A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the Top 5 Reasons for Feeling Tired all the time, and which was focused on the physiological (physical) reasons.
In this post, I focus on the top 5 “psychological” reasons behind chronic fatigue and lethargy. I also propose some tips on how to address them.
Before I do though, I urge you to read (and re-read) Part 1 because in my experience (with myself as well as coaching client), physiological / physical problems are at the root cause of chronic fatigue, not psychological.
Once you’ve exhausted all physiological aspects, you can start focusing on the psychological ones, which are:
The absence of a reason to get out of bed in the morning
I find this reason to be by far the most dominant. I have yet to come across someone whose energy doesn’t improve dramatically by simply discovering their “why”.
But discovering a “purpose” is not something that can be achieved in a matter of hours, or days, or even weeks. In fact, it took me a few years before I discovered mine.
However I didn’t spend those years sitting down and thinking about what my purpose could be. I spent those years experimenting, going through dozens of trial and error periods.
If I were to package my journey to my own personal “why” into a step-by-step guide, it would take the following form:
1. READ. Focus on biographies of people who have made a difference in this world. Make sure your books are varied: I’ve read biographies of people no one has heard of, yet their stories are powerful and inspiring. When you read these stories, something will eventually draw you towards a certain direction. You will see yourself in one of those people.
2. TALK. Talk to as many people as possible and from a variety of backgrounds. My “circle” used to be limited to the financial industry (for many years) and triathlon (in recent years). While those are certainly fulfilling in many ways, I made a conscious effort to expand my network into areas I never ventured: artists, creative minds, social workers, medical practitioners, authors, speakers, etc.
3. DON’T BE AFRAID TO FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS. When you read inspiring stories and talk to people from a variety of backgrounds, I guarantee that you will have many moments where your curiosity will be tickled by something. JUMP ON IT: follow that path as if it IS your purpose. It might be, but chances are it won’t be, but it will add tremendous benefits: it will get you a step closer. And if you do that over and over again, you’d be taking dozens of steps towards your true passion.
4. TEACH. Nothing will test the strength of passion towards something like teaching it.
The feeling of helplessness and inability to control one’s own life
This is another powerful one that defeats even the strongest of people.
The feeling of helplessness and lack of control can be overwhelming, and it’s a viscous circle: falling prey to such feelings makes you less productive, which leads to feelings of failure, which reinforces helplessness and lack of control.
The weapon of choice to dislodge yourself from this vicious circle is already with you: pen and paper.
Forget digital apps, to do lists, and project management software. They all work once you reach a certain level of control, but attempting to use them before you are mentally read will only lead to bigger feelings of failure and being overwhelmed (have you ever looked at your to-do list and didn’t even know where to start?).
Here is something you can try instead:
1. PRIORITIZE EVERY WEEKEND: every weekend, sit down and choose 3-4 (no more) projects you believe will have the biggest impact on your life in the coming week.
2. MY 30MIN RULE: underneath each project, break down the steps for each into a series of steps making sure that NONE shall take more than 30min to complete.
3. CHOSE WISELY: select 3 steps for EACH project and schedule them for the coming week. When you complete them, you can always go back and get some more.
4. DO NOT OVER-SCHEDULE: always allocate TRIPLE the time needed for each task, to leave room for delays or to give you room to breathe.
5. BE DISCIPLINED ABOUT DISTRACTIONS: when working on those tasks, switch off your phone, email, and close your door. FOCUS FOR 30min!
No clear evidence of results after repeated hard effort
As human beings, we’re conditioned to be motivated by frequent rewards, by seeing the fruits of our labor.
This is even more critical in today’s world, when you’re faced with dozens of responsibilities and aspirations.
So acknowledging your own success on a frequent basis refills your tank: gives you the energy to keep on pushing towards your goals.
If you adopt the steps I talked about in the previous section (planning), then make sure that at the end of the every day, and at the end of every week: you sit down somewhere quiet, look through your plans, and congratulate yourself for (i) planning well, and (ii) ticking off one 30min task after another.
If you follow this approach and complete a dozen 30-min steps every week, imagine the feeling you’re going to have after a month of such consistency, or 3 months, or a year!
Feeling surrounded by people who pull you down
As you climb the ladder towards success, you will be attracting jealousy. This is inevitable.
Wear it as a badge of honor: the more jealousy surrounds you, the bigger your success is.
But in today’s world of social media, the sheer volume of negativity and jealousy can throw you off your game. It can be distracting, frustrating, and even worse: it can derail you.
My approach to dealing with these circumstances was born out of reading and experimentation. Does it always work? Of course not, I still occasionally fall prey to the temptation of “answering” or “retaliating”, but over time and with practice and awareness, I’ve become much better at “taking things in stride and moving on”.
1. Understand the fact that there is only 1 reason for people being negative towards your success: jealousy. Accept it as further proof of the success you earned from all your hard work.
2. Know when to cut the cord: negativity will immediately separate your “true friends” from “fair weather friends”. Once you have that distinction, don’t think twice about cutting the cord. DO NOT seek revenge, just walk away.
3. Prioritize your energy: energy is limited, and where would you rather put it? If you channel even 1% of your energy towards responding and retaliating, that is 1% less energy put towards your goals… and that 1% can make all the difference between success and failure. Retaliating doesn’t harm the negative person, but it WILL harm you since it diverts your eyes (and energy) away from your goals.
I know it’s not easy. And I don’t claim to get it right all the time: I still fall prey to fatigue, and I still occasionally flop down in front of the TV and switch every off completely.
But at least I now know that I have the skills and (most importantly) the tools I describe above (and in the previous post) to refocus, re-energize, and keep on climbing towards that summit.
And remember: #neversettle