Last week was the week I failed. At everything. I didn’t make it to the gym. I hardly wrote. I went through the motions at work. I woke up late every morning. I ate like crap. I fell asleep before eight each night. I barely spoke to my friends. I watched way too many crime videos on Youtube. I remember waking up yesterday thinking to I was definitely failing at this ‘productive 2019 thing’ but then I stopped myself before I popped the champagne to my own pity party. The book isn’t complete (as I hoped it would be by now) but I am still moving faster than I ever have before. Returning to the gym this week might be a shock to my body but my fitness level is definitely better than it has been in months! It is sometimes easy to focus on all the things that are not going right instead of just how many positive things have been accomplished. Of course last week wasn’t the first bad week I have had. I have had late blogs before. Albeit, the last blog wasn’t late but completely missed. However, this week made me feel disappointed and frustrated with myself in ways I haven’t felt before. All the other times there have been competing responsibilities pushing my goal chasing to the back burner. Last week, had nothing to do with competing responsibilities. I just had no motivation. And, well apparently my discipline was on zero. I felt like I was going against every, single tip I’ve blogged about.
Yesterday, I realized I could spend the next week getting down on myself - feeling guilty, feeling frustrated or I could just look my failure and see what lessons could be learned.
My biggest mistake, I realized, was failing to recognize and give respect to the signs of burnout.
I cannot stress the importance of this. If I were to look back on the the past several days before the start of last week, I would admit that there were glaring signs that I was becoming not only exhausted but a bit over my routine. I was pushing through with ‘discipline’ but nothing was sparking joy in me (and if you chuckled at that - how is your cleaning going?). At that stage, I had one of two choices. I could sit back and think about ways to return to that joy or I could keep being disciplined, trudge through and hope the spark would reignite. I chose the latter. It was the wrong choice. Discipline, though required, isn’t a cure all. I previously wrote on recognizing when you might need to adjust your routine but burnout is a completely different kettle of fish. When you burn out it doesn’t matter if circumstances are ideal. It does not matter how disciplined you are. Last week I had no court work for the entire week. It was meant to be the easiest time for me to meet all my goals but I ended up getting less done when I had more time to do all the stuff. Trudging through is not always the best option. Sometimes the wisest, most productive thing you can do is give yourself permission to take a break.
I will repeat that: give yourself permission to take a break. I once read nothing in nature blooms all year round and neither will human beings. Or, for those who are religious, Ecclesiastes advises that there is a season for everything.
The permission bit is key! If you don’t give yourself that permission you will be racked with the entire time. In case you are wondering, this is exactly what happened to me last week. I got nothing done but it didn’t actually help my burnout because I felt guilty about it the entire time. There is nothing more exhausting than a guilty conscience!
The thing about resting is you don’t have to take an entire week in order to get yourself back on track. You will be amazed what a full day of genuine, authentic rest can give to you. For me it was only a night. Last night I went out with friends after an extended work day and treated myself to a few cocktails and a nice meal. It did more for me than the past week did. I am now ready to approach my goals with the kind of enthusiastic readiness I had at the start of the year.
So, remember that everything needs rest sometimes. Even with exercise, it is recommended you give your muscles time to recover. So too with life and the pursuit of your goals. As I have said many times and I know I will continue saying - this year the most important thing will be honesty and reflection. If you are able to acknowledge, truthfully, that you are burning out (and it isn’t just you being undisciplined) take some time out and care for yourself - get back to the place where your activities spark joy. You will thank yourself. Sometimes all you need in life is some relaxation and a shift in perspective to come back strong.
We are now rounding out our second month. Is it just me or did February fly by? On Thursday I plan to do a full reflection on how this month went - compare my progress to January and track my way forward to March! How about you? Are you still awake? Are you getting drowsy? How are those goals coming? Whatever you do, don’t give up.
It isn’t about falling down. It is about refusing to remain down. Or, as the Japanese Proverb says: Fall down seven, stand up eight!