I’m having a hard time.
Not with my mental or physical health, my relationships or my education. I’m having a hard time doing things.
I hate waking up in the morning. I can’t stand the thought of going to the gym. I’m willing to do nearly anything to avoid doing the things I actually need to do.
Motivation is a super weird thing for me because I’m not motivated by much. I don’t care if I’m rich or famous or a Fortune 500 CEO or America’s Next Top Model. I’m driven by intrinsic factors. I want to be happy, I want to feel fulfilled by my job, I want to make important change in the world, I want to have healthy relationships. Kumbaya and all that.
But these aren’t specific goals and when I don’t feel like doing something it becomes nearly impossible for me to get anything done. With no real way to measure these goals, I can easily avoid holding myself accountable for them. And the almost time is coming up quick. Almost graduating, almost summer, almost time to get a job, almost on my own.
I’ve almost lost my mind. Because I see these concrete milestones coming my way but I have genuinely no energy to care, which leaves me wondering:
Is there something wrong with me? Am I burnt out? Will I ever enjoy waking up before 10 a.m.? I want to be in shape, why can’t I get myself to the gym? If I can’t motivate myself to do simple things, how can I ever be successful in a profession?
All valid questions; all stress me out.
I know I’m not alone, nearly everyone my age feels overworked and underwhelmed. Roughly 73% of millennials report working over 40 hours per week. Now I’m not a millennial (Gen Z wya?) and I don’t have a full-time job, but I work 40 hours per week not including going to school full time. And this is the new normal.
For those who don’t overwork themselves, I’ll break this down for you. Each week I spend:
34 hours doing work for The Spectrum
13 hours sitting in classes
5-10 hours at my minimum wage job
3 hours doing homework
That’s roughly 60 hours on an average week. Now I’m grateful for each of these –– my education, the opportunity to create awesome work with super cool people, a job that essentially let’s me choose when I work. But working these jobs distracts me from investing in myself.
I did some (super estimated) math and after subtracting time spent doing necessary tasks –– like sleeping (8 hours/day), eating (~2 hours/day), showering/ getting ready (~1.5 hours/day) –– I’m left with just under four hours per day not doing work. (*Also not including time spent driving, waiting in line at Starbucks or working out.)
I haven’t reported on a story in months. Last week I forgot to schedule my blog and posted late. I spend so much time doing things for other people (or organizations or school) that by the time I’m home I don’t want to do things for myself.
With hours like that of course I’m burnt out, but I don’t expect post-graduation life to be much different than right now. So how can I make sure that I don’t dread getting out of bed every day for the rest of my life?
This is the point in the post where I have some miraculous realization that leaves me with all the answers and inspires me to change my life course. But today that’s just not going to happen.
But I’m starting to think that’s okay?
Maybe I don’t know exactly what I want to do with my life, and right now I hate how I spend my days. But I genuinely think those things won’t last forever.
For now, I think healthy steps toward motivation are simple. Setting specific goals rather than overarching ones (‘I want to write two blogs this week’ rather than ‘I want to post a blog every Friday’). Planning good things for my mornings (like cute lattes and real breakfast) so I have something to look forward to besides spending 45 minutes finding parking on campus. Rewarding myself for the little victories, so when I spend my four hours of free time Monday – Friday working toward my goals I can use my four hours of free time Saturday to relax.
It isn’t much, but to turn bad habits into good habits, you have to start somewhere. And I don’t expect to wake up tomorrow and feel thrilled to edit, but maybe if I put my own goals first, helping others toward theirs won’t feel so draining.
With love and optimism,