclusion can look to your career aspirations: what role do you want to play in society, and why is this program the best choice to help you get there?
Tips for the conclusion
- Don’t summarize what you’ve already said. You have limited space in a personal statement, so use it wisely!
- Do think bigger than yourself: try to express how your individual aspirations relate to your local community, your academic field, or society more broadly. It’s not just about what you’ll get out of graduate school, but about what you’ll be able to give back.
You’ll be expected to do a lot of writing in graduate school, so make a good first impression: leave yourself plenty of time to revise and polish the text.
Your style doesn’t have to be as formal as other kinds of academic writing, but it should be clear, direct and coherent. Make sure that each paragraph flows smoothly from the last, using topic sentences and transitions to create clear connections between each part.
Don’t be afraid to rewrite and restructure as much as necessary. Since you have a lot of freedom in the structure of a personal statement, you can experiment and move information around to see what works best.
Finally, it’s essential to carefully proofread your personal statement and fix any language errors. Before you submit your application, consider investing in professional personal statement editing . For $150, you have the peace of mind that your personal statement is grammatically correct, strong in term of your arguments, and free of awkward mistakes.
A statement of purpose is usually more formal, focusing on your academic or professional goals. It shouldn’t include anything that isn’t directly relevant to the application.
A personal statement can often be more creative. It might tell a story that isn’t directly related to the application, but that shows something about your personality, values, and motivations.
However, both types of document have the same overall goal: to demonstrate your potential as a graduate student and s how why you’re a great match for the program.
The typical length of a personal statement for graduate school applications is between 500 and 1,000 words.
Different programs have different requirements, so always check if there’s a minimum or maximum length and stick to the guidelines. If there is no recommended word count, aim for no more than 1-2 pages.
If you’re applying to multiple graduate school programs, you should tailor your personal statement to each application.
Some applications provide a prompt or question. In this case, you might have to write a new personal statement from scratch: the most important task is to respond to what you have been asked.
If there’s no prompt or guidelines, you can re-use the same idea for your personal statement – but change the details wherever relevant, making sure to emphasize why you’re applying to this specific program.
If the application also includes other essays, such as a statement of purpose , you might have to revise your personal statement to avoid repeating the same information.
During our livestream sessions, we invite students to submit their personal statement drafts and receive live feedback from our essay coaches. Check out recordings of our past sessions:
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How to Motivate Yourself: 11 Tips for Self Improvement
Achieve your goals with these science-backed motivation enhancers.
Setting a goal—anything from getting a degree or landing a new job to achieving a new level of physical fitness—is a big step toward improving your life. But following through to achieve what we’ve set out to accomplish can be challenging, especially on those days when motivation wanes. So how do you follow through on your commitments during those times when you just don’t feel like putting in the work?
We all lose motivation from time to time. When you’re feeling unmotivated, try one of these science-backed strategies to get yourself back on track toward your goal.
Put your goal on the calendar.
Make working toward your goal a habit.
Plan for imperfection.
Set small goals to build momentum.
Track your progress.
Reward yourself for the little wins as well as the big ones.
Embrace positive peer pressure.
Practice gratitude (including for yourself).
Do some mood lifting.
Change your environment.
Remember your “why.”
Let's take a closer look at each of the above tips. Here, we'll break down these self-motivation techniques, detailing what they are and the science behind them.
1. Put your goal on the calendar.
One way to give a boost to your internal motivation is to create some external motivation: a target date. Whatever it is you’re aiming to accomplish, put it on the calendar. You may be working toward a goal with a set finish date built in. Examples include preparing for a test or taking a course with a fixed end date.
If your goal lacks this structure, you can add it by deciding on a date by which you could realistically achieve your goal.
Want to run a 5k or marathon? Sign up for a race on or near your target date. Considering a degree? Research the application deadline and write it down. Aiming to learn a new career skill? Register for a course and set a target date to finish.
Having a target date not only helps you stay motivated, it also helps you track your progress—you always know how much further you have to go. This can have a big impact on your performance [ 1 ].
Tip: Setting a target date
Be realistic when setting your target date, but resist the urge to give yourself more time than you’ll need. Studies show that we sometimes perceive longer goals as more difficult, even when they’re not. This can lead to a greater likelihood of procrastination or quitting [ 2 ].
