“What’s the point in trying?”

From time to time, we get this question in the field.

And for a teen, who isn’t feeling particularly motivated by much at the moment, it can be a real challenge to see the forest through the trees. Without the experience of seeing that stories have new chapters, especially in the COVID era, why should I try so hard?

In this scenario, I usually turn it around with another question and ask, “Why did you wake up and brush your teeth this morning?”

Of course, the answer is they want to have good hygiene. And why is it important to have good hygiene? Because clean teeth enriches our lives.


Studies have shown that the two important factors to keeping our motivation high is achievement and praise for achievement. That’s it. When we can accomplish something (no matter how small) and are given praise for it, it motivates us to do it again.

It turns out external rewards work on the short run. When we feel stuck, we can use a carrot to get us going again. Over time, with enough achievement under our belt we can learn to create an internal narrative of, “I have done this before and I can do it again.”

Difficult for teens because they simply haven’t been alive long enough to have a history to look back on.