Here are quotations and illustrations, with brief explanations where required, to motivate students for fourteen difficult situations (facing an important exam, procrastination, resisting peer pressure, addiction to social media, worry, lacking talent, and so on) they commonly face.

1. “I’ve to face an important exam.”

Preparation phase

When you’re stuck on something, when you get frustrated, when progress is hard, then remind yourself:motivation quote - exams and study

You aren’t the only one who is stuck, who is frustrated, who is not making progress. Many others are in the same boat.

Those who can find a way, despite these disappointments, will leave their peers far behind.

Few hours before the exam

Matthew Syed in his book Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success describes (in the context of choking in sports) the moments just before the opening race of 500-metre speed skating at 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City:

Some of the athletes are pacing around, steely-eyed, others sitting down and shaking their hands and feet; still others are in earnest conversation with their coaches, rehearsing their tactics and strategy one last time. The roar of the crowd through the curtains is an ever-present reminder that their moment of truth is approaching.

But one competitor is not engaged in any of the familiar last-minute activities. Sarah Lindsay, a twenty-one-year-old British skater, is sitting, breathing slowly, her eyes staring forward – and all the while she is saying something audibly to herself. ‘It’s only speed skating!’ she says. ‘It’s only speed skating!’ ‘It’s only bloody speed skating!’

Sarah could keep pressure at bay this way, and performed at a level above than what her ranking would suggest.

So, taking a cue from her, minutes before taking the hot seat at the test center, say to yourself:motivation quote - exams and study

And if you keep working hard and keep learning from your mistakes, you’ll eventually achieve your goals even if you fail in one or more test.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, the renowned American astrophysicist, emphasizes the same point in his commencement speech at University of Massachusetts Amherst:motivation quote - exams and study

2. “I often fall prey to procrastination.”

Things will only worsen if you wait longer. If you can’t avoid the task, then act now.motivation quote - procrastination

motivation quote - procrastinationStop day-dreaming if you aren’t ticking off important tasks from your to-do list. If things don’t get done, you don’t achieve anything – big or small. That’s the bottom-line.

motivation quote - procrastinationOften times, you don’t know where to start especially when it’s a complex, overwhelming task. What you can do in such cases is to divide the task into small, manageable subtasks, and start from one of them.

You’ve to make a beginning.

3. “I can’t get away from social media/ phone.”

In U.S., teens (13- to 18-year-olds) spend more than six and a half hours every day consuming media on screens (laptops, smartphones, and tablets), and tweens (8- to 12-year-olds), more than four and a half hours.motivation quote - avoiding distractions, social media, and procrastination

Everyone, including you, has only 24 hours in a day, and it’s entirely up to you where you spend these. Don’t complain if you habitually struggle to meet deadlines or deliver low-quality output.motivation quote - avoiding distractions, social media, and procrastination

4. “I can’t resist peer pressure.”

motivation quote - resisting peer pressureYou can.

Before joining the bandwagon, you need to also weigh what’s good for you in the medium to long term.

5. “I don’t like studying, or training for my goal.”

motivation quote - I don't like studying or working hardThere is no escaping discomfort when you set out on something new or meaningful.

Not just you, everyone goes through it!

But those who succeed, work on their goals despite the discomfort. That’s the big difference, and in most cases, the only.

6. “I can never be like my classmates because they’re more talented than me.”

Michael Jordan was a creature of unimaginable work ethic.

Will Smith worked on his craft harder than any of his peers.

So did Mozart and Charles Darwin.

And world considers them to be exceptionally talented!

Studies have shown that grit and deliberate practice (form of practice in which you push yourself just beyond your current skill level and seek feedback on mistakes made) are far more important than talent to become expert in any field.

So, it doesn’t matter if your illustrious peers are more talented than you. You can surpass them …

Here are few quotes from the experts themselves.

(Chuck Yeager became the first pilot to travel faster than sound in 1947. Here is quoted from The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe.)motivation quote - you're as good as the best

motivation quote - you're as good as the bestmotivation quote - you're as good as the bestmotivation quote - you're as good as the bestmotivation quote - you're as good as the best(Angela Duckworth is professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and an eminent researcher on grit.)

Your peer may seem more natural than you in, say, math, but you can be better than her/ him if you work hard and seek improvements consistently over a period of time.

7. “I’m caught in a rut. I can’t change my life.”

