Self-Imposed Breaks And Motivation

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Motivators will often talk about ways to power through when you aren’t feeling it but we want to flip the script and discuss the value of holding back when you are feeling it. This might sound like nonsense. If you’re feeling motivated you should just go for it right?

The problem is that powering through when you aren’t feeling it or jumping on board when you are feeling it are both reactionary attitudes. They rely on transient states of mind and anyone seriously interested in self-actualization, in accomplishing anything of substance, has got to account for the long-term and this means being really careful about burnout.

Coming from the mental health paradigm I’m a lot more sensitive to burnout than many of the motivational speakers out there, who are often more interested in whipping people into a frenzy than they are in that plodding but steady progress that might not be flashy but does get real results. Self-actualization is not a sprint it’s a marathon.

As a concrete example of what I’m talking about I never write articles on the weekends, even when I’ve got some good ideas floating around and feel really motivated to get them on paper. But with those self-imposed breaks I always feel excited to get back to work on Monday and I get to close my gestalt every Friday, I don’t have that sense of work being interminable. In the short-term I may have been able to pump out more articles but with my strategy I feel as motivated now as I ever did, and I don’t think I would feel this way if I wrote seven days a week.

You don’t need to feel bad about taking breaks if you know that you are highly committed to what you’re doing. This underlying commitment is the real issue, not the superficial strategies to either harness your energy when it’s there or power through when it’s not. Either of these strategies might get you results in the short-term but you’ll probably end up quitting in the long-term unless you can find a pace for yourself that’s sustainable, one that lets you really enjoy what you’re doing while you’re doing it instead of coming to feel like it’s a slog.