2. Make working toward your goal a habit.
When you make working toward your goal a habit—an automatic conditioned response—you no longer have to rely so much on feeling motivated. How do you turn a behavior into a habit?
Identify a trigger.
Choose something that you already do everyday, like brushing your teeth or eating lunch, to be a trigger for the action you want to make a habit. Write out an “if-then” plan (also known as an implementation intention).
For example, if you want to create a habit of studying for a class everyday, your if-then plan might look like this:
If I pour my first cup of coffee, then I will spend five minutes on my math homework.
To build consistency in exercise, it might look like this:
If I get up and brush my teeth, then I will immediately put on my workout clothes.
Making this plan and committing it to writing could increase the likelihood of following through [ 3 ].
Notice that the above examples do not say that you’ll read six chapters of your textbook, watch two hours of lecture videos, or spend an hour sweating on the treadmill.
Getting started is often the hardest part on low-motivation days, and starting is much easier when the task is small: Five minutes of study or putting on your workout clothes [ 4 ].
These seemingly small actions can prime your mind for the task at hand, so the followthrough—a longer study session or a full workout—can happen more naturally with less mental resistance, according to The Science of Self Help [ 5 ].
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3. Plan for imperfection.
It’s great to feel excited and confident about achieving your goal, but it’s also possible to be too optimistic [ 6 ]. Not every day will go exactly as planned, and that’s okay. Life happens.
One way to boost motivation on difficult days is simply to plan for them. As you think about your goal, jot down a list of the things that could get in your way. If you’re taking an online course, this could include:
Losing internet access
Getting a phone call in the middle of a study session
Having a child home sick
Feeling stuck on a difficult concept or assignment
If your goal is to go running everyday, some obstacles might include:
Getting asked to stay late at work during the time you usually run
We can’t predict everything that could happen, but we can predict those obstacles that are likely to happen from time to time based on our unique circumstances.
Once you have your list, make a plan for how to handle the obstacle. How can you plan ahead for when your internet goes out? Maybe you could keep a few lecture videos downloaded to your phone or computer for offline access, or you could identify a nearby coffee shop that offers free wifi.
Now when that obstacle pops up, instead of losing motivation and feeling deflated, you have a plan in place to keep the momentum going.
Keep in mind that for some obstacles, missing your task is a perfectly acceptable plan.
The WOOP method
Next time you’re setting a goal for yourself, practice the WOOP technique, pioneered by Dr. Gabriele Oettingen. This stands for Wish , Outcome , Obstacle , and Plan . What is your wish? What would be the outcome of that wish coming true? What main obstacle stands in your way? What can you do to overcome that obstacle?
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4. Set small goals to build momentum.
“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another.”
Naval Admiral William H. McRaven gave this advice during his commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. The former Navy SEAL was onto something.
Research shows that frequent small successes can build a sense of momentum that can in turn drive long-term success, especially early in the process [ 7 , 8 ]. Whatever your big goal may be, start by breaking it down into smaller chunks. Getting a new job might be a big goal. Smaller goals could be updating your resume, making a portfolio website, earning a certification, or attending a networking event.
Did you know?
Setting goals at the start of a new week, month, or year can naturally lead to increased motivation [ 9 ]. We tend to mentally associate these temporal landmarks with new beginnings while creating mental distance from any perceived shortcomings in our past. Now that’s what we call a motivational Monday.
5. Track your progress.
Seeing progress can be highly motivating [ 10 ]. You’ll find many tools out there to help you track your goals. This could be as simple as a to-do list or calendar where you can cross off tasks or days as you complete them. Or you might opt for a free tool like Trello , which allows you to create a personalized digital task board to categorize your big goal into daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly sub goals.
Another option is to draw a progress bar on a sheet of poster board or paper. Hang it somewhere where you’ll see it regularly, and fill it in as you get closer to your goal.
What is a SMART goal?
Sometimes the best goals are SMART goals—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound.
6. Reward yourself for the little wins as well as the big ones.
It feels good to be rewarded for our work. But rewards can also improve motivation and performance. Rewarding yourself for reaching small milestones and completing big goals could boost your interest and enjoyment in the work you’re doing [ 11 ].
