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How to Find Motivation When You’re Totally Burnt Out

How to Find Motivation When You’re Totally Burnt Out

I was weeping in bed for the third time that week and I’ve never been a crier. But eight months after having my daughter, and four months after going back to work, the motivation and energy I’d originally felt returning to my job had completely subsided and I’d hit a wall of fatigue and exhaustion of epic proportions.

As I sat there red faced and sobbing in my pajamas (a great look for me), my poor husband laid there staring at the wall, not sure what to say at this point. He’d already told me I should leave my job multiple times during previous crying sessions. But instead of feeling relieved by his blessing, it only made me feel guiltier and cry even more.

I could never quit, I thought to myself. What if he’d resent me for not bringing in income eventually? I was afraid of being perceived as lazy. Plus we live in an area of the country that pretty much requires dual incomes to live comfortably. How could I leave a steady paycheck and put that kind of pressure on him? Plus I had some people’s dream job! Why couldn’t I just be more grateful!

So I cried. Because I felt trapped. I wondered how to find motivation because I felt so tired but couldn’t not be a mom, or work, or keep showing up in my life. But I felt like I was failing at all of it and in that moment I just wanted to disappear.

Burnt out? You’re not alone.

Have you been there–so burnt out and exhausted that it’s hard to remember a time when you were bright eyed and optimistic, motivated to take on the world?

If you’re feeling unmotivated, tired and lost, and have still found your way to this article, I already know two things about you:

  • You’re more motivated than you think you are; and
  • You’re going to come out on top.

How do I know this? Because you’re burnt out enough to read an article about burn out but you still found the motivation to find it and read it. You’re actively taking action to stay motivated, which actually means you are motivated! Yay you!

Now that we’ve established you are motivated to get to a more energized place, let’s get down to the practical strategies I applied to pull myself out of my epic rut so you can start applying them to your own life ASAP.

How I find motivation with “The Princess Bride” Strategy

When I think about my experience with burn out, I can’t help but get a visual of when the hero Wesley is declared “mostly dead” in the classic 80’s movie The Princess Bride.[1]

(If you haven’t seen the Princess Bride, keep reading because it’s not critical to understanding the strategies. But, also, it’s a classic, please see the movie! Sounds like you could use a break anyway!)

In case you haven’t seen the movie, let’s set the scene: Our hero Wesley is flat on his back, seemingly lifeless with heavy limbs and no strength left in his body after being tortured to (almost) dead. Hope is bleak. It this point it seems impossible he has any fight left in him to take on his nemesis Prince Humperdink and rescue his lady love Buttercup.

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But with the remaining air in his lungs, he mutters two words: True love.

This leads us to the first strategy for finding motivation even when you’re completely burnt out:

1. Focus on your true love

Our hero Wesley had one thing that motivated all of his actions, Princess Buttercup: His true love.

If you really think about it, the same is true for you. Whether it’s an actual person (or people) or a passion, remember your WHY.

What is your reason for rising from this rut? Who or what was your motivation for reading this article? There’s something driving you to not stay stuck. There are some people who are counting on you or some mission that’s bigger than you that provide a clear purpose for everything you do.

All of your efforts should be focused on your true love and getting back to being the person who can show up for that noble cause.

Knowing your true love is your compass. Whenever you’re feeling lost or uninspired, remembering the people or passion that make you uniquely you gives you that sense of purpose that you need to feel motivated to rise, even when you feel like you have nothing left.

In my case, I had to eventually realize that my true love (my husband) wanted his true love back–not this sobbing, miserable zombie I’d become. Like the old adage goes, “Happy wife, happy life.”

As a bonus, you can find out more about this point here: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

When I realized that my complete lack of motivation and burn out was really affecting him, I knew it was time to get to the root of what was really wrong which leads us to step 2:

2. Identify your true adversary (and focus your limited energy there)

There’s always someone or something that has to be defeated in every hero’s journey. In the case of our hero Wesley, he had to defeat Prince Humperdink in order to rescue his true love Buttercup. This singular mission helped him reserve his energy for the most critical moment, when he finally met Humperdink face to face.

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In the case of your burn out, there is most likely a root cause that has to be addressed in order to reclaim your motivation. Getting clear on what that is will prevent you from running around trying to fix every aspect of your life and allow you to simply focus on the one or two things that are really the reason everything’s feeling so hard.

