How Do You Keep Yourself Motivated Once You're Out Of College?



I’m jessica. I graduated from a 3 year Game Development program this past April and I’ve found it hard to continue building my portfolio now that I’m out of school. I’ve tried giving myself deadlines on projects but it doesn’t have the same effect as it did in college. I also work over 40 hours a week at a job that is unrelated to game development and I find that drains a lot of my energy.

I really want to get my foot in the door of the game development industry but I know my portfolio needs some work before I can do that.

Does anyone have any tips or tricks to get yourself motivated to finish projects?



When I had a really big personal project to do, I made a calendar with a “to do” list for each day, so I knew in advance what I was going to work on. It helped motivate me to focus and complete it since I had something to follow (as well as knowing I would fall behind if I skipped a day).
Perhaps you can find some game community to contact, and participate in something to build your portfolio while also contributing to a project. That might be of use if you find that you work best in a group environment.


Find time to schedule some exercise and keep yourself healthy by eating well and sleep. Don’t try to burn the candle at both ends because you’ll really lose motivation then. Also do short daily blocks in the morning before work. It’s really hard to do any work at the end of the day. Also keep in mind that if you plan to have a family one day there will be no time for any extra projects. For me personally I had a few projects that I wanted to finish but now that I have a family there is barely any extra time for me to work on them. Good Luck!


How badly you want that game job? Why do you want it? Do you have anything else you would rather do, insteaad of sitting at your desk all day long, weeks and months? Maybe it’s not your nature? I mean, i dont want to demotivate you in any way, but the realty is that this industry is not suitable for lots of people who come in. Hopefully you realize, that this is something you really want to do and you just have to get your act together and do some serious work. Building a portfolio on your own can be a bitch, i know.
Maybe it’s possible to reduce your work load and get half time job? Maybe it’s possible to take a long unpaid vacation… like a month-or two?
I just quit my job, when i was building my portfolio. I was feeding from my inspiration, did some serious hours and i got there. Keep in touch with your college buddys and other like-minded people, attend to 3D vfx events, get inspired, don’t beat yourself up. Give things time to settle.

Btw, you can share your current portfolio, so people can give you some feedback and maybe you get some motivation or ideas from there. Or maybe it’s already good enough to start a career and you are beating yourself up with no reason. Have you applied to any game jobs?


A bit off subject but did you develop a portfolio while you were at school? Spend a little time applying to places while actively looking to improve your portfolio. You never know what some one is looking for. Also apply to smaller less known studios, you’ll likely have a better chance.

Back on topic, you just gotta make it a habit. Start off small, tomorrow come home from work and spend 5 minutes working on a small task for your project. Do that every day and then every week increase the time by 5 minutes. Soon it will just be your thing. The hard part is just starting after a long day. However if you tell your self I’ll do it for 5 minutes, then I’ll rest, it makes it so much easier. You’ll find alot of the times it just takes that will power to start and then you get focused on something and you check the time and a couple hours will go by.

Also it helps if you work on a project you are excited about. Do something that excites you so you can’t wait to get home and work on it.

Hope this helps and gives you a starting point good luck out there!


I also struggle with this. One thing that I can suggest is to check out Brandon Dayton’s series of videos on Youtube about working solo on his independent comic Green Monk. He delves pretty deeply into working solo and building routines to help you stay motivated.

I would also add that it may make sense to plan (like using google calendar or similar as a starting point) to go away from your normal living space when you have time off or long weekends. Set up intermediate goals and be flexible especially when you’re making progress but not as quickly as you’d like.

It’s pretty amazing how much you can get done after 2nd or 3rd time away from a lot of the distractions that weigh us all down with a good plan. I would also suggest considering developing content (if you’re a generalist) for an independent comic book, if you have an interest in doing something like that as it has a much lower cost of entry then other mediums as an independent and releasing work independently, even with only moderate success can motivate better then working in a complete vacuum. If you ever have some ideas you want to talk about problems inbox me. Sometimes bouncing around ideas with someone that’s working on similar stuff that no one in the “Real World” understands can be beneficial.