These rewards don’t have to be big or cost a lot of money. Here’s a quick list of ideas you could use to reward yourself:
Take a short break
Go for a walk outside
Enjoy your favorite snack
Read a chapter of your favorite book
Spend a few minutes meditating
Listen to an episode of your favorite podcast
Plan a night out with friends
Play an online game
Visit a free museum or attraction
Have a long bath or shower
Call a friend or family member
Spend a few minutes making your own reward list so that you’re ready to celebrate your wins, big and small.
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7. Embrace positive peer pressure.
You’re ultimately the one who puts in the work to achieve your goals. But other people can be a great motivator.
Research shows that feeling like you’re part of a team can lead to boosted perseverance, engagement, and performance, even if you’re working alone [ 12 ]. Depending on your goal, this might mean joining a study group, running team, gym class, professional organization, or virtual challenge.
Another study suggests that sharing your goal with someone whose opinion you value can strengthen your commitment to attaining that goal [ 13 ]. For work goals, consider sharing with a mentor or supervisor. You might choose to share educational goals with a teacher or academic advisor, or fitness goals with a coach or fellow gym member who you admire.
8. Practice gratitude (including for yourself).
It might seem like gratitude would lead to complacency and acceptance of the status quo. Yet some studies have shown otherwise. Feelings of gratitude can:
Motivate self-improvement [ 14 ]
Make us feel connected to others (i.e. part of the team) [ 15 ]
Enhance motivation across time, beyond the duration of the gratitude practice [ 16 ]
Induce a sense of wanting to give back [ 17 ]
Improve physical and mental health, as well as sleep [ 18 ]
There’s more than one way to foster an attitude of gratitude. Spend the first five minutes after you wake up going through all the things you feel grateful for. Better yet, write them down in a gratitude journal. Is there someone in your life you’re particularly grateful for? Write them a letter expressing your thanks.
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9. Do some mood lifting.
A good mood has been linked to increased productivity, and improvement in both quality and quantity of work [ 19 , 20 ]. This doesn’t mean that you have to be positive all the time—that’s not realistic. But if you’re feeling sluggish about working toward your goal, a quick mood lift could be enough to get you started.
Need some ideas for how to boost your mood? You could try to:
Spend some time in nature (or at least get some sunlight) [ 21 ]
Look at some cute pictures or videos of animals on r/aww [ 22 ]
Watch funny videos on YouTube [ 23 ]
Exercise [ 24 ]
Adopt an alter ego (i.e. the Batman effect) [ 25 ]
10. Change your environment.
Sometimes a change of scenery can help you approach your task with fresh eyes (and a new sense of motivation). This is called the novelty effect—a short-term boost that comes from altering your environment [ 26 ].
If you usually study at home, have a session at your local library. Do you always watch lecture videos on your computer? Try downloading them to your phone to watch outside in the park. Switch up your running route, or try a new exercise routine.
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11. Remember your “why.”
Why is this goal important to you? Why is that reason important to you? Why is that important to you? Keep digging until you get to your ultimate “why”—the core value that’s driving your goal.
To further reinforce your “why,” set an alarm every morning to remind yourself to spend one or two minutes visualizing what success would look like. What would it feel like to achieve your goal?
What’s your career goal?
Empower yourself to achieve your career goals, big and small, with Coursera Plus . Get unlimited access to more than 7,000 courses, hands-on projects, and certificate programs to enhance your resume. Get started with a seven-day free trial.
Maayan Katzir, Aviv Emanuel, Nira Liberman. " Cognitive performance is enhanced if one knows when the task will end ." Cognition 197 (April 2020).
Meng Zhu, Rajesh Bagchi, Stefan J Hock. " The Mere Deadline Effect: Why More Time Might Sabotage Goal Pursuit ." Journal of Consumer Research 45, no. 5 (April 2018): 1068-1084.
P.M. Gollwitzer. " Implementation intentions: Strong effects of simple plans ." American Psychologist 54, no. 7 (1999): 493-503.
