Are We There Yet? How to Avoid Burnout on the Way to Your Dreams

If you are a creative type, someone who likes to write, draw, record music, or has dreams of creating your own whatever, chances are at some point you may feel a little burned out. Dreams take a long time to achieve, at least that’s what I tell myself.Fire burning off the road in the distance

When I recently found myself feeling burned out, I wondered how I could keep myself from losing steam. So here are a few questions to ask yourself if you’re passion is starting to flicker.

Do you remember what you are trying to accomplish? Is it still relevant?Do you need to revise your dream? Do you have a set of goals for achieving it? Do they need revising? 

What exactly are you trying to accomplish? Has it changed? Did you start out with one dream and has it merged into something else. Maybe you originally interested in a certain type of writing, but now find yourself interested in something different. If your desires have changed, have your goals for achieving them changed? If not, maybe it’s time to think of some new steps to get to your new goal.

Are you still having fun? Are you pushing too hard? Do you need a break?

Are you still passionate about what you thought you were passionate about? As with the above, this question is designed to help you fine-tune your dream. If you used to really enjoy yourself, but now you find yourself slogging along toward your goal, you might need to refine what it is you are working toward or how you are working at it. If you thought you really wanted to be a poet, but find that it isn’t resonating with you, you could try a different type of writing and see if you like it better.

Sometimes you just need to relax. I find myself pushing too hard sometimes where I become too serious. It starts to seem as if everything in my life depends on writing, submitting, and being published. But when I try so hard, it isn’t fun anymore. This is where I find myself now. Here is a list of some ways I’ve thought about taking a break from writing and submitting:

Game board with start and finish
Game board image from https://www.timvandevall.com/
  • Make a collage
  • Color or draw
  • Read a magazine
  • Read my old writing for ideas
  • Write longhand instead of on the computer
  • Read a book
  • Organize and declutter
  • Take a walk
  • Go to a museum
  • Listen to classical music or music in another language
  • Play music
  • See Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way  for ideas on the Artist Date

Are you not doing enough? Do you need to do more? What can you do differently?

Conversely, you may feel like you’re not accomplishing anything because you’re not going anywhere. If you have taken a break for too long, make a list of ways you can get energized by your dream again. Think about questions 1 and 2, to see if there are new ways or new directions to take.

Have you noted your successes?

One way to avoid burnout is to notice the signposts and successes along the way of your journey. These don’t have to be all external. Reward yourself for trying new things, putting yourself out there, and for the confidence you’ve gained. You can also reward yourself at the beginning of a month for keeping on your way toward your goal.
Notice the signposts and successes along the way of your journey. These don't have to be all external. Reward yourself for trying new things, putting yourself out there, and for the confidence you've gained. Click To Tweet

Rethink rejection and letdowns
If you put yourself out there with your dream, there are bound to be some letdowns. Things won’t go as quickly as you thought and people won’t always react as you expected. Allow yourself to feel down, but don’t stay there. Think of each of these disappointments as part of the journey. Try not to take it personally as being a criticism of you, but as something you can learn and grow from so that you can get better and get closer to your goal.

Map it out – but enjoy the journeygoals map successes and areas for growth

Finally, remember why you wanted to pursue your dream in the first place. It was something that made you happy and that challenged you. Map it out so you can reach your goal, but don’t forget to enjoy yourself along the way.

I hope you find these questions helpful to help you reignite your passion as it ebbs and flows. But I want to hear from you. Let me know in the comments. What do you do when you find yourself feeling frustrated or burned out? How do you keep yourself on track for the long haul?

34 comments

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  1. Shohinee Deb

    Thank you for writing thus post. Burn out is often unavoidable in your creative journey but it should be taken as an opportunity to re-analyse your goals. You did a really good job in elucidating that.

    • Catherine Lanser

      I just read something about how easy it is to remember our failures and forget our successes. Just think how happy we could be if we flip-flopped it. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Penny

    I absolutely adore this post! I have been feeling burnout but that’s because I’ve accomplished so much this year. I’m a Lifestyle Entrepreneur with two businesses, 8515 + ISLP. So I’ve planned 4 events, traveled to 7 different cities, I published my second book, worked with 5 clients, and I released my first online course. That said, 2018 has taken a lot out of me. At this point, I just want to start planning for 2019 and take a nice long Holiday break. I still love what I do but I need to relax, lol!

