Through lots of discussion, reading and experience, here are a few strategies others have found helpful in creating balance in your life and avoiding burnout while getting your idea off the ground.
One of the hardest things that we – as young people who care about the world and our place in it – have to come to realize is that unless we’re good to ourselves, we’re no good to anyone else. What we do for ourselves, we do for others. What we do for others, we do for ourselves.
But the realization of this and actually doing it can be two very different challenges. The more I’ve learned about this, the more I realize that I need to bring these habits, tools and skills into my life regularly.
Here are some of the best lessons I’ve learned from successful change makers, entrepreneurs and young people:
• Create and use your support network – Bringing an idea to life can be a pretty lonely experience at times. That loneliness can cause us to be easily discouraged and to give up if we don’t have the right support system in place. Look at the people you have in your life and the role(s) they might play in supporting you. Equally, look at how you can support others who may be going through their own struggles.
• You control your thoughts, they don’t control you – This was a big lesson I had to learn through personal experience. When you’re tired, lonely, or frustrated, those tiny little voices in your head telling you “you suck” or “you’ll never get this finished” seem to get a louder and louder. Your thoughts have an incredible power over your behaviour and actions. So much so, that you can physically make yourself feel sick, angry or upset just by thinking about things that make you that way. What you focus on grows. Use that to help change your mindset towards setbacks and challenges.
• Seek out motivation and inspiration regularly – read about the people who have overcome adversity and whose stories can inspire you to endure. Take time everyday to read an inspiring quote, watch a motivating video or have an engaging conversation that energizes and drives you to continue the work that you’re doing.
• Recognize the choices you have – In every situation and experience, there’s always a choice to be made. Sometimes those choices are big ones, like whether or not you’re going to go back to school or risk everything to bring that idea you have to life. Sometimes the choices are a bit more subtle, such as choosing how you want to respond to that friend or family member who claims to be the “realist” and, often unintentionally, is cutting you down piece by piece with statements like “well maybe you should consider getting a real job” or “I’m only telling you this because I care but what you’re doing isn’t realistic, I just don’t want you to get hurt.”
• Practice awareness – The most empowering and beneficial thing you can do for yourself is to practice awareness. This means becoming more aware of the emotions that drive you, the challenges that you’re facing and why they’re important, as well as having an awareness of the choices you have for the Good work that you’re doing.
• Write it out – Take the time to sit down regularly and write out what’s happening in your life at that time. Write about the challenges and the learning but don’t forget also to write about the really good things that are happening as well. Start what’s called a “gratitude journal”. At least once a week, write out 5-10 things that you’re grateful for in your life. Research shows that this increases happiness and that happy people live longer, tend to be more creative and energetic, get sick less often, help others more often, as well as are more likely to learn and have more meaningful experiences. Here’s a link to learn more about it.
• Feel what you feel… and move forward – Somewhere along the lines, we’ve been taught that it’s not ok to feel sad or frustrated or angry…that these are destructive emotions that we should feel guilty about.
Emotions only become destructive when you allow them to control and drive your behaviour. It’s ok to feel sad and discouraged because you didn’t land that partnership you worked so hard on. When it becomes not ok is when those emotions of sadness and anger begin to take over every other aspect of who you are.
• Challenges are opportunities to grow and develop- Look for the lessons in the challenge. What are you being taught right now? Patience? Understanding? Endurance? How to deal with difficult people? How to overcome your negative thoughts?
In each challenge there’s an opportunity for you to learn a lesson and come out of it a bit better than you were before.
• Commit to being a little better every day – It’s a commitment you make to and for yourself that positively flows over to the work you do and the people you care about. Committing to being better than you were the day before helps to keep you focused on and accountable for your thoughts and actions.
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Matt Tod is an international speaker, leadership facilitator, writer and lover of all things Zombie-related.