We’ve all reached the point in our lives, usually professionally but sometimes personally, where it feels that we simply don’t have the energy in reserve to keep going with our work. It’s often the case that our spirit is willing even as our bodies are weak, or at least fatigued, but in these instances, even the spirit fails. At that moment we no longer want to do the thing we’ve aspired to and worked towards for months and years. It can be mental fatigue or frustration, but whatever the cause we just want to put down the work and go onto something else entirely.
That feeling, that bigger existential fatigue, is something apart from the simple need to unplug and take a vacation to recharge. It’s reaching a point when you start to question what you’re doing and why, and perhaps it even prompts you to look for an exit from your current employment, though that is a trickier proposition for founders still at the head of their startup. And perhaps that feeling leads to feelings of guilt or recrimination against yourself for feeling those things, in light of what you’ve worked towards and the people who have come with you along the way.
That feeling, that fatigue, can feel like a wall, insurmountable and unnavigable, one that will ultimately stop us more than any outside or tangible force ever could. But that feeling isn’t one that needs to remain permanent or prevent us from continuing on from what we initially hoped to accomplish. We’re in control of ourselves and our fate, and we simply need to work through the temporary roadblocks to get back on track.
How can we get past the emotional and existential walls thrown in our way? We need to step back from the grind and remind ourselves of the initial thoughts and feelings and principles we had when we first started at our current occupation, all of which can feel like a distant memory in the midst of a rough patch. Sometimes it’s the little things that can remind us of what we wanted to do when we started, or even things entirely unrelated to the job itself that can reignite those feelings. For those that fancy themselves writers, reading the works of others, often much better, writers can remind them of what they love about writing and the written word. It can be reading books about others in the industry or looking at your own work from years past that provides the spark to reignite the passion.
Getting out of established routines can also provide enough of a change to reinvigorate or at least offer a new perspective on the work you’re doing. Routine can be great and reassuring for those who rely on a structured day to get it all done, but for others, it can feel like a prison after time. You can be in control of how much change you want, whether it’s just a new route to work or a new spot in the office; if it’s your company, maybe you can even realign your own working hours to offer more time for rest, exercise, or simply a needed change. They might seem like small things, but it’s remarkable how little changes can make an outsized impact on our outlook.
Perhaps the worst thing you can do in the face of your struggles is to try and act as though they don’t exist, as if ignoring the issue will cause it to go away in time. Thinking about the issue, talking it through with others and addressing the underlying problems is the only way to get past it in a meaningful and healthy way. Feeling burned out might not seem like a mental health issue, but our seemingly small problems and issues have a way of building up until they coalesce into much bigger concerns. Don’t think you can simply work your way through by sheer force of will; take care of yourself and your mental wellbeing.
Feeling exhausted and maybe even bored of your work isn’t something that we picture during the initial excitement of our new jobs or ventures, but it’s a reality of life that most of us have faced after long days and nights of challenging and draining work. Frankly, it would be shocking if we didn’t run into this problem at some point. The key is not letting that temporary fatigue or exhaustion lead us into making permanent decisions that we might later regret. #onwards.