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As an adult learner, you need to practice self-leadership in order to be able to study purposefully on your own. Self-leadership refers to the leadership you exercise over yourself and requires certain skills, such as self-awareness, self-control, motivation, perseverance and self-compassion. The starting point is that you are responsible for your own activities and the progress of your studies.  


Motivation is the basis for self-leadership. It is good to know your own motivations, values and strengths in order to stay motivated. Studying is better when you are motivated, but you can also be motivated to study when you see progress and learn new things. Motivation is not a static thing that you have or don’t have but is a multifaceted inner drive that can vary in strength. Motivation can be divided into intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is your interests, curiosity and values, while extrinsic motivation is the rewards resulting from a certain behaviour, such as credits or a degree.   

External motivation is good for getting started with tasks or for getting easy and boring tasks done. Use your intrinsic motivation to get more advanced tasks done, such as tasks that require problem solving, analysing or writing. It is also important that the task you have to perform is clearly defined, that you know what is expected of you. Therefore, try to get the task at the right level of ambition with the right amount of challenge.  

Endurance and perseverance are required to complete studies and other tasks in life, as well as to overcome setbacks and obstacles on the way to long-term goals. Factors that indirectly influence the level of persistence are interest, training, goals and hope. 


Self-compassion is the ability to feel compassion for oneself. Many of us are more critical of ourselves than we are of others. Compassion consists of kindness to oneself, which means encouraging oneself. Compassion involves shared humanity, recognising that no one is complete, but that failure is part of life. Compassion is conscious presence, being able to deal with difficult emotions and avoiding over- or underestimating them. In studies or at work, we often feel that we need to excel and have no room to fail. Compassion is the opposite of perfectionism and prevents exhaustion. Our human dignity does not depend on our achievements. 

Please take part in Emmi Arponen’s lecture: “Self-compassion as a Support for Study Skills and Well-Being”.

Developing self-leadership and setting goals requires self-awareness. You need to know your own strengths, values and motivations. Self-control is also needed to lead yourself and achieve success. It is important to be able to control your own actions and think long-term when something feels difficult or boring at the moment. The perception of one’s own ability or self-efficacy is also important for success. A dynamic mindset again means that you believe that you can improve through practice and training, and that your own skills and abilities are affected by new knowledge and experience. 

Exercises on self-esteem:

Here you can find several different exercises: https://www.mielenterveystalo.fi/sv/egenvard/egenvardsprogrammet-problem-med-sjalvkanslan-och-identiteten/alla-ovningar-som-pdf (the webpages are in Swedish or Finnish, but you can translate them into English by using Google Translate).

Excercises on self-compassion: 

Thought about yourself: https://oivamieli.fi/sv/tankar_om_sjalv.php With the help of the exercise, you can learn to be more accepting of yourself.

A compassoinate hand: https://oivamieli.fi/sv/medkannande_hand.php The exercise helps you feel compassion for yourself.

The exercises on Oivamieli webpages develop your ability to feel good both in body and mind and they help you focus on important things in your life. You find more exercises on Oivamieli: https://oivamieli.fi/sv


Updated 18.12.2023