Benjamin Gardner. " Making health habitual: the psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and general practice ." British Journal of General Practice 62, no. 605 (December 2012): 664-666.
The Science of Self-Help. " The Elements of Change: A Grand Unified Theory of Self-Help , https://scienceofselfhelp.org/articles-1/2018/11/28/the-elements-of-change-a-grand-unified-theory-of-self-help." Accessed July 20, 2022.
WOOP. " The science behind WOOP , https://woopmylife.org/en/science." Accessed July 20, 2022.
Seppo E. Iso-Ahola and Charles O. Dotson. " Psychological Momentum—A Key to Continued Success ." Frontiers in Psychology 7 (August 2016): 1326.
Stanford Graduate School of Business. " Focus on Small Steps First, Then Shift to the Larger Goal , https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/focus-small-steps-first-then-shift-larger-goal." Accessed July 20, 2022.
Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, Jason Riis. " Put Your Imperfections Behind You: Temporal Landmarks Spur Goal Initiation When They Signal New Beginnings ." Psychological Science 26, no. 12 (November 2015).
ScienceDaily. " Frequently monitoring progress toward goals increases chance of success , https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151029101349.htm." Accessed July 20, 2022.
K. Woolley, A. Fishbach. " It’s about time: Earlier rewards increase intrinsic motivation ." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 114, no. 6 (2018): 877-890.
Association for Psychological Science. " Just Feeling Like Part of a Team Increases Motivation on Challenging Tasks , https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/minds-business/just-feeling-like-part-of-a-team-increases-motivation-on-challenging-tasks.html." Accessed July 20, 2022.
H.J. Klein, R.B. Lount Jr., H.M. Park, B.J. Linford. " When goals are known: The effects of audience relative status on goal commitment and performance ." Journal of Applied Psychology 105, no. 4 (2020): 372-389.
Christina N. Armenta, Megan M. Fritz, Sonja Lyubomirsky. " Functions of Positive Emotions: Gratitude as a Motivator of Self-Improvement and Positive Change ." Emotion Review 9, no. 3 (June 2017).
University of California, Riverside. " Gratitude and Self-Improvement in Adolescents , http://christinaarmenta.weebly.com/uploads/3/0/7/2/30720023/armenta_spsp_poster_2017_final.pdf." Accessed July 20, 2022.
Norberto Eiji Nawa, Noriko Yamagishi. " Enhanced academic motivation in university students following a 2-week online gratitude journal intervention ." BMC Psychology 9, no. 71 (2021).
Psychology Today. " Motivation and Gratitude: How They Can Go Hand in Hand , https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/comfort-gratitude/202105/motivation-and-gratitude-how-they-can-go-hand-in-hand." Accessed July 20, 2022.
Forbes. " 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round , https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/11/23/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-gratitude-that-will-motivate-you-to-give-thanks-year-round/?sh=570a27a6183c." Accessed July 20, 2022.
Jeff Grabmeier. " Got up on the wrong side of the bed? Your work will show it ." Academy of Management Journal (April 2011).
Warwick. " New study shows we work harder when we are happy , https://warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/new_study_shows/." Accessed July 20, 2022.
Gregory N. Bratman, J. Paul Hamilton, Kevin S. Hahn, Gretchen C. Daily, and James J. Gross. " Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation ." PNAS 112, no. 28 (July 2015): 8567-8572.
Hiroshi Nittono, Michiko Fukushima, Akihiro Yano, Hiroki Moriya. " The Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attentional Focus ." PLOS ONE 7, no. 9 (April 2012).
Dexter Louie, BA, Karolina Brook, MD, and Elizabeth Frates, MD. " The Laughter Prescription ." American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine 10, 4 (September 2014).
The University Record. " Study suggests people should get moving to get happier , https://record.umich.edu/articles/study-suggests-people-should-get-moving-get-happier/." Accessed July 20, 2022.
BBC.com. " The 'Batman Effect': How having an alter ego empowers you , https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200817-the-batman-effect-how-having-an-alter-ego-empowers-you." Accessed July 20, 2022.
The Science of Self-Help. " Meal Prepping, The Novelty Effect, and "Structured Randomness , https://scienceofselfhelp.org/articles-1/2018/5/25/meal-prepping-the-novelty-effect-and-structured-randomness." Accessed July 20, 2022.
