I Will Still Do Well: Reimagining Goal-Setting When You’re In The Middle Of Burnout

I Will Still Do Well: Reimagining Goal-Setting When You’re In The Middle Of Burnout

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

There’s this one old Oprah video from 1986 I’ve become obsessed with over the last few years. I’ve watched it so many times I have it memorized and tattooed onto my brain. The exchange goes like this:


HOST: So this show is just getting underway nationally—

OPRAH: (nods) It will do well.

HOST: And if it doesn’t?

OPRAH: And if it doesn’t *I* will STILL do well. I will do well because I’m not defined by a show. I think we are defined by the way we treat ourselves and the way we treat other people. It would be wonderful to be acclaimed as this talk show host that’s made it. That would be wonderful. But if that doesn’t happen, there are other important things in my life.

 

 

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I feel like I’m probably not the only one in your life who’s saying those words right now. Maybe you’re even saying them to yourself. About places you’ve gone, stuff you’ve done, people you’ve seen, or things you’ve felt.

It’s. been. a. while.

Usually when January rolls around, I’m fired up about helping you (and myself, tbh) combat what I call Resolution Season: that time of year when goal-setting feels obligatory, *hEaLtHy hABiTs* are trending, and many of us generally feel pressured to do-change-become SO MUCH at once, and fast. When this usually happens, I like to give you alternatives to the Resolution Season rush so that you feel empowered, not frantic — and so that you avoid the inevitable burnout that comes when you try and force too much on yourself at once.

This year is different: Burnout’s already here.

If your IRL community sounds anything like mine right now, you’re probably hearing (or at the very least sensing) that a whole heck-ton of us are at the ends of our ropes.

And if your social media feeds, fitness studios, supermarkets, or favorite wellness-adjacent apps look anything like mine, you’re probably noticing that the annual push for NEW YEAR NEW YOU doesn’t feel alluring like it maybe has in the past. It doesn’t even feel annoying.

It feels downright insensitive.

 

I will STILL do well.

 

I don’t sugarcoat things here. If you’ve been visiting WANT for a while (some of you have been here almost 7 years!!), you know I won’t try to convince you to feel any way other than how you feel, and won’t lie to you about how I’m feeling, either. 

If you’ve been saying to yourself “It’s been a while,” I want you to know you are NOT alone. I know this because I’m with you. Sometimes it feels like it’s been a while since I was fully at ease. It feels like it’s been a while since I was fired up and motivated to crush a goal. Heck, it feels like it’s been a while since I felt like I was “crushing” anything. After so much stop-and-go hope and letdown this past year+++ — from looking forward to then canceling big family gatherings, to stopping and starting work, to planning, promoting, then postponing my very first retreat and more — I am exhausted. Creating a big list of pie-in-the-sky goals right now, for me, feels masochistic. Almost cruel. Like I’m setting myself up for letdown by “positivity-ing” myself into a dead end.

As someone who actually DOES want to look forward with excitement and possibility (and yes, maybe some goals too), I’ve begun to ask myself:

How the heck do you start setting goals when you feel like you’ve got so much recent “proof” that reaching your goals isn’t really up to you in the first place?

 

I will STILL do well.

 

How you start is by remembering why you do it all in the first place.

All my life I’ve heard the refrain “It’ll be worth it in the end” when faced with frustration, pain, or uncertainty. There’s a part of that that’s true, and. I don’t believe the feeling you get when you get where you’re going needs to be the *only* prize there is. I believe you can get clear on how you want to approach frustration, pain, or uncertainty and make THAT APPROACH your goal. Even before you know what the challenge or destination is.

I believe the unfolding of the journey can be the destination.

I believe it all can be “worth it” in the now.

I don’t need a specific *thing* in mind to work toward this year. I just need to know how I want to feel while I’m working toward whatever it ends up being.

Ease.

Simplicity.

Confidence.

Trust.

Those things, to me, are “goals” that transcend ages or achievements. They’re qualities I want to cultivate in my life whether I’m 35 or 95. And they’re the things, I suspect, that will actually end up defining me in the long run.

 

I will STILL do well.

