One of the obstacles for someone working to try and improve to reach a goal is burnout. Burnout happens when you use up energy and motivation to make things happen but then slowly start having less and less energy and motivation to keep going.
Many times this happens to me when I am using high energy but seeing a lower return on the investment of my time and effort. I assume the harder I work the more I will get in return or the further along the journey I will get.
The biggest problem with burnout, for me, is that this often leads to a slowing or even a stop in effort. I stop being motivated to keep going and am likely to quit.
It could result in some sort of physical or mental ailment also. I might get stressed and have extra anxiety or I might start to get sick due to my immune system being weakened due to the stress.
In the past my response would simply be to push harder and try to keep going. I thought the burnout represented a weakness and I had to toughen up and push past the weakness.
But I’ve since separated not being strong enough from burnout. Burnout is more of a direct response to excessive effort with unrealistic expectation of gain.
Therefore when I find myself getting burnt out, I tend to slow down a little. I try to temper my efforts and expectations. Instead of trying to push through, which likely would just increase my expected outcome, I slow down slightly.
The good thing is that this usually calms down my nerves enough for me to get back to a healthy mindset and then keep going. It just becomes a slight slowdown on the path to improvement. It doesn’t result in getting injured or me quitting.
But this can be difficult because we tend to see the stakes picking up and assume this means we have to do more. So we push and push and push until we finally can’t push any longer.
But if we simply slow down, we can continue to move forward and improve. This improvement is incredibly important when we are going after long-term goals.
I’ve found many times that the biggest thing that stopped me from reaching a major goal, was that I burned out. If I had only kept going, even if at a slower pace, I would have probably gotten there.
But instead I pushed and pushed when I should have backed off slightly. I should have found ways to stop and think through the process to make sure I was continuing to do what I needed to do to keep the systems and habits going.
Next time you are approaching burnout, notice when your mind and body start to fatigue. When this happens see if you can slow the pace slightly to remove the increasing stress. If you can, you will likely find that you can keep going through the difficulties and slowdowns in growth enough to see the next improvement spike. But if you burnout now, you won’t be able to keep going long enough to experience the next major gain.