    • Catherine Lanser

      Health can definitely be a blocker to our dreams too. I’m glad you found the suggestions helpful. Thank you for your comment.

  3. Nikolina Ho

    These are really great questions to ask yourself. Personally, what I do it try to listen to music for inspiration. I have a couple of playlists that I love to listen to while I am writing. Also, I have started again to write in a notebook that I keep on my desk the whole time. I draft my blog posts there first and then I type them on the computer. It takes more time, but I like writing on paper.

    • Catherine Lanser

      It’s surprising how different it is to write on paper. I try to keep paper by to jot down my thoughts, but writing long pieces is hard since my writing is hard to read!

  4. Joan Senio

    Good post that I think almost everyone can relate to! When I’m feeling burned out, I need to something completely different. So if I’ve been doing technical work, I need to watch a brainless comedy. If I’ve been writing (my alone time), I need to get out and interact with others and move around. For me, it’s about resting what’s tired by using something else for a while. Thanks for sharing this post!

    • Catherine Lanser

      I think I should come up with a whole list of brainless comedies to watch. I try to find them sometimes and can’t find the right amount of “brainless”.

  5. MJ

    Great post! I love the list that you made, currently saving it! It will definitely help me out.❤️❤️ I’m motivated and inspired ✨

  6. christine

    I am feeling a little burned out right now and it’s only Day 6 of Nano!! aarrgghh 😉 So much good advice here!
    I live near the beach and I find taking a walk gets my juices flowing. and yoga!! omg, when I go to a class I usually have a pen and paper with me because I always get writing ideas in the first few minutes. The story for Nano basically downloaded one yoga class! Gotta love that!

    • Catherine Lanser

      I was actually thinking of NANOWRIMO when I started to write this. I haven’t done it, but I can imagine how it could be a bit frustrating.

      That’s a good idea to bring paper and pen to yoga class. I usually talk to my phone in the car, but forget a lot on the way there.

  7. Caleb Wygal

    Great post! Sometimes when I get burned out (or have writer’s block) I find that taking a long drive often helps. Or a shower.

    I think to add to this, avoiding burnout doesn’t always begin with yourself. You might find yourself in a funk and while you’re trying to find inspiration on what you want to do or where you want to go, sometimes outside influences come into play.

    For example, we have lived in our city for about 15 years. I’m a social media marketer, website developer, author, and stay-at-home dad to a 15-month-old. For months, I’ve felt stuck and losing interest in what pays the bills (social media marketing). Wasn’t sure about what direction I want to go or even what I could do.

    Then we go on vacation and my wife makes a connection with a potential employer for her. We debated and discussed and talked about actually packing up and moving to the beach (which is something we’ve wanted to do for a long, long time).

    In my spare time, I got to looking and researching the area for possible freelance gigs and came up with several avenues and ideas. Now I’m ready to go and move on to a new, exciting phase in our lives with a new direction in my life.

    • Catherine Lanser

      I agree. I think the time of year has an impact on burnout. This time of year when the environment is not as nice outside, I feel like I have to create more inside.

      It sounds like refocusing a bit for you helped. I think that is good to do. Not necessarily reinventing all the time, but just targeting in a little differently.

      Thanks for the helpful comment!

  8. Liliana

    This is a great post, sometimes I do ask myself if I can see myself doing something else and the answer is always no. Of course there are times when I am out of steam, but it is good to remind myself of the end goal.

    Thank you!
    Liliana

    • Catherine Lanser

      Thanks, Liliana. Sometimes I think it helps to write the goal again. I think that’s why I like lists so much.

  9. Leiloni Schulz

    I found the list of things that you could do to just get a break are great! I often make time at the end of each day in order to watch TV, and get a break. I often forget that if I can find bits of extra time that creative outlets are therapeutic as well. I think that I should take more time to draw, or make greeting cards, or even paint. Thanks for the insight on those.

    • Catherine Lanser

      Thanks! I used to do more artistic things and want to get back to that. I think it would help me be more creative all around. Glad this was helpful to you!

  10. Sherry

    This post is incredibly helpful! I will need to come back to this later when I have more time and really ensure I am answering these questions for myself. Thank you!

    • Catherine Lanser

      Definitely, it’s good to be focused, but not take yourself too seriously either. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Alexandra

    I love this idea! A great way to stay inspired and creative. I am going to give some of your ideas a try. Thank you 🙂

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