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CV personal statement examples
Landing job interviews in requires a strong personal statement at the top of your CV.
Essentially, your CV personal statement is a brief paragraph which appears at the very top of your CV – and it’s aim is to summarise the benefits of hiring you and encourage employers to read your CV in full.
In this guide I have included 14 CV personal statement examples with helpful notes under each one, followed by a detailed guide of how to write your own personal statement that will win you lots of interviews.
14 CV personal statement examples
To start this guide, I have included 10 examples of good personal statements, to give you an idea of how a personal statement should look , and what should be included.
Note: personal statements are generally used by junior candidates – if you are experienced, check out our CV profile examples instead.
Graduate CV personal statement (no experience)
Although this graduate has no paid work experience, they compensate for it by showcasing all of the skills and knowledge the have gained during their studies, and demonstrating how they apply their knowledge in academic and personal projects.
Graduate CV personal statement (part time freelance experience)
This candidate has graduated with a degree in biochemistry but actually wants to start a career in digital marketing after providing some digital freelance services to fund their studies.
In this case, they haven’t made much mention of their studies because they aren’t relevant to the digital marketing agencies they are applying to. Instead they have focused their personal statement around their freelance work and passion for the digital field – although they still mention the fact they are degree educated to prove their academic success.
School leaver CV personal statement (no experience)
This candidate is 16 years old and has no work experience whatsoever, but they compensate for this by detailing their academic achievements that relate to the roles they are applying for (maths and literacy are important requirements in finance and accountancy roles).
They also add some info on their extracurricular activities and school work-placements, to strengthen this student CV further.
Top tips for writing a CV personal statement
- Thoroughly research the jobs and companies you are planning to apply for to identify the type of candidate they are looking for – try to reflect that in your personal statement
- Don’t be afraid to brag a little – include some of your most impressive achievements from education, work or personal life
- Focus on describing the benefits an employer will get from hiring you. Will you help them to get more customers? Improve their workplace? Save them time and money?
- If you have no work experience, demonstrate transferable workplace skills from your education, projects, or even hobbies
School leaver CV personal statement (part time experience)
Although this person has only just left school, they have also undertaken some part-time work in a call centre alongside their studies.
To make the most of this experience, they have combined their academic achievements with their workplace exposure in this personal statement.
By highlighting their GCSE results, summer programme involvement, work experience and expressing their ambitions to progress within sales, this candidate really makes an appealing case for hiring them.
College leaver CV personal statement (no experience)
This candidate has left college with good grades, but does not yet have any work experience.
To compensate for the lack of workplace exposure, they have made their A level results prominent and highlighted skills and experience which would benefit the employers they are targeting.
Any recruiter reading this profile can quickly understand that this candidate has great academic achievements, a passion for IT and finance and the ability to transfer their skills into an office environment.
College student CV personal statement (freelance experience)
As this student has picked up a small amount of freelance writing work during their studies, they have made sure to brag about it in their personal statement.
They give details on their relevant A level studies to show the skills they are learning, and boost this further by highlighting the fact that they have been applying these skills in a real-life work setting by providing freelance services.
They also include key action verbs that recruiters will be looking for , such as creative writing, working to deadlines, and producing copy.
Academic CV personal statement
Aside from junior candidates, the only other people who might use a personal statement, are academic professionals; as their CV’s tend to be more longer and detailed than other professions.
This candidate provides a high level overview of their field of study, length of experience, and the roles they have held within universities.
School leaver CV personal statement with and sports experience
Although this person has no work experience, they are still able to show employers the value of hiring them by selling their other achievements and explaining how they could benefit an organisation.
They expand on their sports club involvement to demonstrate their teamwork, leadership skills, communication and motivation, which are all important traits in the workplace, and will be looked upon favourably by recruiters and hiring managers.
They also draw upon their future plans to study business studies and take a part time job, to further prove their ambition and dedication.
History graduate CV personal statement
This history graduate proves their aptitude for both academic achievement and workplace aptitude by showcasing valuable skills from their degree and voluntary work.
