You’ve probably heard term “burnout” before. Maybe you’ve even experienced it. The Association for Psychological Science (APS) defines “burnout syndrome” as “fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress.”
The APS categorizes burnout as coming from three different sources:
- Overload: the result of putting too much on your plate.
- Boredom: the result of not having enough on your plate, and therefore distancing yourself from your job and responsibilities.
- Being worn out: the result of giving up in the face of stress/lacking the motivation to cope with the stress and responsibilities.
Before examining how to stay motivated when feeling worn out, we must examine the different types of motivation.
There are two types of motivation – internal (or intrinsic) and external (or instrumental/extrinsic). For example, if you took music class as a child and chose to play violin, it was because you had the internal motivation to play this instrument. You most likely practiced violin because your parents gave you the external motivation to do so. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences conducted a 14 year study in which they tested the internal and external motivations of West Point Cadets. They determined that holding multiple forms of motivation can actually damage your internal motivation long term. Contrary to intuition (that the more forms of motivation you have the more motivated you will be), too many external motivations can make you feel less passionate and less internally motivated. Feeling less motivated will make you less equipped to handle your stresses at work, leading you to feel burnt out.
Sounds awful, right? We think so too. Here are some things you can do to help you avoid burnout, when you’re starting to feel that dip in motivation..
- Celebrate your victories. At the end of your day, write a list of 5 – 10 “victories” that you had today. Even if you’ve had an “off” day, write down your victories. Even if your victories were as simple as making your bed that morning or bringing a healthy lunch to work, write them down. Celebrating your victories can raise your self-esteem, and the positive reinforcement can help motivate you to do even more the next day!
- Visualize, and make a plan. What do you want? What makes you feel passionate? If money and time were no object, what would you do? Maybe you want to travel around the world on an extended vacation, or finally own that lake house. Maybe you want to start a family, or finally learn how to cook like a pro. Visualize what it would be like if you had what you really want. From here, you have two options – if your want is truly extreme (like wanting to fly in space), find a way to still accomplish your goals in a more realistic way (get a pilot’s license). If your want is manageable, figure out the steps to make it happen!. Having an action plan to accomplish something you feel passionate about can make you feel more motivated, which can carry over into more motivation at work.
- Make a to do list, and get something done on it right now. Make a checklist of all your to-dos. Organize the list by priority. Start from the top, and make your way down. The only exception – if your top priority item involves a lengthy time commitment, pick something that you can do slightly faster. The feeling of physically checking off something on your list can make you feel motivated to tackle the rest of it. If you’re a paper free kind of person, there are many free task manager apps/platforms that can help you organize your to-do lists for different areas of your life: work, home, fun.
Feeling overwhelmed sometimes is very probable. However avoiding burnout is in your control! Utilize the above tips to encourage your strong efforts and habits, achieve your large goals, and manage your daily tasks.
Another component that can really help you manage stress levels is to make sure you get your heart rate up each day. Already stressed for time and wondering when on earth you’ll fit in the gym? Not to fear – check out our 7 proven hacks for finally getting your body back in under 10 minutes a day (without a gym!)
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