Finding Motivation to Learn in Absence of a Paycheck

Staying motivated in school can be tricky when you're not receiving a paycheck for all your hard work. Check out these tips on keeping your motivation up in the Career Step Medical Transcription course.
Most people find money to be a motivating factor. Likely it’s at least part of the reason you started pursuing a career in medical transcription. After all, if there was not the promise of a paycheck at the end of all your hard work, you’d probably be spending your time doing something other than straining to hear some whispering dictator who may have just swallowed the microphone—like knitting or reading a book or mastering the art of hula-hooping.

So what happens when the money isn’t coming in? What happens when you spend grueling hours at the computer working until even toothpicks couldn’t hold your eyes open, only to receive nothing but a pat on the back (which you’ll probably only get if you give it yourself)? Does your motivation to learn medical seem to disappear? Do you find you have to drag yourself to the computer like dead weight and then give in to every excuse not to work on your course—email, chat rooms, the most hilarious video on YouTube since, well, the last most hilarious video on YouTube? If so, know this: You are not alone! It is difficult to stay motivated in the absence of a paycheck. So what are some things that you can do to reignite that fire you had when you logged into the earlier stages of the course, back when you were determined to finish the course in 10 months, 12 tops (although before you hit that grammar section, of course)?

First, take some time to think about the reasons you chose medical transcription. Perhaps you’re a working mom who feels that childhood milestones are being missed, so you want to work from home in order to see your children more. Or maybe you have health difficulties and working from home would allow you to stay in your PJs on days when you don’t feel too well. Or maybe it’s the opposite—you have nothing holding you down except that 5-day-a-week 8-hour-a-day job, and if you had a more portable job then you could travel in your RV and see some sites. Whatever the case, there were reasons you decided that this was the path you wanted to go down. When we lack motivation, it’s often partly due to forgetting why we wanted to do something in the first place. You might find it helpful to write your reasons down on a sticky note and stick it to your computer, or get creative and make desktop wallpaper that states or pictures your reasons so you’re reminded of them every time you sit down at your computer.

Second, create a new game plan or, if possible, jump back into your old one where you left off. By now you’re aware of the obstacles that present themselves along the way to meeting your goal. Consider those obstacles when drawing up a new plan. Be realistic but don’t allow yourself more slack than you need. Your plan should be motivating by being built of small and attainable goals, not discouraging by being too difficult. If you work well with the reward system, promise yourself a special treat for reaching your goals. This is not an excuse to eat chocolate all day! Don’t give yourself something extra for every page you complete; the rewards will quickly lose their motivating factor and you’ll find yourself spending more time rewarding yourself than exerting yourself. At the end of each day, look at your plan of action to determine if you’re on track or off course. If necessary, adjust your plan/goals, but try to do this sparingly; instead, be in constant check of yourself, spending a little extra time to catch up if need be. Remember, once working, you’ll need to be self-disciplined, so now is a great time to develop that skill!

Third, remember that there’s strength in numbers. As mentioned at the outset, you are not alone, so don’t think that you have to do this on your own. Career Step provides access to student forums. Within those forums you’ll find threads (a string of communication between multiple participants) that have been formed by students for the purpose of encouraging each other and cheering each other on, which may be just what you need to get in the mood to tackle the course! You’ll also find threads on certain reports that will reassure you that it’s not just you and everyone has screamed or cried at a certain dictator at one time or another. Also, don’t forget the Career Step staff. We want you to become a successful medical transcriptionist and will assist you with that goal in any way we can.

Last, while you may not be getting paid cash dollars right now, you are getting something in return for your hard work beyond the actual education. If you choose to take advantage of these opportunities that the course provides, you will reap the rewards: building up your expander and using it enough that it becomes second nature; bookmarking favorite medical sites and learning the tricks of using Google and other search engines to their fullest; teaching your friends and family that even though you work from home it doesn’t mean that you’re any more able to deviate from your job than if you were at the office; figuring out how to balance a reasonable amount of work (preferably the same amount that you plan on working once employed) with the rest of your daily schedule, as well as noticing what schedule might work best for you once you’re ready for employment. While it may not seem obvious, all of these things mentioned will pay off … in cold, hard cash! Remember, MT work is based on production. Everything mentioned above can contribute to your production—working without distractions, researching and using transcription tools efficiently, balancing work with other activities, and so on. When it comes time to work, you’ll be able to hit the ground running (or at least at a good brisk walk) if you have already developed the skills and environment to stay motivated and be productive.

To sum it up, in the absence of a paycheck: (1) frequently think about why you need to complete the course, (2) create a plan, stick to it, and reward yourself for reaching goals, (3) find support because there’s strength in numbers, and (4) remember that, while you may not be receiving a paycheck at the moment, all of your hard work will pay off if you stay motivated!

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