We all know that burnout is a dangerous landscape we don't want to find ourselves exploring. It leaves us stressed, drained and sometimes even physically ill. But before we even get to that point, there are warning signs that we often blow by like mile markers on a highway -- and one of them is the feeling of being totally stuck.
We work best when we're fulfilled, inspired and challenged, and when that drive disappears, burnout may not be too far off. If you're trapped in a rut, take charge now and ask yourself the following questions.
What makes me feel happy?
With so many self-help tips on how to reach a state of bliss, we often find ourselves focusing on the how more than the what when it comes to happiness. When you're in a rut, evaluate what makes you happiest. It could be as simple as taking your dog for a walk in the park or more in-depth, like volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. The point is, identifying what makes you most fulfilled can help you figure out how to move forward in pursuit of your best life. Research shows the happier we are at work, the more productive we actually are in the office.
Where do I want to go from here?
Or in other words, what's the next step you'd like to take? Once you determine what you want to do, write it down. Studies have found that jotting down your goals will make you more likely to achieve them. By turning what you want into something measurable and concrete, you'll feel more motivated to stick to it -- and as a result, you'll move forward.
What's the worst that can happen?
We're often guilty of limiting ourselves due to our fear of failure. But if not succeeding is the worst that can happen, author and HuffPost blogger Mike Liguori has some words of wisdom for you: Do it anyway. "Life has to bring us incredible amount of uncertainty in order for us to learn lessons," he wrote. "That's what makes us grow and become better people. Imagine if we knew everything that was going to happen to us when we tried something new or took a risk in life." In other words, it's time to make failure your friend.
Do I deserve what I'm trying to go after?
In short, the answer is yes. But if you don't feel like you deserve it, chances are you'll feel less motivated to actually go after what makes you happy. Research shows that self-acceptance, part of which is the belief that you are good enough, is crucial to happiness, but it's something we don't regularly practice.
As clinical psychologist Suzanne Lachmann, Psy.D., points out, it's important to identify what's making you feel this way in order to move past it. "Feeling undeserving creates resistance to positive change," she wrote in a recent Psychology Today blog. "Once you understand what makes you feel undeserving, it's a process, and a messy one at that to become more self-assured and view your future more positively. What actually happens as you work on forgiving yourself for the deep-rooted feelings that hold you back, is that you start to feel better, lighter, more relieved and more understood in your own experience."
This GPS Guide is part of a series of posts designed to bring you back to balance when you're feeling off course.
GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others' stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing "secret weapons" that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.