Staying motivated is no easy task in our culture. We are trapped by demands, responsibilities, commitments, and self-imposed ideals of success. Motivation is a desire or willingness to do, what we perceive to be, a worthwhile task. We do this task despite the anxiety that may come with it, despite the temptation to distraction, despite the sacrifice of pleasure in the present moment we press on.
Burnout makes motivation harder because we don’t have the optimal energy reserve to overcome the anxiety or distraction that hinders motivation. When we are burnt out we feel depleted and exhausted. It is difficult to summon the necessary energy to keep our attention on task. Our technology-infused world offers endless opportunities for distraction and burnout makes it harder to resist their appealing allure.
Sources of Burnout
Burnout is caused by chronic stress, a loss of interest in life activities, low energy, or feeling overwhelmed. Fundamental to all of these challenges is our finite and limited world. We only have 24 hours in a day and we must sleep and take care of ourselves during that time. That leaves 10 to 15 hours of time to be productive and motivated.
Limited Attention Spans
The human brain also has limits in how long it can stay focused. Highly trained brains can focus for up to two hours, yet the average attention span is less than 10 seconds in our modern world.
Staying motivated amidst burnout must first start with the acknowledgement and acceptance of life as it is framed in the previous paragraphs. It is at this point that questions can be asked on how to engage this reality, how to set boundaries, how to live a more intentional, informed life. And the most challenging task is making decisions about what to let go and how to surrender to a future that we all have limited control over.
We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. – Joseph Campbell
Therapy & Coaching
Working with a therapist or coach helps answer the questions that everyone must ask to live an intentional life. Yes there are behavioral strategies you can do to address the symptoms, but doing the deep work is the only path to sustainable, life-changing peace and acceptance to our limited lives. Out of this space once can remain motivated and even avoid burnout with a new way of looking at life.
Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions. – Pema Chodron