When you’re truly burnt out it’s likely that it’s negatively impacted multiple areas of your life so it may feel impossible to identify the root cause of your struggles at the moment. I know I felt that way.

My health was the worst it had ever been, my social life was bleak because I didn’t have the energy for fun or making plans, my career was stressing me out, being a new mom was hard… and so on.

Here’s my advice on how to get the root cause of your burn out: Do a gut check. What are the first 3 reasons that you think have caused you to burn out? What were the first things that popped into your mind? Write them down!

If you’re stuck, you can also rank each of the following categories of your life from 1-10 (10 being awesome, 1 being awful):

  • Career
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Money
  • Contribution
  • Personal Growth
  • Spiritual Life
  • Health
  • Romance
  • Fun

The aspects of your life with the lowest numbers should help you identify the true root cause of your burn out.

Ask yourself, why is that area a 1? One way to really figure out what’s wrong is to imagine what a 10 would be to you in that area. For example, if you rank your job a 2, what would a 10 be to you? Describe it in as much detail as possible and compare it to your current situation.

For example, maybe your 10 job would be remote but your current job forces you to commute and travel constantly. This has the potential to affect every area of your life but really, the solution to most of your woes is to get a job that lets you work from home and doesn’t require so much travel.

When you’re clear on what’s not working, you can start to see a way out, which leads us to step 3:

3. Remember you’re the hero

It would have been easy for Wesley to play the victim. After all, he literally was tortured to death and endured unimaginable pain in the Pit of Despair.

But instead of focusing on what had happened to him in the past, as soon as Wesley was brought back to life, he focused on what needed to be done in order to get his girl. He remembered he was the hero, despite how things may have felt or appeared in the moment.

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When we’re burnt out, it’s easy to want to play the blame game or feel victimized by our circumstances. I’ve been there.

The thing is that isn’t motivating because it prevents us from having any agency or creative point of view on our situation.

If anything is going to change in our life, we have to always remember that we’re the hero of our own stories. Despite what circumstances come at us, our responses are 100% our responsibility.

In my case, I knew the commute and stress from my job was one of the major sources of my burn out. I also knew something was wrong with my health but didn’t have any answers or solutions yet. What was clear was that the stress I was feeling wasn’t going to get any better if I kept doing what I was doing.

What I really wanted to do was leave my job and start my own business from home. But it felt too selfish. Even though my husband told me to leave my job, for some reason I still felt the obligation to make myself a living sacrifice for our family.

But one night after weeks of having to take naps in the mother’s room at work just to make it through the day, it dawned on me that I was the reason I was miserable.

I’d convinced myself that my husband didn’t mean what he said, that I had to stay at my job for him; but the truth was I had to give myself permission to make the changes I needed to make to be happier. He’d already done that! The only thing trapping me was… me.

I had to save myself. He couldn’t fix my health. He couldn’t resign for me. I had to do the work and perhaps I was using him as an excuse because in admitting I needed a break or help, in my mind I was admitting weakness.

I was afraid to be that vulnerable and to ask for and expect his complete love and support when I wasn’t “working for it”. I was more comfortable playing the victim of my circumstances and falling on my noble sword because somehow in my mind it made me feel strong.

Can you relate? If so, spend time to answer these questions:

  • If you’re honest with yourself, have you been playing the Hero or the Victim of your story?
  • Claiming your role of hero, what’s your next play?
  • What are you secretly wanting permission for that you need to grant yourself?

Once you take complete responsibility for your circumstances and for saving yourself, there’s another key thing you’ll need:

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4. Accept help from your friends

Our hero Wesley was “mostly dead” and unable to walk, feed himself or hold his head up when his friends Inigo and Fezzik found him. If it wasn’t for them, he would have died in the Pit of Despair. But they held him up, found Miracle Max, advocated for a remedy and carried him on their backs until he could stand on his own again.

My story is no different. In order to find my motivation again and recover from burn out it required me to rely on my husband more than I ever had before. It also required doctors, life coaches and the support of friends and family.

It required me to give up my attachment to being tough and not needing help. But at the end of the day, I figured out my happiness and being fully honest with myself about my limitations was the only way to have what I really wanted: Myself back.