Only thing is you need to want it bad enough.quote - change your life

quote - change your lifeBoth Denis Waitley and Tony Robbins say the same thing. Your past is water under the bridge; it’s gone. Whereas tomorrow is like a new wave building in the ocean. You can change things starting the very next moment.

quote - change your lifeOne opportunity goes, another comes. But, we rue the lost opportunity for so long that we fail to notice the new. You need to quickly get over the one that is gone, and brace yourself up for the new waves building up in the ocean.

quote - change your lifeYes, at the beginning of his career, he lagged the top players. But, with change in mindset and work ethics, he reached where he is.

Your belief, your mindset is critical in making the change happen, and it can be flipped in a moment.

8. “I just failed on a big occasion, I let everybody down.”

quote - big failure and disappointmentIf you try anything worthwhile, you’ll fail many times. Everyone does.

Key is to learn from those mistakes, and not repeat them.

9. “I get nervous on the big stage.”

quote - get nervous on big stageYes, people can’t tell the difference if you’re really confident or you’re acting confident when making that stage performance.

quote - get nervous on big stageThere is no other way to subdue your fear: embrace it. And once you embrace it, you’ll realize that the challenge wasn’t as bad as you thought.

However, first perform the challenge at a smaller scale and gradually increase your confidence before you move to the biggest stage. For example, if you’ve to make a speech to an audience of 500, start with a speech to five of your friends, then twenty-odd strangers, and so on.

10. “I worry a lot.”

quote - worryWhat is worry?

It’s only your imagination or expectation that certain things may go wrong in future, right.

Imagination or expectation, and no rationale!

And if it’s only your imagination, then why can’t you kill it?

In reality, you suffer much more from your worries than when they actually come true. They drain your limited energy and will power that you’ve for the day, and reduce your productivity.

quote - worryTo quote Robin Sharma, the author of the best seller The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, on worry-fact-finding exercise of a business executive who participated in his leadership coaching program:

… 54 percent of his worries related to things that would likely never happen; 26 percent were about past actions that could not be changed; 8 percent related to the opinions of people whose opinions really did not matter to him; 4 percent concerned personal health issues that he had since resolved; and only 6 percent concerned real issues worthy of his attention.

I agree with the lopsided proportion of worries that are worth worrying about. I’ve noted down my worries over more than a year and found that very few of them actually came true. Run this exercise yourself, and you’ll realize how much mental energy you’re wasting.

11. “I fear pursuing big goals because I can’t possibly achieve them.”quote - big goals

If you feel embarrassed when asking for something, if you think you’ll look stupid if you pursue a difficult goal, and if you think you’ll reach your goals somehow, then you’re making sure that your goals will remain unfulfilled.

You need to pursue them. You need to hustle. You need to take proactive steps. You need to forget what others think. You need to have hide, not skin.quote - big goals

Too many lead small lives, because they think their abilities don’t match up to big goals. These limiting beliefs are precisely the reason why you would never pursue, let alone achieve them. And if you don’t pursue your significant goals, then you die much before your biological death.

And here is the logical reason why you should pursue big goals.quote - big goals

Most shy away from audacious goals, because they believe that they aren’t capable of accomplishing them, that only ‘certain category’ of people can achieve them.

But, we often underestimate what we are capable of.

Also, a big goal will motivate you much more than the ordinary.

How many of you would be motivated to raise money for a weekend trip to a holiday resort 200 miles from your town? And how many to see the awe-inspiring Icelandic landscape (assuming you don’t live in Iceland)?

Won’t you work harder for the second goal? It’s bigger. It’s much more motivating.

12. “I plan a lot, but I don’t act.”

quote - plan a lot, but don't actquote - plan a lot, but don't actquote - plan a lot, but don't actIf the plan is big, start small. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Disney they all started in a garage. Facebook started with only bunch of students at Harvard University as its users.

Identify one step that you can take today, and do it.

13. “I’m rarely happy.”

quote on happinessChange perspective if you want to be happy. Even billionaires and the most powerful are unhappy.

14. “Luck doesn’t seem to favor me.”

quote on luck


quote on luckWorking hard, taking chances do make you lucky as Richard Wiseman, Professor of Psychology at University of Hertfordshire, UK, has shown though his research on the subject. In his book, The Luck Factor: The Scientific Study of the Lucky Mind, he mentions four basic principles lucky people follow to get lucky:how to get lucky

So, if you aren’t lucky, then you’re probably not working hard enough.


If I’ve to conclude the entire post by a quote, then it’ll be this:motivation quote - winners show up

It sums up why few succeed, and majority don’t.

Question: What’s your favorite quote?