Learning and motivation: The art and science of self-study

Written by Jennifer Trenery on Monday June 25, 2018

Motivation is something of a troublesome beast. And I admit, there is always a feeling of discomfort when it comes to writing an article on motivation: there's so much inspirational content on the Internet at the moment that we’re practically drowning in trite quotations and self-appointed motivational figures who inhabit our social media feeds.

These motivational snippets have migrated to the offline world, with retailers taking the inspirational and motivational quotes from the Web and adorning them on homewares, t-shirts and bags as a feel-good hit for the summer.

It can feel like motivation overload. Faux-tivation, if you will.

When it comes to undertaking an online training course (perhaps one provided by International Compliance Training) the desire to pass is often overwhelming, but the motivation to do so can be harder to muster – and it’s going to take more than a vapid quote to conjure it up.  

Did you know that motivation and willpower are different things? And that serotonin levels can play havoc with your motivation levels?

 The science of being motivated is more than feeling; it’s a physical, neuroscientific effect. Knowing this, you can make sure that you are keeping motivated by taking a super-scientific approach to your studies and your work.

The science of motivation

 The desire to be motivated derives from serotonin, a powerful, all-important chemical and neurotransmitter in the human body. Serotonin is known to regulate mood, social behaviour and memory. This is where our motivation comes from, and forms part of this social behaviour. The key to keeping motivated is to increase serotonin levels, as a decrease can lead to a negative impact. Our physical output is essential for our mental health and enables us to keep going. Motivation is an oh-so-important part of our daily life. It’s why we do what we do.

Serotonin levels are impacted (both negatively and positively) by many different things: anxiety, impulsivity and learning amongst them. Learning can help you increase levels of serotonin as you are reaching goals, and goals elevate human potential to its highest levels.

In simple terms, motivation comes back to the cost versus benefit model. The cost is the hours put into study; the benefit is increased knowledge, a potential pay rise and the prospect of promotion.

If you’re looking at studying in the realms of the online world, you probably have clear idea of your motivation for doing so.

Now you know the nerdy-science stuff, here are some actionable tips to keep you motivated while you study with us.

Online studying and the art (and science of motivation)

We have covered the science of motivation and now it’s time to practice it. Studying through the online route comes with a raft of positive attributes which can be suited to those who are working full-time and need a flexible approach to their studies while they work. However, self-pacing and not having a physical cohort of like-minded peers can present small challenges.

Think about the outcome

One of the most significant motivating factors in any study journey – or indeed in anything that we pursue – is to focus on the outcome. What is it in particular that you want to achieve from your studies? While the goal of a pay rise and promotion is not an undesirable outcome, it’s important to consider personal growth as a factor for motivation. Motivation enhances your performance and boosts your marks in exams and assignments. But motivation needs to be a good balance between extrinsic and intrinsic motivational factors.

Financial reward, for example, is a motivational factor that is external to the individual – it’s the outcome of performing a task, a means to an end, if you will. Intrinsic motivation is that of personal growth and progression. What this means is that you engage better with your studies and the tasks because you derive pleasure from what you are doing. The result is that you are more motivated by participating in pleasurable activities and you receive the beneficial effects of motivation. (Bonus fact: this is what is known as flow psychology: a mental state of performing an action in which you fully engage with, in an energised way).

In short, being committed to the pursuit of knowledge is a huge factor in success when it comes to education and learning. The outcome shouldn’t just be about money; it should be about the growth of you as a professional and the knowledge that you can attain, too.

Look to social media

The willpower to continue with your studies when you’re holed away in a spare room-cum-office can be hard to find, but do realise that studying online means that you are not studying alone. Turn to social media not as a distraction but as a source of communication. If you’re struggling with your studies and need some guidance and help, or just some reassurance, head to the International Compliance Association Study Group over on LinkedIn. You’ll be able to chat with other students and members of the International Compliance Training team, who often share resources that aid your study journey.

If you’re not keen on using social media, why not team up with a study buddy? Find someone within your organisation who is also studying with whom you can team up. Collaboration is a great way to learn more about your chosen subject, but also empowers you to learn more.

Online resources

Much like this article, there is a wealth of material in the online world. An online training course means that you will have access to virtual classrooms, manuals and blog articles. You can chat about your course with your cohort in the online learning platform and maximise the digital world.

Takeaways to enhance your online learning experience

  • Make a schedule and stick to it – bear in mind your professional and personal commitments.

  • Have a designated study space. Find solace in your studies.

  • Remember the importance of setting goals and having something to work for. Personal goals can be the biggest motivator of all.

  • Utilise social media and online student support groups. Studying online does not mean studying alone, it means studying in a collaborative albeit different way.

  • Don't forget that your tutors are still accessible. You can reach out to your tutors on LinkedIn and through the learning platform.

  • Reward your hard work to avoid burnout. While you want to remain motivated, you don’t want to work so hard that you stop enjoying your course, or lose sight of why you are doing it in the first place.

  • Tell your employer that you are studying for your ICA qualification, they will undoubtedly want to support you as the course will be beneficial for both you and your firm.

Self-motivation in the online learning environment is a rewarding experience. You have the keys to your future in your hands; that should be motivation enough.

Further study tips and reading


Want to study with International Compliance Association? Take a look at our extensive qualification suite.


Please leave a comment

You can leave the name empty should you wish to remain Anonymous.

You are replying to post:



Email *

Comment *

Search posts

View posts by Author