If you are wondering whether or not you are burned out...you are probably burned out. Whether it be work, school, sport, family, etc. Burnout tends to hit hard and can effect many and all aspects of our daily life.
Having recently come to a crossroads in my life I have been extremely nostalgic and looking back at the decisions and obstacles I have made and overcome to get to where I am today. One of the biggest obstacles I have faced in my scholarly, athletic, and professionals careers have been burnout. Looking back I had to sift through memories and had to separate between instances where I was just being slothful and had to suffer the consequences and between a real deal, burnt rubber, burnout.
The first and most impactful case of burnout that came to mind was when I was a sophomore studying and running at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, CA. I had consistently crammed 19+ units every semester in order to accomplish my goal of transferring in two years. On top of that I was training and lifting about 4-5 hours everyday, commuting to school, and raising my son who at the time was two years old. Needless to say I had a lot on my plate. However, It was only in Track & Field that I was feeling burned out. At the time my mindset was I was only doing Track because it was my free ticket to a four year institution. After excelling beyond my expectations academically and not seeing the results I wanted in my running regardless of the fact that I was the first one to arrive last one to leave everyday at practice, I was feeling to overwhelmed and was ready to quit and ride my academic success to a four year.
I'll never forget the day I went up to my jumps coach and told him all of this. We had a long and meaningful conversation and there is one question and one piece of advice I am willing to share from that conversation.
"Do you really want to quit?"
Call it hubris but I have always finished what I started. In addition, I loved my coaches, teammates, and competing. Regardless of how burned out I was feeling deep down I knew running was a passion. So my response to him was "no".
After establishing that, the next step was to find out how to transform these negative feelings into something positive. The following piece of advice has changed how I would approach similar situations throughout my life so far,
"Set a small goal".
My coach told me to pick a time, a height, a place, anything small that I wanted to achieve. Starting with practice and then moving onto meets, season bests, and then lifetime bests. Day by day I would set a small goal such, stick with this runner throughout the workout. As those were accomplished I would move onto bigger goals like come in first for each set that day. The goals got bigger bigger while maintaining the appearance of being reachable and maintainable.
So ask yourself, Is whatever you are feeling burned out about something you feel okay moving on from. For some of you the answer may be "yes". In which case, there is no shame. Certain things life in life take priority and only you can decide what is best for you and what deserves the most attention. If the answer is "no" I urge you to take my advice. Take a deep breathe and think about what you ultimately want to accomplish. Set an ultimate goal and then write out little do-able goals that will serve as the stepping stones to what you want to accomplish.
Burned out by work? Show up or stay 5-10 minutes later just to get a little extra done and make an impression, set a sales quota, propose a project that you've always wanted to implement, save up for a trip. School? Set a goal to answer at least one of the professors questions during class, ace the homework assignment, ace the quiz, the test, or maybe you're happy with a "C" either way start small work your way up. Trying to bulk up or slim down? Maybe on Monday's is a vegetarian day or a chicken and rice day, this week is lose or gain a pound, next week it is two, this month it is four or five, your ultimate goal is to lose twenty in four months it slowly all starts to feel more and more doable and less and less stressful.
It's a learning process and it may not ending up working out perfectly or as planned but the simpler you make everyday for yourself the easier it will be to accomplish all the amazing things you have planned for yourself.
Looking back now at only 23 years of age, at risk of sounding conceded, I can not believe everything I have accomplished thus far and still how much more I want to and have to achieve. Of course there were still days where I wanted to throw in the towel, pull out my hair, and bang my head against the wall (what's life without a little drama right?) but there were definitely a lot more days where I find myself giving myself a pat on the back and smiling to myself for achieving my little goal for the day and getting one step closer to the big one.
If you know in your heart that whatever is causing you to feel burned out is something you want to keep doing and something you can manage with small goals then stick with it my friend. I promise you will thank yourself in the end.