Burnout, procrastination & excuses shouldn’t limit your potential.
R&R… the dream of “rest” and “relaxation” after a looong year of slogging away at your job, juggling your family, social commitments, hobbies, finances, and the list is ongoing… This dream is somewhat fleeting.
When I started typing this, it was the last few days of December 2021. If you’re like me, things move pretty quickly. From one interaction to the next starting from 6am until at least 8pm every day. There’s very little down-time in between & if there is, it’s filled with training or a pop-up meeting or general work/life admin.
I’m committed to share some strategies that help me not lose my head, but before I do, here are the thoughts I struggle with in my head:
- “Maybe I’m not good enough to wear this hat…”
- “What will Person X think if I say this/that/the other?”
- “How am I going to pay all my bills at the end of this month?”
- “I really don’t have the time or energy to go to X/Y social event.”
- “Am I doing enough? It doesn’t feel like it.”
- “I don’t know how I’m going to get through all of this.”
- “I feel frustrated with where I’m at. I know I shouldn’t be, but I am.”
- “Was that a stupid question? I’m so dumb…”
- “I’m too young/old to do what they do or talk about what they’re talking about.”
- “If only I can get this loan things will get better.”
As human beings, we are burdened by emotion. Typically, we see this as a NEGATIVE thing in our lives, so what do we do? We SHUT THE DOOR. Shut the door to others & open the door to things like depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc.
Our worlds have been shaken on their heads for 2 years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the United States, an 18% increase in overdoses were seen within the first several months of the pandemic. Substance use was reported to have increased by 13%. Suicides are averaging over 700k deaths per year globally and people think mental health isn’t a problem to talk about?
Worse than that, there are limited resources allocated to adequate care within communities where simple programmatic interventions would suffice.
I’ve experienced what I call ‘Seasons of Depression’ & ‘Acute Anxiety’, as well as temporary bouts of Disruptive Impulse Control which is usually stress-related. There’s something called ‘Binge Eating Disorder’ which I don’t think I’ve had for more than one day at a time but I’ve experienced days where nothing satisfies the stomach (not due to training).
These experiences have been by no means permanent but they do bring a sense of understanding. I’m not sure how they tie-in with burnout, procrastination or excuses but during periods of burnout, I’ve experienced depression. Thankfully this hasn’t been recent.
In my experience with mental health challenges & having friends that have struggled with them, it usually feels better to NOT say anything. Lest we get told the truth or undermined by someone we love. It’s HARD to be criticized even when we know we need the guidance.
How good is “constructive criticism” for us when we don’t even know how to use the limited resources we have to build something from what was said/done to us?
All of these questions, thoughts & feelings can create a wasteland to the hopes & dreams we set for ourselves either at the start of a New Year or when we have a vision of a future we’d like to see come to fruition.
This leads to my first section. Did you know burnout has 3 components:
- Emotional Exhaustion (EE)
- Depersonalization (DP)
- Lack of a sense of Personal Accomplishment (PA)
An article written by Du Plessis, Visagie & Mji in 2014 discusses the prevalence of these factors amongst therapists working in private rehabilitation centers. Therein lies a discussion of each term & some risk factors that can lead to burnout. Check these out & drop a comment if this pertains to you! (Hopefully not so early in the year!)
I know I struggle with this. However, I’ve realized the more I train the better my tolerance for not burning-out is – this is purely anecdotal – but I believe getting the training DONE has helped me work on NOT procrastinating (see below) as much as I used to, which means most of the time I’m executing what I can do with the time I have to do it. This means when I’m resting, I’m resting; when I’m working, I’m working; so I’m being present most of the time to do what’s on the top of my list – LESS burnout!
Procrastination involves unnecessary and unwanted delay, be it decisional, implemental, or lack of timeliness (description from an article by Svartdal, Granmo, & Faerevaag in 2018). It’s further emphasized that a core characteristic of procrastination is the realization by the actor that one will be worse off because of the delay & can be considered as irrational behavior, of which I’m certainly guilty!