They do this by breaking down the key requirements for each and showing how their skills could be beneficial for future employers, such as listening, communication, and crisis management.
They also describe how their ability to balance studies alongside voluntary work has not only boosted their knowledge and skills, but also given excellent time management and organisational skills – which are vital assets to any employer.
Law graduate CV personal statement
This legal graduate makes the most from their work university work placements by using it to bulk out the contents of their CV personal statement.
They include their degree to show they have the necessary qualifications for legal roles, which is crucial, but more importantly, they showcase how they applied their legal skills within a real-life work setting.
They give a brief overview of the types of legal professionals they have been working alongside and the type of work they have been carrying out – this is all it takes to get the attention of recruiters and show employers they have what it takes to fulfil roles in the legal sector.
Medical student CV personal statement
This medical student proves their fit for the role by showcasing the key skills they have gained from their studies and their work experience placements.
In just these few sentences, they are able to highlight the vast amount of experience they have across different disciplines in the industry, something which is particularly important in the medical sector.
As they have not graduated yet and are still studying, they have provided proof of their most recent grades. This can give the recruiter some indication as to the type of grade they could be graduating with in the near future.
Masters student CV personal statement
This masters student has started by specifying their area of study, in this case, accounting, and given details about the specific areas of finance they are most interested in. This can hint towards their career goals and passions.
They have then carefully listed some of the key areas of accounting and finance that they are proficient in. For example, business finance, advanced corporate finance and statistics.
They have also outlined some of the transferable skills needed for accounting roles that employers will be looking out for, such as communication, attention to detail and analytical skills.
Finance student CV personal statement
As this finance student has recently undertaken some relevant work experience, they’ve made sure to shout about this in their personal profile.
But more than this, they have included a list of some of the important finance skills they gained as a result of this work experience – for example, financial reporting, processing invoices and month-end reconciliations.
Plus, through power words and phrases such as ‘prevent loss’ and ‘ improve upon accuracy and efficiency’, they have also showcased how they can apply these skills in a workplace setting to benefit the potential employer.
Internship CV personal statement
This digital marketing professional has started their personal profile by outlining their most relevant qualifications and work experience, most notably their freelance role as a content manager.
They have also provided examples of some of the key marketing skills that potential employers might be looking for, including very detailed examples of the platforms and tools they are proficient in – for example, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest.
They have then closed their statement by giving a detailed description of the type of role or opportunity they are looking for. In this case, an in-house position in a marketing company.
How to write a personal statement for your CV
Now that you’ve seen what a personal statement should look like and the type of content it should contain, follow this detailed guide to one for your own CV – and start racking those interviews up.
What is a CV personal statement?
Cv personal statement or cv profile, personal statement format, what to include in a cv personal statement.
- Personal statement mistakes
How to write persuasively
A personal statement is a short paragraph at the top of your CV which gives employers an overview of your education, skills and experience
It’s purpose is to capture the attention of busy recruiters and hiring managers when your CV is first opened – encouraging them to read the rest of it.
You achieve this by writing a tailored summary of yourself that explains your suitability for the roles you are applying for at a very high level, and matches your target job descriptions .
One question candidates often ask me is , “what is the difference between a personal statement and a CV profile?”
To be honest, they are almost the same – they are both introductory paragraphs that sit at the top of your CV… but there are 2 main differences
A personal statement tends to be used more by junior candidates (graduates, school leavers etc.) and is relatively long and detailed.
A CV profile tends to be favoured by more experienced candidates , and is shorter in length than a personal statement.
Note: If you are an experienced candidate, you may want to switch over to my CV profile writing guide , or example CV profiles page.
To ensure you grab recruiters’ attention with your personal statement, lay it out in the following way.
You need to ensure that your personal statement sits at the very top of your CV, and all of it should be totally visible to readers, without the need to scroll down the page.
Do this by reducing the top page margin and minimising the space taken up by your contact details.
This will ensure that your whole personal statement can be seen, as soon as your CV is opened.
We have a Word CV template which can help you to get this right.
Your personal statement needs to contain enough detail to provide an introduction to your skills and knowledge, but not so much detail that it bores readers.
To strike the right balance, anything between 8-15 lines of text is perfect – and sentences should be sharp and to-the-point.
