5 Ways Motivate Yourself When You’re Fighting Burnout

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about persistence since I’ve been reading lessons on The Four Agreements. I’ve written about The Gap and the ways it can hinder your progress (thank you for your emails, by the way – I’m so touched!). The fact is, we all struggle with the waves of energy that motivate us (and vice versa). No matter how ornately you schedule your work life, you may not always feel the same drive to get up in the morning – and get this: that’s absolutely fine and normal. Really! Not even the most efficient, creative, and successful people can ward off burnout or creative block. It happens. I’ve certainly dealt with my fair share of it, and today, I’m sharing a few ways that I’ve learned to push through.

The above quote is one that’s very near and dear to my heart. Winston Churchill wasn’t really one to mince words, was he? Whenever I was feeling stressed or unmotivated at school and afterward, my parents would repeat this line to me as a reminder that you can’t just quit when things get hard (sound familiar?). Rough patches don’t last forever, after all – sometimes, all you need is a little push to get you to the other side. Here are 5 ways to motivate yourself when you’re fighting burnout.

5 Ways Motivate Yourself When You’re Fighting Burnout

  1. Press pause – when you’re ambitious, it can be difficult to justify taking a break and letting yourself be for a moment. This, my friends, is the #1 reason why burnout happens: you go, go, go and work yourself into the ground, and your brain/body protest by serving you a nice period of creative block. It’s easy to think that progress is linear, but sometimes you can’t move forward without giving yourself a chance to step back and see where you’re going. If you’re feeling burnt out, try giving yourself a day or an afternoon off. Maybe even take a vacation (what’s a vacation?!?). Allow yourself to regain clarity on why it is you do what you do, and you might be surprised by how refreshed you feel.
  2. Call your mom – or an old friend, sibling, mentor, etc. Talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Maybe ask for advice, maybe just chat about something completely unrelated. Human interaction can do absolute wonders for your creative juices, and sometimes you need to get out of your own head for a quick second to get things moving again. Grab dinner with your old high school friend and relive the glory days – whatever and whoever you reach out to, try to take 5 minutes to talk about something other than work.
  3. Get some exercise – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone out on an angry run (a speciality of mine) and come back with a clear head and fresh perspective. If you’re feeling frustrated, take it out on the pavement (or on some free-weights, a punching bag, whatever). Fresh air and exercise is magic, and endorphins are a proven way to pick yourself up out of a rut.
  4. Meditate – sensing a theme? Give yourself some headspace and focus your energy internally. I recently made it a goal to meditate for 10 minutes per day, and even a few minutes at the start of my work day has made a huge difference in my wellbeing, particularly with regards to burnout and stress. By becoming more aware of the State of Your Brain, you can identify and prevent burnout proactively. It’s weird and kind of magical, and it works really well. Trust me – if you haven’t given meditation a shot, now’s the time.
  5. Play – when we’re feeling really stressed out, Sebastian and I will try to do something fun together that has no bearing on our work. Maybe we’ll settle in for a game of Stratego, play Assassin’s Creed or go see a silly movie. Finding some time for carefree amusement becomes increasingly difficult as we get busier, which is why it’s so important to find time for solid play every once in a while. Next time you feel like you’re running on vapors, find someone you’re close with and play Cards Against Humanity or your favorite childhood board game. Chances are, you’ll come back to work with clearer eyes.

I would love to hear some of the ways you push yourself through burnout. How do you find motivation when you’re overworked? Let me know in the comments!!