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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

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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Last Updated on July 22, 2019

7 Things To Remember When You Feel Broken Inside

7 Things To Remember When You Feel Broken Inside

I have been broken many times in my life. I have had life deliver blows that have knocked me to the ground. The pain and the feelings of hopelessness and despair have consumed my life for many months. I wondered if I would ever survive this, or if I would live a life where I felt happy and safe. Slowly, over time, my life got better and I got stronger.

Now when I look back, I realize that these events, though they were painful at the time, were the catalysts for me to change my life. Now I am living my life doing what I love – writing, speaking and coaching.

For us to live our lives to the fullest, the only way we can achieve this is by overcoming the challenges that life throws at us. We have to experience the pain, the betrayal, the adversity, the feelings of hopelessness and the despair in life, because how else do we learn about who we are?

There is no other way for us to learn how to be resilient, courageous, hopeful and optimistic about life and our future.

Though we do not like it, everyone feels broken at some point in their life journey. Often when we find ourselves at this place of despair, we do not know what to do and so we can end up living our life through our fear, regret, pain, disillusionment and sadness. This is not the way our lives are meant to be lived.

When you are feeling broken inside, remember these 7 things as they will help you discover your courage and build your resilience so that you can step out and embrace the joy of living a life you love.

1. Remember to Accept and Anticipate Change

“It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”  — Dr Leon C. Megginson

In today’s world of constant change, it is hard to hold on to who you are and manage the complexity and unpredictability of life. The one constant thing in our lives today is change.

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Instead of fighting the inevitability of change, learn how to accept it. Embrace change and know that by doing this your life can only get better.

Resisting change will fuel the negative energy that keeps you feeling broken and discouraged about life.

2. Remember to Embrace Your Power Of Choice

“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.” — Kevyn Aucion

Using your power of choice will enable you to change your approach to life from one where you languish in pain to one where you flourish with joy and hope.

Using your power of choice empowers and strengthens your ability to take action and to make decisions.

Your power of choice is a gift that you have within you that if you choose to use, will transform your life.

3. Remember to Ask For Help

“Asking for help does not mean that we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.”  Anne Wilson Schaef

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. When we are feeling so broken inside, we want to hide away from the world. Sometimes, it is because we feel embarrassed, or we believe that people won’t understand what we are going through.

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The support, advice and encouragement from others helps us to overcome adversity and solve problems in our life.

It is the energy and wisdom from friends, family and supporters that fuels our courage and our desire to take action to change our lives for the better.

4. Remember to Be Present

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” — Mother Teresa

Your thoughts fuel how you feel about your life. When you feel broken in your life, it will be your negative thoughts that dictate your feelings of sadness, disillusionment and unhappiness. When you feel joy and happiness, your positive thoughts of hope and self belief will support more of these feelings.

The key to managing your negative thoughts is to practice trying to distance yourself from these thoughts and observe them rather than react automatically to them.

Identify those thoughts that will draw you in and create confusion and inertia within you. Accept that these thoughts do not serve you well and work towards having more control over them.

Label the type of thought you are having rather than paying attention to its content. Observe your thoughts and if you notice a thought that is judging (how good or bad the situation is), label it “judging”.

If you are criticizing yourself for doing something wrong, then label that thought “criticizing”. Then, ask yourself how long you want to spend criticizing and blaming yourself. My suggestion is that you spend zero time doing this activity.

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5. Remember to Focus on What Brings You Joy

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain” — Joseph Campbell

When you are feeling despair, frustration and hopelessness, it is easy to forget the good things that are happening in your life. In fact, if you are consumed by negativity, you will start to believe that there is nothing good in your life.

Focusing on what in your life is good and what brings you joy is an important step to you changing your life. The more you focus on the good in your life, the more hopeful you become.

Positivity and hope are contagious and the more you celebrate this, the better you will feel about your life.

6. Remember to Be Hopeful about Your Future

“The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time” — Abraham Lincoln

It is understandable that when you feel broken in life, you can become consumed by the concern that this is what your life will be like forever. It is very hard to be hopeful about the future when you feel so much pain and heartache. However, your pain and heartache will not heal you and deep down inside, you want to be healed – you just don’t know how.

For me, when I felt  broken in my life, the one thing that helped me on my journey of healing was to try and keep hopeful about my future. It was important for me to keep perspective on the fact that what was happening in my life at the time was not a part of my future life. That tiny bit of hope I had about my future was enough for me to slowly start to heal — step by step.

7. Remember to Accept That Life Is a Mystery

“The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved; it is a reality to be experienced” — Jacobus Johannes Leeuw

Life is a funny thing and the more we fight and resist it, the harder it is to live our life. Accepting and embracing the mystery of life allows us to heal and look at our pain as only one chapter of many chapters in our life.

Life throws us curve balls. It tests us and challenges us. We survive and thrive in life by embracing these challenges so that we can grow and live courageous and resilient lives.

When we feel broken inside, we need to remember that this is part of our journey and that there is no escaping the pain. We just have to work our way through the pain and despair.

Instead of fighting and questioning life and blaming yourself for how you feel, take a deep breath and remember that life is a mystery. Do not make the moments of despair and unhappiness in your life as foundations for how you will live your life forever.

Your role in life is to embrace it – the good the bad and the ugly and to live your life to its fullest – so go live it!

“Ester asked why people are sad. “That’s simple,” says the old man. “They are the prisoners of their personal history. Everyone believes that the main aim in life is to follow a plan. They never ask if that plan is theirs or if it was created by another person. They accumulate experiences, memories, things, other people’s ideas, and it is more than they can possibly cope with. And that is why they forget their dreams.”  – Paul Coelho, The Zahir.

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Featured photo credit: J’Waye Covington via unsplash.com

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