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Last Updated on February 16, 2021

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. 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.

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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Last Updated on April 9, 2021

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

It is hardly a secret that the key to successfully accomplishing one goal after another is learning how to stay motivated. There are, of course, tasks which successful people may not like at all, yet they find motivation to complete them because they recognize how each particular task at hand serves a greater goal.

It’s impossible to expect your motivation levels to remain at 100% all the time, but there are things you can do to maximize your stores of motivation and push forward. Here are 5 simple yet effective tips for staying motivated.

1. Find Your Good Reasons

Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it.

You may not be able to find good reasons to do some tasks at first, but if you take just a few moments to analyze them, you will easily spot something good. If you’re ever stuck with some tasks you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it, it’s time to find your good reasons.

For each goal you set, there needs to be a reason behind it. If you don’t nail down your “why” when you begin, your motivation will soon falter, leaving you miles from achieving your goal. This isn’t the way to learn how to become motivated.

Some ideas for what a good reason can be:

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  • Rewards: This may come in the form of money (a salary or a raise, for example) or some kind of award.
  • Personal Gain: You will learn something new or improve yourself in a certain way.
  • Accomplishment: Achieving a feeling of accomplishment and recognition for achieving a goal can be a huge motivating factor.
  • A Step Closer to Bigger Goals: Even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.

2. Make It Fun

When it comes to increasing motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have completely opposite feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, and others will love it[1].

Why do you think this happens? It’s simple: some of us find ways to make any task interesting and enjoyable when we begin to lose motivation.

Take sports for example. Visiting your local gym daily for a half-an-hour workout session sounds rather boring to some, yet others love being in that environment. For those that hate going to the gym, finding a team sport in their community may serve them best.

A simple approach is to start working on any task by asking yourself a few questions:

  • How can I enjoy this task?
  • What can I do to make this task fun for myself and others?
  • How can I make this task the best part of my day?

Expecting a task to be enjoyable is one way to learn how to stay motivated. Most tasks have a great potential of being enjoyable, so looking for ways to have fun while working is a great habit to acquire.

3. Change Your Approach and Don’t Give up

When something doesn’t feel right, it’s always a good time to take a moment and look for a different approach if you want to learn how to get motivation.

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You may be doing everything correctly and efficiently, but such an approach isn’t necessarily the most motivating one. Quite often, you can find a number of obvious tweaks to your current approach that will both change your experience and open up new possibilities.

That’s why saying “one way or another” is so common—if you really want to accomplish your goal, there is always a way; and most likely, there’s more than one way.

If a certain approach doesn’t work for you, find another one, and keep trying until you find the one that will both keep you motivated and get you the desired results.

If you can’t find the right approach, you may need to go back to motivation basics to find your motivation style. Check out Lifehack’s Free Assessment: What’s Your Motivation Style?

4. Recognize Your Progress

Everything you may be working on can be easily split into smaller parts and stages. For most big or long-term goals, it is quite natural to split the process of accomplishing them into smaller tasks and milestones. There are a few reasons behind doing this, and one of them is tracking your progress.

We track our progress automatically with most activities, but to stay motivated, you need to recognize your progress, not merely track it. Tracking is merely taking note of having reached a certain stage in your process. Recognizing is taking time to look at the bigger picture and realize where exactly you are and how much more you have left to do.

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For example, if you’re going to read a book, always start by going through the contents table. Getting familiar with chapter titles and memorizing their total number will make it easier for you to recognize your progress as you read. Confirming how many pages your book has before starting it is also a good idea.

Somehow, it is human nature to always want things to happen in short term or even at once. Even though we split complex tasks into simpler actions, we don’t quite feel the satisfaction until everything is done and the task is fully complete.

For many scenarios though, the task is so vast that such an approach will drain all the motivation out of you long before you have a chance to reach your goal. That’s why it is important to always take small steps and recognize the positive progress made. This is how to keep yourself motivated in the long-term.

5. Reward Yourself

Feeling down about doing something? Dread the idea of working on a particular task? Hate the whole idea of working?

Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables that will justify yourself getting rewarded. As soon as you get one of the agreed results, take time to reward yourself in some way. This creates external motivators to help you feel motivated in the long run.

For some tasks, just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes will do. For others, you may want to get a fresh cup of coffee and even treat yourself to dessert.

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For even bigger and more demanding tasks, reward yourself by doing something even more enjoyable, like going to see a movie, taking a trip to some place nice, or even buying yourself something.

The more you reward yourself for making progress, the more motivated you will feel about reaching new milestones.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have these five ways of staying motivated, it is a good moment to give you the key to them all: mix and match!

Pick one of the techniques, and apply it to your situation. If it doesn’t work, or if you simply want to get more motivated, try another technique right away. Mix different approaches, and match them to your task for the best results.

Finding good reasons to work on your task is bound to help you feel better, and identifying ways to make it fun will help you enjoy the task even more.

Learning how to stay motivated is as simple as finding what works for you. If you need a reward, schedule one. If you just need to find your “why”, take time for introspection. Do what you need to do and start tackling those goals.

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Featured photo credit: Lucas Lenzi via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Positivity Blog: How to Get the Boring Tasks Done

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