Burn Out – Part 2 – Lack of Progress
This is the second of the burn out articles, to read the first, please go here.
You’re tired. You’re stressed. You feel like you’re in a hamster wheel, going ‘round and ‘round with no end in sight. If you were on a virtual treadmill, you’d have gone 1,000 miles by now, and yet have gotten nowhere. Your lack of progress is killing you.
Is that how you feel?
Welcome to burn out in one of its many forms. We call this one “Lack of Progress.”
Generally, when we think of progress, we think of a series of ladder rungs, each one leading to a goal. There might be a lot of rungs, but as you climb each one, you feel like you’ve accomplished something and are closer to your objective. Sometimes, however, it seems like you’re on the same rung forever. That next milestone is just out of reach, so close and yet so far. In the meantime, you’re stuck half way between here and there, which is a pretty frustrating location.
“Burn out for me is when the well has run dry and my muse has packed up and gone on holiday. I’m stuck in what I’m doing. Mechanically, everything is working. The wheels are turning and I think I’m getting someplace until I realize I’m on a treadmill, so all I’m doing is running in place. If this happens while I’m in the middle of a story, I usually take a break of a day or so, then get back to it through “new eyes.” However, someone once told me that if you feel your story is headed in a flat, aimless direction, you need to give your characters more conflict. Put something in their way so they have to use the qualities you’ve given them to get out of the mess you’ve put them in. When I’ve gone back to a story and done that, it usually takes off and sometimes in a new direction, but at least it’s no longer running in place.” ~Author Kathryn R. Blake, writer of Acting Lessons and more.
Let’s think about this. Even as you’re hanging out, waiting for that spark that ignites progress, you’re doing things. Little things, maybe, but they’re still getting done. Maybe your ticket off the treadmill is to celebrate small successes. “I walked a mile today.” Maybe you also walked a mile yesterday, but today, perhaps it seemed a little easier. You’re thinking you can also walk a mile tomorrow, and feel even better. Or maybe your success is that you didn’t fall off the treadmill. That’s something to be happy about, too.
To feel better about those repetitive tasks we all have to do as we slowly climb the ladder, celebrate small successes. It might be in your career, or your everyday life. Try not to focus on the things you do over and over again, but on the things that make each moment unique.
You have small successes every day. You are climbing that ladder toward your goal. Maybe not a rung at a time, but perhaps reaching is getting easier and you can see that next rung almost at your fingertips. You know your goal, and, believe me, that’s a pretty big step in the right direction.
Keep track of those little victories. The smallest ones still count. If you feel like you’re not making progress, remember that even stretching is progress. And, sometimes even doing the same thing ten times adds a stepping stone on your pathway toward success.
Anastasia Vitsky, author of Mira’s Miracle and other exciting books, shares: “For me, burn out is when I start doing what I think I should do, rather than what brings me joy and satisfaction. It shows in my writing and other aspects of my work.”
Every little bit of progress you make should be a joyful experience. Enjoy the parts that make you happy—there are plenty of those if you look for them. Take pride and satisfaction in each moment.
Bottom line: note and celebrate small successes. You’ll feel better every day and leave burn out behind.