 

Whether it’s a workout you do, a dissertation you write, a meal you cook, an application you send, or — in the case of Oprah circa 1986 — a show you launch, see what happens if this year, you focus less on what you get OUT of it and more about how you go INTO it.

The beauty of this shift? It prevents one thing from being your everything. It takes the pressure off of it to be perfect, and instead focuses on cultivating mental and emotional habits you can apply anywhere in your life, for your entire life.

The goal isn’t the thing you go after.

The goal is how you go after it.


May this moment be the one we release the image of how things “should” be, and what goals “should” look like, and embrace the reality of who we’ll be no matter where the winds blow us.

Things might go according to plan, or not.

It might do well, or it might not do well.

But YOU will do well.

No matter what.

And that’s what matters. 

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On Beating Overwhelm – Or, A Formal Apology To The Time Known As “Dawn”

On Beating Overwhelm – Or, A Formal Apology To The Time Known As “Dawn”

Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

It all just feels so much more complicated now than it has in the past, doesn’t it?

Or maybe it’s always felt this complicated, we’ve just been too distracted to notice…

The dictionary definition overwhelm – “to overpower in thought or feeling” – doesn’t hold a candle to Overwhelm In The Roaring (20)20s. I’ve written about what to do when it all feels like too much, I’ve written about being overwhelmed by the good things, I’ve written about Ghost Worries. But the nuances of overwhelm in what I’ve been calling the “For-Now Normal” are really something else.

This is an illuminating time we’re in. We’re learning new things and mourning new losses and reaching new milestones and sometimes all three at the same time, and we have very few places to go to recalibrate our system.

Maybe you’re one of the people privileged enough to own a spin bike so you can ride to nowhere, or maybe you have a large backyard or a multi-story house, or maybe you’re in a studio apartment. Maybe you live with other humans (and/or pets) to talk to in person, mask-free. Maybe you’ve moved in with family, or family’s moved in with you, or are Air BNB-ing it long-term for the time being.

But no matter what your situation, you’re being forced to make do with whatever’s in your immediate surroundings, repurposing them to create escapes and releases and comfort and coping mechanisms when all they’d usually be are the norm.

~

To be overwhelmed, I’ve learned, isn’t necessarily a numbers game. It’s not to feel as if there are too many things going on or too many boxes to check off your to-do list. My to-do lists have varied over the last year from page-turners to one simple box to check next to the words “make lunch.” If overwhelm was merely about the numbers, I promise you, I’d be spending way less of my days overwhelmed than I currently am.

No; overwhelm right now is maybe what overwhelm has actually been all along: when your thoughts and feelings not only *feel* overpowering, but they morph and shape-shift so often that you lose sight of where you end and your surroundings begin.

Overwhelm is the place you go when you feel like the world is playing a game of tug-of-war and your arms are the rope. Pull, pull, pull, back, forth, back, forth. It’s not the tug-of-war itself that’s the issue; it’s the way your head and heart are trying to compute what the hell is going on. Internal alarms and ticker-tape thoughts and flickering lights and total blackouts from an over-processed processing machine.

~

I’m up at 5am this morning writing this, every so often glancing over my right shoulder and out my window to see the silver-blue light of morning rising. I look down at the streets, snowy and snow-plowed; someone walks by maybe every five minutes, maybe. Because, pandemic and 5am and bone-ass cold.

I’m up at 5 because I was up at 4:30, because every single human I admire claims to wake up early for whatever reason they deem important. Writing, meditating, moving. But whatever they do, they all claim this is the time they feel they KNOW. The time the doubt and fears fade and they just do what they do.

In many cultures, 4-5am is the time “at which the boundaries that separate the physical realm from the spiritual realm are at their weakest” (quote from this article). “Witching Hour” is usually considered in the 3am or 4am hour, a time that folklore once associated with supernatural happenings. Many articles I read about this time have to do with some sort of spiritual awakening – literally, your spirit waking up – and talk about how many artists, writer, and poets abide by an early waking time.

I always thought it was because it’s the time they’re able to do what they do without being interrupted by the world – work, kids, tasks, partners, friends, colleagues, pets, traffic, the list goes on.