The rest of the article is really interesting how they did real-time experiments to see how people either chose procrastination or not. One of the experiments included students & employees at a Norwegian University either bringing their own lunch (ie. not procrastinators) versus buying lunch at the canteen (ie. procrastinators) – the result was that more people have a “later” dictum, which means they don’t demonstrate preparatory behavior but rather live their lives on impulse.
- Procrastinators: Don’t prepare grocery list > Don’t go grocery shopping (eg. R300 per week) > Don’t prepare food/drinks for the day > Spend money on food/drinks at the canteen (eg. R70 per meal – R350 per week)
- Non-Procrastinators: Prepare grocery list > Go grocery shopping (eg. R300 per week) > Prepare food/drink for the day > Don’t spend money on food/drinks at the canteen
Procrastinators are inclined to delay when an action possibility presents itself. A simple example is, if I receive a WhatsApp message, I’m inclined to wait until I have time to respond properly. The result is an accumulation of messages that I never get to. (Just so you know, it is being worked-on. A few years ago I think I was at 150+… nowadays its at 30-50 depending on how crazy the day is.)
No one is perfect & we all get distracted by various things throughout the day but it’s critical to be mindful of these distractions. Whether they are helpful or harmful to us achieving our goals set. Not for next week but for 3 months’ time or 6 months’ time.
There’s just something about being accountable. We can always blame any of the below for the problems in our lives (but I’ve included some thoughts next to those to squash them as excuses):
- The Government – they don’t force you to decide how you spend your time or money
- Family/Friends – if they keep asking you for help & you don’t have the resources/energy, maybe the best answer is “No”… at least for now
- Traffic – maybe organizing your day so you can leave before/after the traffic is a possibility to consider
- Interest Rates – sometimes we shouldn’t take out that loan that will make all the bad stuff go away, whatever the terms are, we signed an agreement to them at the start
I can continue with this list but as you can see, the counter-arguments are simply reality-checks. We need to be accountable for whether we have or have not done stuff. This always sucks when you’re on the NOT side of the equation. The best you can do from there is change the NOT to a DONE!
It’s bizarre to me that we have been given the ability to imagine something we’ve never experienced so vividly in our minds BUT because of what other people believe/think/say, we get dissuaded & deflated into inaction. I’ve seen this with myself week in & week out.
Sometimes I want to get started with a new project, I’m all excited & then… someone says “I don’t think you have the time.” Then the mind drifts, excitement dies & reality sets in.
We all have to deal with disappointment in life & our minds are involved in it all. Just this week I was on a roll with my time-trials, then I started my 10km Run Time-Trial on Wednesday aaand BOOM!
After 6km of desert-heat & feeling as if either my lungs or heart was going to explode, I had to stop. Catch my breath. Walk. Jog. Struggle another 3-odd kilometers home. The entire time I felt beaten.
By what you may ask? Myself. I could have paced it better. I should have planned to do it earlier. I was supposed to plan a better route. I should. Could. Maybe. Might have. But I didn’t do any better than I’d hoped.
So guess what, no excuses. I’m going for a well-strategized 10km Time-Trial on Sunday (during my long-run) & this time will be better!
In triathlon, it is critical to pay attention to yourself, those around you & your environment. The same is true with life. If you get distracted, you’ll hit your head & scrape your hand open (true story). The process of managing the pain of distraction SUCKS but surely the benefit thereof is that the mind won’t be so quick to wander & we can get closer to our potential despite the mental challenges we face on a daily basis.
On Sunday, 20 February 2022, I’ll be doing a Virtual Everesting Challenge – climbing the elevation of Mount Everest in a single cycling ‘event’. If you’re keen to participate &/ pledge a donation, please click >>HERE!
Be safe out there!
If you need or know someone in need of assistance with mental health, please email email@example.com so they can point you in the right direction!