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Last Updated on February 16, 2021

How to Find Motivation When You’re Totally Burnt Out

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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. I’d forgotten how to find motivation.

I felt trapped. I wondered how to stop feeling unmotivated when I was trying to be everything to everyone. In today’s non-stop society, this happens to many people, so if you’re feeling burnt out and exhausted, you’re not alone.

So how to find motivation when you’re burnt out?

When I think about my experience with burnout, 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.

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 (almost) to death. Hope is bleak. At 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.

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

This leads us to the first strategy for how to find 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 a passion, you need to remember your “why.”

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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.

Unsure what your true love is? Then this Fast Track Class – Activate Your Motivation can help you. It’s a free focused-session that will guide you to find your true passion so you know how to build a sustainable motivation engine in the long-run. Join the free session now!

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.

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 when learning how to find motivation. In the case of our hero Wesley, he had to defeat Prince Humperdink in order to rescue Buttercup. This singular mission helped him reserve his energy for the most critical moment, when he finally met Humperdink face-to-face.

In the case of your burnout, 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.

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To get the root cause of your burnout, 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?

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 burnout.

In fact, at Lifehack, you can take the Life Assessment for free and find out how well you are balancing different aspects of life. You can now take the assessment here.

One way to really figure out what’s wrong is to imagine what a 10 would be to you in each area you rank low. 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 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 That 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.

However, 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.

This isn’t a good way to learn how to find motivation 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 story. 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 burnout. 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.

I had to save myself. I had to do the work, and perhaps I was using my husband 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 it made me feel strong.

Can you relate? If so, spend time answering 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.

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.

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

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[1].

This is how you learn to achieve your goals after losing motivation.

Final Thoughts

Remember, burnout happens to all of us from time to time, and it’s during these times that we may need to learn how to find motivation again.

Sometimes, doing this requires making a huge life change, but other times, 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.

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

My thing was leaving my full time job, which, after months stressing about it, was accomplished in one 10-minute conversation with my manager.

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.

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More About Finding Motivation

Featured photo credit: Tania Mousinho via unsplash.com

Reference

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 September 3, 2021

6 Friday Motivation Tips to Help You Stay Motivated

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6 Friday Motivation Tips to Help You Stay Motivated

You know the feeling—that “I still have another whole work day to get through” feeling? It sucks. The worst part is knowing that you have to get up, get to work, and be productive when you feel checked out, unmotivated, and would rather go back to bed. The trickiest part about it is that even though you may know intellectually that you’re not the only person who has ever felt that way, at the moment, it can feel very lonely.

If you feel the Friday funk and want to shake it off, try these six tips to lift your Friday motivation.

1. Eat a Solid Breakfast and Plan to Eat Lunch

The first thing you can do to lift your Friday motivation is to eat a solid breakfast. We have all heard the phrase, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” It turns out that it wasn’t just something our parents were telling us to get us to eat before school. Studies have shown that eating breakfast can help with improved memory, recall, mood, and visual-motor functions.[1]

However, researchers have found evidence that the benefits of the micronutrient boost provided by breakfast do wear off after a while. Just like a car with a full tank of gas that runs out after a long journey, the body needs to be refueled. Therefore, planning to eat breakfast and lunch on a day when you are not feeling your best could give you that extra boost you need to get through the day. Skipping meals can lead to low blood sugar, which can leave you feeling weak and tired.[2] If you are already struggling with feeling motivated, not eating is only going to make you feel more sluggish and less inspired to get anything done.

2. Prioritize What’s Urgent

I have always been a fan of the cheat sheet. No, I’m not a cheater, but I love knowing what needs to be done. No one wants to waste any precious energy trying to figure out what should be done when you are already feeling unmotivated.

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No matter who you are, there is a high probability that by Friday, on any given week, you have at least one or two items that were supposed to be completed earlier in the week but just didn’t get done. Here is my quick trick for figuring out what’s urgent.

Just ask yourself these three questions:

  • Are there any projects with deadlines that have passed already but are still due?
  • Which of those projects is the most overdue?
  • Of the overdue projects, which will take the least time to make significant progress or complete?

This should help you to easily identify at least one task that you can spend time working on diligently, knowing that you are getting something important done.