Sometimes showing weakness is the ultimate show of strength.

You are the hero and you’re also human. None of us can do this on our own, nor are we supposed to. When you’re burnt out, it’s important to ask for help and seek out a support system while you find your way back to yourself.

Final thoughts

Remember, burn out happens to all of us from time to time and we just can’t get motivated.

Sometimes, finding your motivation again requires making a huge life change, as in my case. But sometimes, it can be fixed with a new habit as simple as shutting down your computer, putting your phone out of sight and giving yourself some down time.

My burn out was severe and it took overhauling my entire life to dig my way out. But I’m so much more motivated, re-energized and happier for it.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all of the responsibilities on your plate and with all of things you’re thinking you need to change, remember to focus on the ONE thing that’s going to make the biggest impact. You can do it too:

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

My thing was leaving my full time job. Which, after months stressing about it, was accomplished in one 10 minute conversation with my manager. And as soon as I did it I instantly felt more motivated and relieved.

Save your precious energy for only doing the things that truly matter right now and your motivation will start coming back sooner than you thought possible.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

[1] The Princess Bride, Reiner et al., 1987

More by this author

Kristina Voegele

Author and Success Coach | Founder of Grit & Grace Living | Creator of the Writerpreneur Workshop

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Published on November 20, 2019

14 Personal Goals for a Better You Next Year

14 Personal Goals for a Better You Next Year

Personal goal setting starts with having a destination in mind.

If you don’t know where you’re going, why bother moving forward? You’ll just get more lost or find yourself back where you started again.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, every road will take you there.”- Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland

You have to have a destination of who you want to become in order to get there.

Personal goals will be easier to make if you know where you want to go.

You must start with how to get there and break down the steps. These steps must be realistic.

That doesn’t mean you can’t dream big; in fact,

“Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you’ll still land among the stars.”

Dream big no matter what but be realistic at the same time. Be open to detours, too.

According to Action for Happiness[1], ways to make goals include deciding on goals, writing steps down, telling someone about it and plan out each step.

Here I will outline 14 personal goals that can help you become a better you:

1. Live Authentically

You don’t have time to be living your life as someone else. All you can do is be yourself. You must choose to be who you really are. That’s the best way to live.

Being yourself is not easy though. It requires dedication to your values and dreams. You won’t be able to be authentic without losing your fear of what others think of you.

There’s only one way to be successful in this life and it’s if you do it for the right reasons. It’s if you choose yourself. It’s not until you find that you will be free.

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Get inspired by my other article: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

2. Take Time for You in Self-Care Prioritization

Self-care is not something you should take for granted. Often, we don’t prioritize it well enough. Some examples include finding time for yourself, do things that make you feel good. Get dietary advice to eat healthy and exercise to improve your health.

Take a break. Go outside. Relax. Read a book or watch a good movie with someone you love. It’s about rewarding yourself with your joys and hobbies.

You can find more examples here: 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit

Self-care is not selfish. It’s important to find time for yourself so that you CAN give more of yourself to the areas of life you need to. You deserve it. You are worth it. Remember that.

3. Don’t Take Things Personally

The less you are concerned with others, the more you can focus on doing what matters most to you. What others say does not reflect the real you. It is just their perception, which may not be the full picture or the truth.

People who try to hurt you are not happy.

“Happy people don’t try to bring other people down.” – Anonymous.

That’s why it’s just not worth holding on to their words.

When you refuse to take things personally, it’s because you know who you are.

4: Decide What You Stand for

4. Decide to Be Who You Are Meant to Be

Look for things you are passionate about. Advocate to make yourself and others heard. Join groups that support your beliefs.

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”- Anonymous.

So, decide what you value and what you stand for. Then, you can do anything.

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Take a look at this guide if you aren’t sure what you’re passionate about: How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life

5. Find the Silver Lining

Find happiness in any situation by finding the silver lining. You can decide to be happy because of the good you find. You must choose to look at the good.

People often think about the bad first, and they dwell on it. It’s human nature, but if you can look for the good or the silver lining, you will be happier for it.

You can learn from any situation or use any situation to better yourself or humanity. Take that and you will overcome it all.

6. Do Something Good for Someone

Instead of just focusing on your problems, do good for someone. It will not only take your mind off what problems you have, but also help you see that you are capable of doing good — right, you still have things to offer.

