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Teen wants to know how to stay motivated

| Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hey, Cherie!

How do you stay motivated• That is the biggest problem in my life. I am a girl in 10th grade who does a lot of self-reflecting. That is, I think a lot about who I am, as well as my strengths and weaknesses. I know that I am a good friend and a good member of my family. I take care of my dog. I have good taste in music.

But I also know that I am a person who loses motivation quickly, for almost every single activity. I will give you some examples. At the beginning of the school year, I always try to buckle down, which is what my dad tells me to do. Two months in, I'm behind. I tried to lose weight, because I am about 20 pounds too heavy. I am good for a month, and then I slip back. I have started in the gym too many times to count; each time I stop after a month or so. I tried language lessons to learn French, but I didn't stick with it.

Do you have any advice• I know you wrote a lot of books, which means you have to finish them.

-- No Stick-to-it-tive-ness

Hey, No!

Welcome to the human race. I mean it. Think of all the things that 7 billion people could accomplish if we just stayed disciplined and focused. And realize all the activities we have not accomplished because we get off track. Then you can understand what's going on with you. Almost every person on the planet has your problem. The ones that don't are the big exceptions.

Yes, I finish books the way you can stick with some things, like your family and your dog. Others• Yikes. The best tip I recently heard had to do with body image, but I think it would carry over to almost anything else. Make a bet with a friend who will go to the gym with you. The person who is least successful after, say, three months has to give a serious sum of money to an organization that she hates. Political, social, whatever. If you are a Yankees fan, make the donation to a Red Sox fan club. A pacificist• The American Legion.

You get the idea. I've heard this really works, and I think it's worth a try. Groups of people form clubs to do this. If you use this idea, let me know how it turns out. No, I am not telling what organization I would donate money to if I fail to complete my next novel.

Hey, Cherie!

I have a difficult decision to make. I have been accepted into two colleges. One of them is close enough to drive by car, while the other is located on the other coast. And I also was accepted into a volunteer program in Central America to build houses for a year. I am an 18-year-old senior, and everyone is giving me advice about what to do. I am losing sleep over this. Do you have any ideas?

-- Stuck in the Middle

Hey, Stuck!

I do, but your mom and dad might not agree with me. I am obsessed these days with teens learning more languages. If you have the chance to go to a country where you will learn Spanish as a result of speaking it -- instead of sitting in a classroom where you might not be motivated -- go to Central America.

You easily can start college one year later, and your life will be changed as a result of the experience. Get your hands dirty. Learn Spanish. Have fun. Sounds great.

Write Cherie Bennett in care of Living, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, D.L. Clark Building, 503 Martindale St., Pittsburgh, PA 15212, or e-mail tribliving@tribweb.com .

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