Effort by its very definition is work. It might be enjoyable work but it is work. Sometimes it’s very easy, maybe so easy that it doesn’t even register. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s hard work. Sometimes it’s very hard work. Sometimes, whether you’re feeling ill, blue or tired, or if you are having an off day, you just can’t be bothered to put the effort in at all. And that’s okay.
If you haven’t read one of my posts before, in addition to my travel, interiors, style and fitness posts peppered across the blog, I implemented a one year happiness project in April. The project is broken down into one word monthly themes. The word theme is a particular element I am focussing on for that month. In April, my word theme was DECLUTTER and this month my word theme is EFFORT.
So far I’ve been putting more effort into a host of things including getting up earlier, not putting off tasks, putting more time into my appearance and exercise.
However, I know I am prone to running myself in the ground whilst trying to do anything and everything. After I qualified I had a period where I worked very early until very late, went out when I wasn’t working, wore my body out by exercising too much, slept too little. This was particularly true a few years ago and then when I stopped, say for Christmas, or Easter, I would always be frazzled and burnt out. I felt and looked terrible. I know this. My family told me. I wasn’t looking after myself properly. I was worn out.
Looking back, this has made it easier for me to spot the warning signs so I am alert to, and can avoid, the same situation today.
In this post I’m looking at the spectrum from a little bit of lethargy to full on burn out.
1. It’s okay to have a day when you just stay in bed.
It’s okay not to be “on” all the time. It’s a concept that seems simple enough but in this fast paced world it can easily be forgotten. I have now come to accept this one even though it goes against my natural inclination. I’m a morning person. I don’t like to lie in as a rule because I equate that to wasting a day. I like to be “doing.” As I get older though, just as rest days are important in marathon training, rest days are important in life. So just stop. Say no to plans and yes to yourself. Stay in bed and don’t feel guilty. Don’t make a mental to do list. Don’t do anything. Just sleep, snooze, read a book or listen to calming music. Don’t have two screens (like your TV and phone) on in front of you. Don’t do any technology. Put your phone down. Recharge (you, not the phone) and recuperate.
2. There are ways to make an effort without making too much of a concerted effort.
If you can only. E bothered to make a tiny effort, I wrote a post here on 21 ways to make an effort in under 10 minutes.
3. Lower the bar
A tip that I picked up from one of my favourite authors and the inspiration behind my happiness project, Gretchen Rubin. You can listen to her podcast here. You don’t have to do something to an exacting standard all the time. Do a Helen Mirren in the film The Calendar Girls and take a cake from M&S. I’m not say cheat in a baking competition but if you have to take something to a party, or take paper plates and napkins. If you’ve never exercised before do it once a week rather than setting an expectation of every day. Have people over for dinner and order takeaway. Something is better than nothing.
4 Buddy Up
If you can’t motivate yourself team up with a friend. Sometimes it’s easier when there is someone in the same boat as you. You can encourage each other and be accountable to the other. Also, I’ve found a great motivator is to listen to people who are doing exciting things and undertaking exciting projects.
5. Write a journal
I was given a beautiful burgundy, leather bound journal (à la Bridget Jones) for my 18th birthday and it was one of my favourite presents. Ever. I’m now onto my sixth, I think, plus two travel journals. Sometimes it’s good just to pour out all of your thoughts onto paper. It can really help you recognise patterns, feelings and triggers. It can also stop your head from whirring (if only a little bit sometimes) and motivate you.
6.Say no and focus
Say no. Be more selective in what you choose to put the effort into. If you don’t want to put effort into everything then choose one or two things you want to put your efforts into and focus them on that. Recognise that you can’t do everything and can’t be everything to everyone. Don’t spread yourself too thinly.
And if you really can’t be bothered, at least brush your teeth!