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Midterm motivation in the words of a creative genius, Steve Jobs

Posted by Xiong, Song - October 28, 2011 - Featured, Song X., Students

Congrats! You survived eight weeks of the semester which means you’ve made it half-way through!

My schedule has always been CRAZY but at midterm things always seem to get a little more chaotic. There are exams; I had three this week which I didn’t do so hot on. Then there are all the other things that make life a little more interesting like work, extracurricular activities and Halloween.

After Steve Job’s passing, I stumbled upon his commencement address at Stanford University that gave me motivation to stay headstrong through midterms. Below is part of his speech.

Sometimes life is gonna hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.

…I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going is that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love and this is as true for work as it is for your lovers. Your work is gonna fill a large part of your life and the only way to be satisfied is to do what you believe is great work and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it and like any great relationship, it just keeps getting better and better as the years roll on so keep looking, don’t settle.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like, ‘If you live each day like it was your last, some day you will most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me and since then for the past 33 years I’ve looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life because almost everything, all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment of failure, these things just all fall away in the face of death leaving only what is truly important. Remembering you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

I hope you find meaning in these words as I did. Good luck with your midterm exams and have a safe and fun Halloween!


Song Xiong is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point majoring in dietetics and communication.


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