Finding Self Motivation When You’re Facing Burnout
It happens to the best of us: You’re off to a great start with that dream project you always wanted to work on, but time passes and you find that it’s getting harder to stay focused. You start out inspired but then don’t feel motivated to finish what you started.
What Causes Us to Lose Motivation?
Sometimes, there are external factors, often beyond our control, that cause us to completely lose our motivation, such as:
- Sudden illness or frequent derailment from chronic conditions or disabilities
- Obligations like caring for children or parents
- Still needing a day job to fund your ventures
Fatigue and burnout are very real, and you simply may be pushing yourself past your limits. It doesn’t help that things like working until you literally drop are celebrated in society and success stories are splashed all over social media that make us feel guilty for not working on our own projects.
Then there are the internal factors, which might not be overcome very easily unless you change your attitude or figure out what’s causing you to feel this way, such as:
- Fear that your project will not turn out as great as you envisioned
- Feelings of impostor syndrome
- The ever-present feeling that you will never be done
All of these things create a vicious cycle that worsens with each turn. You feel bad for not getting anything done, but you’re also not getting anything done because you don’t think you’ll ever have enough time, money or the right headspace to see your project to the end. This is a bad feedback loop that needs to be broken!
So how to break that feedback loop?
Getting Motivated Again and Staying on Track
Sometimes the mere perception of a roadblock can wind up being a bigger deterrent than an actual problem you’re facing. One of the most common mental roadblocks that self-starters who are initially motivated often face when attempting to see things to the end is the feeling that there simply isn’t enough time or money to reach the finish line.
You may be facing real barriers with access to capital and need much more than you have to get where you need to go. This can make it seem daunting, but how will you reach Point Z if you’re not even attempting to get past Points A and B that may not actually require much upfront funding? How else will you prove you’re worthy of larger amounts of funding?
Then when it comes to your time, you may be facing constraints from a day job, living situations and caregiving obligations and long for that magical week when you don’t have to do any of these things and can work on your own project all day. But if you’re getting derailed from real-world problems taking place in real time, what’s stopping you from doing just 1 percent a day? There’s virtue in starting, or even keeping, things small. Saying “I’m going to dedicate a weekend to writing the next Great American Novel!” is more overwhelming and likely to set you up for failure than setting a goal like “I’m going to write 1,000 words today, whether it’s during my morning train ride or after the kids are in bed!”
There’s nothing wrong with setting ambitious goals, but if you’re consistently losing motivation, it’s a sign you need to adjust your goals to something more realistic for you alone. When you’re able to recognize your own limits and stop thinking in terms of the end result only, it makes you happier to hear about your peers’ success instead of depressed that your own goals aren’t materializing.
But when you do just 1 percent a day instead of waiting for a magical free week? It’s motivating to see you’re staying on track!