Thanks a lot for your thoughts here. I fear the near future. My next semester is a diploma semester and I don’t know how to keep motivated. Even now I’m not that good at it because I don’t write essays anymore. I order them from companies like this because I’m fed up with writing.


Starvation, poverty, and homelessness are excellent motivators. :stuck_out_tongue: Seriously. Even with a job, growth is everything. Your long term survival depends on staying vital, in touch with the tech and trends, and remaining interesting to your audience who may or may not be a future employer or client.

Slack and you stagnate. Stagnate and somebody else more interesting gets the job or assignment. Like I said, that empty fridge or stack of bills can motivate like nobody’s business. Studios generally don’t stick around forever and assignments eventually end. You, as a working artist, have to effectively be like a shark. Keep (it) moving or you die.

Honestly? There’s no surefire way to do that. However, keeping a journal of ideas or a sort of bucket list of dream projects helps. Getting through them? Incentivize, reward, and punish. In school there are consequences for failing to turn in assignments, rewards for success, and a reason (ie. diploma) to keep on going. Beyond that aforementioned general fear as motivator, establish a similar reward/failure system. It might be artificial, but it has been known to work in other endeavors where motivation and discipline necessary. Weight lifters and those trying to lose weight do that sort of thing. Couldn’t hurt.


Yes , guys! I think that the best motivation is sport ? Look keeps my motivated every day< seriously. Especially when I look at these strong sportive people)) Don’ t you agree?


It’s tough. This is totally normal though, just know that. I was extremely depressed after school, and it wasn’t until I decided to update my reel that I actually got my big break.

I’d say just pick a goal, start looking at tutorials/books and get back to it. Start posting your progress and getting feedback instead of going it all alone. It’s a tough industry to break into…

I have a series that you might be interested in. This video doesn’t quite get at what you are asking, but it will answer questions about if you want to keep at this. Do you actually mind if I use this question for next week’s video?

Good luck out there!


If you have a full time job, then you need rest. Thats not lack of motivation! My advice is try to get an internship as soon as possible, and apply for them at every available company…even if its outside of games. Also apply for indie projects which you can find online.

In the end, the team environment and project deadlines will give you enough motivation, so try to get into that environment first.


Seems nice. Thanks fr sharing your thoughts.


Take it from a former Cinematics Character working at a triple A studio (Netherrealm). It’s hard out there, the market of competition for jobs from when I was a character artist ten years ago is NOTHING compared to the oversaturation we see today. Don’t want to be a downer, but I’d go in business for yourself. My dad always said nobody ever became rich working for someone else. So I started my own business. It’s tough, and when you are in it’s great but hard work and hours are long. This is for the passion and not for the $.


I understand what you mean, I am a web developer, I graduated in computer science some years ago … as everyone looked for a job that would give me stability, but after a short time I realized that I was wasting my time because I was not doing anything I really wanted to do, but I needed the money, so I decided to start a small personal project, it was a fashion for downloads, so I put together two things that I like, cinema and programming, so Streaming started, but it was a project for more than 2 years, but it kept me mentally and emotionally motivated until I managed to get another job that I liked more and was able to devote more time to the project


Yes , guys! I think that the best motivation is sport ? We usually We often have yoga classes.


I’m feeling you.

Currently I do force myself to post something on my fake facebook account every week., even WIP stuff. This not only forces to plan out my week to finish such stuff (and get myself into a better time and energy management), but also getting myself into a routine wich greatly helps motivation.
On the other hand this did decrease the level of quality. So yeah 60% percent of what I’m outputting is not demo reel quality.

So I’m partly still figuring out it myself.


do it on your two days off. that is 16x2 =32 hours of time to work on your project, trying to be creative after a days work is not good.


keep yourself motivated is not an easy task because it requires to retrain and self-control but once you learn the art of keeping yourself motivated, you can achieve anything in life. Every successful leader has an abundance of motivation which compels them to strive and toil for attaining their aim in life. Therefore, you must keep yourself motivated to achieve great things in life.
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