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What keeps me motivated

Photo by: Arya Ziai

By Katherine Schilling

Staying motivated is probably one of the hardest things for a student to do while in court reporting school. The constant testing and failing (or simply “no-pass,” as we should think of it) can drain one’s enthusiasm for school. Before even discipline or hard work, motivation is the driving force that keeps you attending classes, reminds you of why you should sit through that extra dictation, and gives you reason to improve your writing. This is why motivation is one of the most important tools a student can hold onto to survive school. The question is, then, where can you find it?

“If something is possible for humans, believe that it is possible also for you.” – Marcus Aurelius

Whenever I entertain that terrible little thought: “Maybe I can’t do it,” I stop and look around at all those who have come before me and achieved the same thing that I am striving to do. I remember how every working reporter has gone through the very trials and tribulations that I have and usually with more hardships than myself before accomplishing it. All around me students with demanding family obligations, debilitating illnesses, and countless other hurdles attend class without complaint and get certified. These students are an inspiration and a testament that there is no excuse I could ever cook up that can’t be overcome.

“Take pride in how far you have come and have faith in how far you can go.” – Christian Larson

Despite our perfectionist streak, court reporting students tend to have awful short-term memory. It seems the minute one passes a test, he allows himself a maximum of five minutes to enjoy it before turning back to his machine and working towards that next test pass. Looking ahead is the way to go, but beginning a new speed often hits students’ motivation the hardest. Rather than bogging yourself down with trepidations about climbing the next mountain, look back to all the previous summits you’ve reached. Remember how 80 words a minute once seemed insurmountable? If you were able to pass all those levels to your present goal speed, then what’s to stop you now?

Take this a step further and think about all the other things you’ve accomplished in life that once seemed impossible. It may have been finally learning how to drive stick shift or surviving a particularly grueling academic class or even conquering your fear of public speaking. Draw strength from knowing all that you’ve accomplished so far to spur on your progress. It reinforces your confidence and security to know that you can tackle any obstacle.

“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.” – Ziad K. Abdelnour

If you’ve ever felt down on yourself, then you know how we can sometimes be our own worst enemies. We can sabotage our own progress with unchecked negativity and doubt. This is why sometimes we have to look outside ourselves for a source to reignite our emotional energy. One place this can be found is from those within the court reporting industry where there is no shortage of passionate and generous mentors. Motivational quotes from philosophers and successful businesspeople can be just as powerful and help you through your own obstacles. Marcus Aurelius has a way of reminding me not to sweat the small stuff. Steve Jobs’s Commencement speech to Stanford graduates in 2005 offers new nuggets of motivational gold every time I hear it. Keep your ears open to the savvy advice of those who share it and it can serve as a candle in the darkness.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

You can’t expect to wait until you’ve finished school to pat yourself on the back. In order to keep your motivation up, you need to find reasons to celebrate your accomplishments wherever you can get them. Whether you’ve passed a speed test or beat a personal best for a particular category, each and every accomplishment is a significant step in your progress and should be celebrated. It not only serves as a way to track your progress but reminds you that, “Yes, you can do this! Yes, you are worth it!”

I know of students who celebrate a test pass with a new piece of clothing to add to their professional wardrobe — talk about looking ahead! — or by taking a day off of school to revel in their recent victory. Myself, it’s sushi. I commemorate the passing of each test pass with a dinner out to my favorite sushi restaurant. It’s where I reflect on completing yet another small step in my journey, and it pushes me to keep going strong to pass that next test. After all, sushi awaits!

“People with goals succeed because they know where they are going.” – Earl Nightingale

Little rewards throughout school provide a regular pick-me-up, but long-sustaining sources of motivation are what lead to success. Certification is the ultimate carrot on a stick that we must keep in mind to keep us going — the knowledge of what awaits us once we’re out in the field. We’ve heard stories from working reporters about the excitement their job gives them, the flexible work hours … the pay! Whatever your reasons for starting school, don’t forget them. Keep your goals at the forefront of your mind and latch onto them whenever you feel your motivation faltering. Visualizing your end goal with as much detail as you can will solidify that goal into an inevitable reality. With that target in mind, you’ll be equipped with a long-burning fuel to guide you through to the end.

It’s never too early or too late to be mindful about what personally motivates you. When things get tough, you’ll have to draw on those sources for inspiration and energy to make it through. The tricky thing about motivation is that it’s so deeply entwined with one’s own goals that it’s not always a one-size-fits-all idea. While everyone draws motivation from different sources, hopefully some of the insight I provided in this article can spark a motivational force within you.


This article originally ran in the Deposition Reporters Association of California Student eNewsletter in January 2015. In August 2015, Katherine Schilling was a recipient of the NCRF Student Intern Scholarship.