As with the whole of your CV or resume , your personal statement should be written in a simple clean font at around size 10-12 to ensure that it can be read easily by all recruiters and employers.
Keep the text colour simple , ensuring that it contrasts the background (black on white is best) and break it into 2 or even 3 paragraphs for a pleasant reading experience.
It should also be written in a punchy persuasive tone, to help you sell yourself and increase your chances of landing interviews , I cover how to do this in detail further down the guide.
Quick tip: A poorly written CV will fail to impress recruiters and employers. Use our CV builder to create a winning CV in minutes with professional CV templates and pre-written content for every industry.
Once you have the style and format of your personal statement perfected, you need to fill it with compelling content that tells recruiters that your CV is worth reading.
Here’s what needs to go into your personal statement…
Before you start writing your personal statement, it’s crucial that you research your target roles to find out exactly what your new potential employers are looking for in a candidate.
Run a search for your target jobs on one of the major job websites , look through plenty of adverts and make a list of the candidate requirements that frequently appear.
This research will show you exactly what to include in your personal statement in order to impress the recruiters who will be reading it.
Education and qualifications are an important aspect of your personal statement, especially if you are a junior candidate.
You should highlight your highest and most relevant qualifications, whether that is a degree, A levels or GCSEs. You could potentially go into some more detail around modules, papers etc. if they are relevant to the roles you are applying for.
It’s important that you discuss the experience you have gained in your personal statement, to give readers an idea of the work you are comfortable undertaking.
This can of course be direct employed work experience, but it doesn’t have to be.
You can also include:
- School/college Uni work placements
- Voluntary work
- Personal projects
As with all aspects of your CV , the content should be tailored to match the requirements of your target roles.
Whilst discussing your experience, you should touch upon skills used, industries worked in, types of companies worked for, and people you have worked with.
Where possible, try to show the impact your actions have made. E.g . A customer service agent helps to make sales for their employer.
Any industry-specific knowledge you have that will be useful to your new potential employers should be made prominent within your personal statement.
- Knowledge of financial regulations will be important for accountancy roles
- Knowledge of IT operating systems will be important for IT roles
- Knowledge of the national curriculum will be important for teachers
You should also include some information about the types of roles you are applying for, and why you are doing so. Try to show your interest and passion for the field you are hoping to enter, because employers want to hire people who have genuine motivation and drive in their work.
This is especially true if you don’t have much work experience, as you need something else to compensate for it.
CV personal statement mistakes
The things that you omit from your personal statement can be just as important as the things you include.
Try to keep the following out of your personal statement..
Any information that doesn’t fall into the requirements of your target roles can be cut out of your personal statement. For example, if you were a professional athlete 6 years ago, that’s great – but it won’t be relevant if you’re applying to advertising internships, so leave it out.
If you are describing yourself as a “ dynamic team player with high levels of motivation and enthusiasm” you aren’t doing yourself any favours.
These cliché terms are vastly overused and don’t provide readers with any factual details about you – so keep them to a minimum.
Stick to solid facts like education, skills , experience, achievements and knowledge.
If you really want to ensure that your personal statement makes a big impact, you need to write in a persuasive manner.
So, how do you so this?
Well, you need to brag a little – but not too much
It’s about selling yourself and appearing confident, without overstepping the mark and appearing arrogant.
For example, instead of writing.
“Marketing graduate with an interest in entering the digital field”
Be creative and excite the reader by livening the sentence up like this,
“Marketing graduate with highest exam results in class and a passion for embarking on a long and successful career within digital”
The second sentence is a much more interesting, makes the candidate appear more confident, throws in some achievements, and shows off a wider range of writing skills.
Quick tip: A poorly written CV will fail to impress recruiters and employers. Use our CV builder to create a winning CV in minutes with professional templates and pre-written content for every industry.
Your own personal statement will be totally unique to yourself, but by using the above guidelines you will be able to create one which shows recruiters everything they need.
Remember to keep the length between 10-20 lines and only include the most relevant information for your target roles.
You can also check our school leaver CV example , our best CV templates , or our library of example CVs from all industries.
Good luck with the job hunt!