3. Tackle the Low-Hanging Fruit

Another way to refresh your Friday motivation is to tackle the low-hanging fruit. There is nothing wrong with doing the easy stuff first. Maybe you are so burned out and the urgent tasks will take too much energy. There is nothing wrong with knocking out the obvious easy things. Emails, filing, data entry, document reconciliation, follow-up calls, editing or revising written work, and research are all low-hanging fruits—these are all straightforward tasks.

Getting these easier tasks done will give you a sense of accomplishment. You can leverage this sense of accomplishment to help you tackle some harder tasks or get all the easy tasks done so the following week, you can dedicate your time to the harder projects.

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4. Give Yourself at Least Two Scheduled Breaks

Give yourself at least two scheduled breaks during the workday. Life is stressful. Feeling like you have to work when you don’t feel up to it is stressful. Let’s not compound it by forcing yourself to sit in front of the computer all day with no breaks. The days of believing that “lunch is for punks and working 80 hours a week is what you should be doing” are fading away—if not already a distant memory for some.

In fact, scientists discovered that, although “taking short breaks throughout the working day may not have as obvious an impact as taking a holiday, research has found significant benefits. Studies have found that breaks can reduce or prevent stress, help to maintain performance throughout the day and reduce the need for a long recovery at the end of the day.”[3]

Before you sit down in front of your desk for the workday, set three alarms—two 20-minute breaks and one lunch break. You aren’t proving anything to anyone by forcing yourself to be miserable in front of your computer. You deserve flexibility and compassion. Let these breaks be a radical act of self-care.

5. Listen to Some Upbeat Tunes

Another way to improve your Friday motivation is to listen to some upbeat tunes. Music is medicine. It is not a mystery that the vibrations of sound can affect our mood. Ancient communities knew this and embraced it through practices like chanting, the use of singing bowls, chimes, bells, and other sound instruments as tools for healing. Practices like Kirtan and Bhakti yoga use chanting to heal and shift energy. The Hindu and Buddhist religions use bells and chimes in many of their spiritual healing rituals. Throughout the modern world, we have adopted the use of signing bowls for energetic healing.

Most people could recall at least one moment in their lives when music or sound has helped shift their mood. Music has been shown to have a direct effect on the listener. Studies show that listening to music while you work can lead to an “increase in both mood and quality of work”.[4]

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If you are feeling super unmotivated, the solution to your problem may be throwing on your favorite album in the background while you try to get a few things done. If you can’t work while listening to music with words and you do not like classical music or traditional jazz, explore genres like Trip hop, house, ambient, Beach House, JamBand. You may also enjoy artists like Bonobo, Thievery Corporation, and Grammatik.

6. Give Yourself Something to Look Forward To

As a yogi, I’m all about being present in the moment. But sometimes, the present is a little too intense, and being super present is not going to help to improve your mood. In those moments, tapping into the power of positive anticipation can be your secret weapon because “knowing that something good is coming your way pushes you to accomplish those tasks you may not necessarily want to do.”[5]

We all love to be rewarded, especially when we are doing something we don’t want to do. Giving yourself something to look forward to is the way to guarantee that you will be rewarded for the hard work of getting through the day.

The reward doesn’t have to be immense. It can be something small like getting ice cream, going for a walk, spending time with friends, or vegging out with your phone on do not disturb for a few hours. I used to employ this trick a lot when I was in boarding school. The time between semesters in new England would feel so long especially in the winter that my friends and I would let ourselves get excited about little things like drinking lime rickeys at Brigham’s. Believe it or not, it worked.

Try it the next time you get the hit with the Friday funk. Think about something you can look forward to no matter how small, and notice how it shifts your energy.

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Final Thoughts

As the adage says, “this too shall pass.”

Friday is just a day like every other day before it will end. One thing you can count on is that time waits for no one, so despite how difficult it may feel to get through, know that the time is on your side.

No matter what, Friday will wind on. The best thing you can do to improve your Friday motivation is to make sure that your body has the micronutrients it needs to power through the day, identify what’s urgent, tackle low hanging fruit, give yourself time away from the desk, throw on your favorite tunes, and think about the fact that you have the entire weekend to look forward to.

You got this!

More Tips on How to Improve Your Friday Motivation

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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