Aug 16, 2021
Motivation and Burnout
Is it hard to stay motivated? Burnout hitting hard? Check out our list of goal- setting ideas and burnout coping strategies.
Emily VanGorder
3 min. read

Regardless of where you are on your educational, professional, or personal journey, getting and staying motivated can be a huge challenge. We’ve created a list of ways you can stay on track and motivated to achieve your goals, as well as what you can do when you’re feeling burnt out. 

Starting Positive

Before you can start planning, you first have to get into the right mindset. Your beliefs dictate your outcome, so a positive outlook and belief in yourself is the key to beginning to achieve your goals. 

Small Steps

Setting goals for yourself can feel overwhelming and exhausting. Instead of having one large goal, like getting a promotion or nailing a final, break it down into smaller, achievable steps that you can start working on now. Maybe in order to get a good grade on a final, you can start a study group, or go in to meet with your professor weekly with questions. If your overall goal is to get a promotion, the first step could be to do well on an upcoming presentation. How can you improve your presentation? Where can you get feedback?

Ambitious > Basic

Basic goals are key to reaching your overall goal, but you’re more likely to be excited and motivated about working towards something big. Statistically, having and reaching larger goals leads to increased performance and commitment. 

Get support!

If you have support from family, friends, or coworkers, tell them about your goal(s) and what you’re doing to make it happen. Their positive support can help you stay excited about what you’re working towards.

Find a mentor

Getting where you want to be can be difficult without help. Reach out to coworkers, friends, family members, or teachers to see if they can help you figure out what you want to be doing and where you want to be. 

Reward and review

Reward yourself for achieving your small goals, no matter how small they may seem. Even a little step is still progress towards your larger goal, and it’s always worth celebrating your success. Rewarding yourself is also a good way to keep yourself motivated and moving forwards, even if things get difficult or you encounter setbacks.

Every so often, review your goals. If working towards a certain goal is causing you more stress than excitement, it might be worthwhile to re-examine your goal and why you want to reach it. Maybe a goal you set for yourself three months ago no longer applies to what you’re working towards. If your goal no longer works for you, let it go, and create a new one. As you grow and change, your goals will too. 

Burnout is real, and when it hits it’s easy to lose sight of what you’ve been excited about or working towards. Here are some ideas for when you lose motivation:

The ‘why’

Figure out why you have this goal, and why you want to achieve it. Your answer to this question can keep you driven and inspired, even if the road to success gets tough. 


Try to pull inspiration from outside sources. You could read an autobiography or a memoir by someone you admire, or talk to a mentor or someone who supports you and your goals. See if they can help you see things in a new light, or have any ideas or information that can help you get back on track. If you shared your goal with these people when you first got started, they can remind you of your original excitement and drive.

Self- Compassion

When you hit burnout, it’s easy to be hard on yourself and try to push past it. However, trying to push yourself too much will only lead to further loss of motivation and more stress. Instead, treat yourself with the same empathy and compassion you’d give a friend in your same situation, and pay attention to your mental, physical, and emotional health. 

Some easy ways to prioritize yourself when you’re feeling burnt out can be making sure you get enough restful sleep, balancing your time alone and with loved ones, getting physical exercise, eating nutritious meals, staying hydrated, and practicing mindfulness. 

Starting over

It is always okay to start fresh! Sometimes goals change, and there’s nothing wrong with deciding you want to pursue something new. It’s likely that the goals you’ve set in the past and the hard work you put into achieving them will help you move forwards with your new goal. You are not letting yourself or others down by changing direction or goals.