A personal statement, also sometimes known as a professional statement or resume summary, is one of the most important documents you will write when applying to schools or jobs. An exceptional personal statement can increase your chances of admission or getting a job offer.
As you can see, self-motivation is all about where your drive comes from; if your motivation comes from within and pushes you to achieve for your own personal reasons, it can be considered self-motivation.
A personal motivation statement is a powerful tool that can help you achieve your goals. By setting out your reasons for pursuing a certain goal, and articulating the steps you plan to take to achieve it, you can clarity and focus your efforts. Here are five things to include in a personal motivation statement examples:
Use active voice: Active voice means using strong verbs that engage a reader and directly identify your accomplishments, which can make your personal statement more effective. Be unique: Your personal statement should be unique to you, so discuss what makes you different from other candidates.
Write your personal statement in a genuine tone that reflects who you are. There's no right or wrong tone - just make sure your tone represents YOU. This means, in particular, not using big words just to show off. Often, this just seems like you're trying to hard. (Or, even worse, you accidentally use the word incorrectly!) 3.
Make sure to respond to the prompt and include all the information you're asked for. A typical statement of purpose prompt looks like this: Example prompt from Berkeley. Please describe your aptitude and motivation for graduate study in your area of specialization, including your preparation for this field of study, your academic plans or ...
The Elements of Self-Motivation 1. Personal drive to achieve You could think of a personal drive to achieve as ambition, or perhaps personal empowerment. However, it is also worth thinking about it in terms of mindset. There are two types of mindset, fixed and growth.
Self-motivation is largely intrinsic since it relies on your own desires and personal rewards to keep you going. But self-motivation might mean that you create external factors to motivate yourself. For example, you could promise yourself that you can have a nice dinner when you finally finish your workweek.
10+ Motivation Statement Examples 1. Motivation Statement Template ccrf.uchicago.edu Details File Format PDF Size: 83 KB Download 2. Sample Motivation Statement enygo.esgo.org Details File Format PDF Size: 123 KB Download 3. Personal Motivation Statement Template accounseling.org Details File Format PDF Size: 61 KB Download 4.
The personal statement and motivation letter are vital pieces in your Bachelor's or Master's application. These documents fill in any gaps in information and allow you to showcase your most important personal values. Anything that cannot show up on your transcript or your CV can go in your motivation letter or personal statement.
A personal statement is a chance for admissions committees to get to know you: your goals and passions, what you'll bring to the program, and what you're hoping to get out of the program. You need to sell the admissions committee on what makes you a worthwhile applicant.
I am independent and self-sufficient. I can be whatever I want to be. I am not defined my by past; I am driven by my future. I use obstacles to motivate me to learn and grow. Today will be a productive day. I am intelligent and focused. I feel more grateful each day. I am getting healthier every day.
Four factors are necessary to build the strongest levels of self-motivation: Self-confidence and self-efficacy. Positive thinking, and positive thinking about the future. Focus and strong goals. A motivating environment. By working on all of these together, you should quickly improve your self-motivation.
A personal statement is a short essay of around 500-1,000 words, in which you tell a compelling story about who you are, what drives you, and why you're applying. To write a successful personal statement for a graduate school application , don't just summarize your experience; instead, craft a focused narrative in your own voice.
Motivate self-improvement . Make us feel connected to others (i.e. part of the team) Enhance motivation across time, beyond the duration of the gratitude practice . Induce a sense of wanting to give back . Improve physical and mental health, as well as sleep . There's more than one way to foster an attitude of gratitude.
Staying motivated requires courage and commitment. To learn how to be self-motivated, consider the following steps: 1. Focus on one goal. Instead of focusing on achieving many goals at a time, choose one area to focus on. This can help you simplify life, reduce pressure and increase your chances of achieving that main goal.
A personal statement is a short paragraph at the top of your CV which gives employers an overview of your education, skills and experience It's purpose is to capture the attention of busy recruiters and hiring managers when your CV is first opened - encouraging them to read the rest of it.
How to Write a Personal Statement Start by sharing details about yourself: Answer the question "who are you?". You can mention positive things about yourself like "highly experienced Digital Marketer" or "I recently graduated with a Masters in Foreign Diplomacy."