There are many opportunities to do good. Volunteering, checking on a friend or family member, get involved in a project that serves your community, etc.

The more good you do, the better you will feel.

7. Practice Daily Positive Self Talk

Every day is a new day. The way you talk to yourself is how you can ensure you build resilience and endurance through any challenge.

Here are some positive self talk examples:

“Things may have not gone my way but I can see the good in the situation still.”

“At least I am alive. I have my health, my abilities and the opportunities to use what I have for good.”

“I am worthwhile.”

“I can do it.”

Even more here: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life

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The more you practice positive self talk, the more you will overcome and accomplish.

8. Surrender, When Necessary

When you surrender, you give in to the current rather than fight against it. It means you value inner peace most of all. You don’t sacrifice your inner peace for anything. You know your worth, and you are willing to see how a situation unfolds. You don’t try to force solutions either.

Instead of forcing solutions, you allow the best ones to come forth. You also know how to use what you have. You don’t fight against your situation. You instead use it.

When you surrender, you are accepting what is. This makes it easier to move forward.

9. Ask for Help in One Area of Your Life

We are often taught that needing help is a sign of weakness but it is actually a sign of strength. It’s developing skills that you might not be as well versed in. It’s developing mentor/mentee relationships to help you succeed.

Success is subjective to every individual. When you are developing yourself, you need others’ input. You need help to be who you are meant to be.

There is no shame in asking for help. Asking for help instead opens doors for you that you may not have been able to open yourself.

10. Never Stop Learning

Learning is meant to be lifelong. You can follow your interests, and everything is a “Internet Search Engine” away. But how to really commit to this? Take another class, sign up for a workshop, read books on the subject of interest, develop new hobbies…

In Success Magazine,[2] Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich suggests 3 techniques to never stop learning:

“1. Embrace the Mind of a Child.
2. Put yourself in the hands of a trusted teacher.
3. Read, read, read.” Overall, be responsible for your own growth in life.

You are never too old to learn something new. Start today.

11. Set Boundaries and Say No When Appropriate

Having boundaries can feel uncomfortable because we are telling others what we do not accept. It is also necessary for healthy relationships. You will use them to protect yourself, your heart and your mind.

No one can make you do anything. If you are uncomfortable with something, you have a right to say no. Those who truly care about you will not be offended. You are also setting the bar high, or setting an example for others who are too scared to have boundaries too.

You will make better choices if you have better boundaries: How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

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12. Follow Your Gut

Trust your instincts. They are trying to tell you what to trust in.

You may not want to do something but feel pressured to do it. Your gut is the one speaking to you, telling you not to do it if you don’t want to. It can save you from many things, for example preventing you from making poor choices.

When you follow your gut, you preserve your interests and secure yourself.

13. Do What You Love

Are you doing what you love? You must choose what you can’t live without. Don’t sacrifice that for anything. Life is too short.

Your best also comes out when you are doing what you love. You can give more, do more if you’re happy with what you are doing.

So, do what you love. Don’t question it: Why You Should Always Do What You Love (And How to Do It)

14. Appreciate What You Have

Good Deeds Day defines gratitude as,[3]

“Gratitude allows us to recognize good in our lives. Focusing and appreciating the good in our lives constantly reminds us about the great things all around us… Gratitude allows us to see that the sources of that good are usually close by. Practicing gratitude allows us to recognize those who bring goodness into our lives and humbles us in order to give credit to those we are grateful for.”

At the end of the day, you need to recognize what you do have rather than focusing on what you don’t have. You must choose gratitude as your attitude in order to live a happier, better life. You will win then.

Counting your blessings everyday will help you bring in more blessings. You are limitless. You will overcome more too if you have that positive perspective.

Appreciating what you have starts with the simple things in life. Recognize what’s working. Find your reason to hold on. And then change the world.

Here’re 32 Things You Should Be Grateful For if you need some reminders.

Final Thoughts

Goal setting is about finding what will better yourself and lead you to happiness. You will find peace with yourself when you are on the right path.

You have to make the decision to make the best of everything, and you have to remember what really matters. Your goals will shape you for the rest of your life.

Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Anika Huizinga via unsplash.com

Reference

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