But maybe it’s because it’s the time they’re able to do what they do without being interrupted by themselves.

~

After listening to a few podcasts a few weeks back interviewing my favorite writers – all who said they were early-morning-people – I announced to my husband, Jeremy, that I was going to wake up at 4:30am the following morning.

He asked me why.

“Because I want to. That’s when the writers wake up, and I want to write when the writers write.” It had never occured to me that I could just make a choice like that and go with it.

It’s been a few weeks now. The first week, I stuck to every morning – now, it’s morphed into about 3 times a week, which is a rhythm I can get behind. The main thing I notice that at this time, at this moment, is that my brain just can’t. It won’t access the overwhelm that plagues most of my days – maybe because it’s tired, or maybe because it hasn’t “warmed up” yet. It’s New York City, for freakin’ crying out loud, a city not only built on overwhelm but thriving on the bet it will make you feel all the things at all the times. It’s 5am but I’m still in the middle of the human-made chaos. Still looking over the same avenue.

And yet…and YET. In this moment, all I feel is the silver-blue light and the soft inhale of the morning and I just KNOW.

To the time known as “dawn,” I apologize for judging and ignoring you. I’ve been so resistant to waking up at 4:30 or 5am unless absolutely necessary, like to catch a plane or teach an early class or finish a project by its deadline. Never did I think “because I want to” was “absolutely necessary.”

I wonder how many other things I don’t do because of what I’ve deemed them, or not – or deemed myself, or not.

I wonder how much knowing I’m missing out on because thinking gets to me first.

~

So the lesson here is: sometimes you don’t need to “muster up the courage” or “stop overthinking things.” Sometimes you just need to wake up so early that your brain doesn’t yet have the capacity for self-doubt.

And I wonder if that’s been the trick to overwhelm – good, bad, in-between – this whole time. Whether you wake up early or not.

Find a moment.

Just a pocket.

Sit in silence.

Stare out the window.

Make time to be.

Overwhelm yourself with knowing, before life overwhelms you with thinking, and beat it at its own game.

 

overwhelm waking up early

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WANTcast Episode 108: The Life-Changing Power Of Turning Off Your Notifications with Kelsey Patel

WANTcast Episode 108: The Life-Changing Power Of Turning Off Your Notifications with Kelsey Patel

the WANTcast

Burnout and overwhelm are timeless and can show up any time, any where, around any THING. Kelsey Patel is one of Hollywood’s leading wellness and reiki experts, as well as newly published author of Burning Bright: Rituals, Reiki, and Self-Care to Heal Burnout, Anxiety, and Stress. She is not only a sought-after spiritual empowerment coach, yoga teacher, reiki healer and meditation teacher, but also a multi-faceted entrepreneur and inspirational speaker. She is the creator and founder of Magik Vibes, a soul-enhancing lifestyle brand, which is also the name of her wellness-meets-spirituality podcast. Patel is an expert on burnout and conscious capitalism, facilitating workshops and giving keynote addresses for organizations such as Free People, Aerie, GOOP, and more.

Kelsey’s first book, Burning Bright is a path out of pain, anxiety, burnout, and overwhelm, and shows you the tools you already possess to heal through unique rituals, reiki, and self-care practices.

This episode was recorded a few months back, specifically to address coronavirus-related burnout and overwhelm, and how to transition from what we’ve been calling the ‘For-Now Normal’ to what will eventually be our new normal. Kelsey shares so many ACCESSIBLE tools we can use to, as the artist Bansky once said, “Learn to REST, not QUIT.” Listen for more on this in the episode.

Additional listening centered specifically around burnout while doing anti-racism work, and leaning into wellness as a person of color:

PAUSE ON THE PLAY
Episode 42: How To Avoid Burnout As An Imperfect Ally

BLACK GIRL IN OM

 


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This episode is in support of Reclamation Ventures, a family of brands reclaiming our right to be well. They create conversations, invest in the best talent, and support innovative programs to transform wellness – for all of us. They believe “that when we elevate the capacity of diverse wellness leaders to thrive, we can start to close the wellness gap and increase health equities in communities that need it most.” To get involved, click here.