Feeling the Burn(out)?

It’s becoming apparent it’s that time of year where our resolutions start to wane, even for the most fervent of self-motivators. I noticed last week that my yoga class wasn’t as jam-packed as it was at the beginning of the year (thankfully, to be honest) and I considered not going today until I thought better of it. I even considered not writing this blog, but here we are. 

Especially as things around us start to change, our commitments and responsibilities are not fixed and they will invariably change as life goes on and make it harder for us to keep those more daunting, yet good for us, healthy habits we all set on January 1st. Our interests change too and we can become bored with what was once novel ways to stay in shape or become healthier or increase our brain power. Regardless of how our mind or obligations wander and morph we need to stick true to what we committed ourselves to when we had our best selves in mind.

This applies to playing volleyball as well. We lose a match and come back to practice with renewed vigor and dedication to our improvement and determination to learn from our mistakes. But how long does that last? How far will that motivation carry before it starts to burn off and you resort to your old habits and mentality once again? It is cyclical and happens to everyone, however, I do believe that even through these natural cycles, if we get back on the wagon again and again and continue to strive for more knowledge and discipline in these areas we will get better at persevering through the lulls and distractions and boredom. 

The easiest way to stick to your guns when it comes to being your best self is to keep your priorities front and center and remind yourself of them often. I have a chalk board wall in my dining room where I often write motivational quotes to remind me of how I should be living and that help keep me on track. You can write messages on your bathroom mirror, put sticky notes on your fridge, or even set daily alarms on your phone to remind you during important times of why you believe it’s so important to take care of yourself or work towards accomplishing your goals. The more often you remind yourself of your true priorities the more natural it will become to simply defer to them when faced with tough choices and situations. I find a good tool to use to improve our choices when tasked with challenges in discipline is to image beforehand all the ways in which we will be tempted to fall off the wagon and constructive ways to get through these situations with success. Honoring our priorities will undoubtedly require sacrifice and we need to come to terms with those sacrifices before we are forced to make them. THIS will carry us FAR in keeping our commitments to ourselves and our dreams. 

Another huge tool to stay on track is to physically write things down. If you lose a match and are usually extremely motivated afterwards, take some time to write down how you feel in that moment. Or when you have any kind of “come to Jesus” moment and decided to make resolutions, record exactly what you’re feeling and why you are doing it so you can revisit it when your ambition starts to fade. I’m also a fan of checklists. Keep a checklist of things you need to do to be your best self as envisioned when you made these resolutions. Is it going to the gym three times a week? Is it reading one book a month? Is it meditating daily? Is it meal prepping every Sunday? Write them down.

Now, after you’ve done the aforementioned, the most impactful thing you can do for yourself is to buy a PAPER planner and physically write down your schedule for each day. Plan out everyday, down to the minute if necessary. Find time, beforehand, where you can squeeze in your workouts, mediation, or reading so that you can stay on track. I even schedule my showers and bed time.  Make sure you get your daily schedule down on paper and then plan your weeks and months in advance as well to best set yourself up for success. I swear my life took a sharp turn for the better once I discovered the power of the physical planner in college my junior year. I still depend on the one I use today and carry it with me EVERYWHERE, because plans always change and I know I need to work around the things that are really important and those are all written down in my planner. 

When we consistently schedule time for the activities and practices that are going to keep us on track we not only set ourselves up for success, but we also start creating a routine. ROUTINE is our best friend! Sometimes routine gets a bad wrap, as if it’s boring, but it is SO crucial to forming good habits! For me yoga has become my Sunday evening routine. I’ve wanted to consistently practice Bikram Yoga for it’s multitudes of health benefits, but I had a hard time carving out time consistently. I found a class I like on Sunday night and have scheduled it weekly. Everything else has to bend for this class. I make sure I’m ready mentally and physically to attend that class and it feels MUCH worse if I have to miss it because it’s something I do religiously now. Creating a routine frees up our mental space to take care of other things in life without burning out mentally on the things that are most important and that we really want to keep in our lives. Take out the discipline drain by making these things as routine as possible. The goal should to get to a point where we don’t have to think about doing what we know we should do to be our best selves and pursue our goals and dreams, we just do it.

If you have done all of the above and you still are feeling burnt out and have more excuses than reasons to get it done, I have one last resort.  When I KNOW what I need to do, I have previously made the decision to consistently do something for the betterment of myself, but it just seems too hard to make it happen, I use this trick that seems ridiculously simple, which is actually the key. If that couch is too comfy or you have the option to do something more enticing what you do is just MAKE THE DECISION according to your highest values. You’re supposed to go to the gym, but your friends are going out for happy hour ( and this next part is key-) WITHOUT THINKING, politely say no to your friends and go to the gym.  Don’t give yourself any other option. The more you think about it, the more you allow your inner selves to debate what you should do the more enticing the “fun” plans will become. Stop debating and go to the gym. It’s akin to ripping off a band-aid. There will be other opportunities to do fun things with your friends. It’s something that has served me well in my most unmotivated moments and, as with everything, the more I use it the more effective it gets. Give it a shot and let me know if it works as well for you!

Now go out there, revisit your resolutions, check in with your progress, and double down on your commitments to make yourself better, healthier, smarter, and achieve those goals!

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