Overcoming an extended slump and regaining motivation

Recently, I've been in a slump that no amount of SlowMag could fix(Unfortunately, I'm not sponsored. Cough, cough P&G Health). Although my work and personal life were going well, I felt an overwhelming lack of motivation. A recent Discovery Health survey I completed indicated "low mood". Was this a return of the burnout mentioned in my previous article about mental health? I don't think so. I was not feeling overwhelmed or stressed. I was just feeling... unmotivated. Let's dig into this dilemma together as I write about my experience and how I plan on turning it around.

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It's been a while

It's taken me nearly a year to write this article, even though I know it will take me a few hours. That doesn't feel good. The impact of this slump reached my personal life more than my professional life. Menial tasks have become a chore, and I've been avoiding them. I'm sure we all have those days when we don't feel like doing anything. But this has been going on for weeks, and it's not improving. I decided to reflect and reach out to some professionals for advice. I was told that I need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Most problems are always multi-faceted

In my experience, most problems have multiple angles to them. We often look for a single cause and the quickest, easiest solution. Unfortunately, life is not that simple. I have identified a few puzzle pieces that could be contributing to my overall picture:

  • We've all heard of "thrown into the deep end". I was thrown into the deep end of a task at work. I've been learning a lot, but it's been a bit overwhelming at first. It was sink more than swim.
  • Balancing work and personal life has been a bit of a challenge, but not in the way you might think. I've been spending more time with my family and friends, but I've been neglecting my personal projects.
  • After my burnout last year, I was trying to take it easy and not overwork myself. I think I've taken it too far and avoided anything outside of work that requires significant effort.
  • I do believe that my anxiety and depression, and medication for them, are playing a role in this. I will not exclude them from the list of possible causes, but I will not use them as an excuse.
  • Feeling tired all the time kills energy levels. No matter how much sleep I had, I remained tired.

It's definitely a combination of these factors that have led to my current state. The question is, how do I fix it?

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Addressing each problem separately

As I mentioned earlier, there is no single solution to this problem. Let's brainstorm some ideas to address each of the contributing factors I've identified.

  1. Work is overwhelmingly challenging

As someone that is passionate about learning, I've been enjoying the challenge. However, I've been feeling overwhelmed and struggled to keep up. I'd like to believe that I already solved this problem by the time I finished this article, so let me share what I've done. The most important thing I've done is to communicate with my team. I placed a lot of pressure on myself to perform well and deliver as quickly as possible. Once I spoke to my team members and managers frequently, I realised that this pressure was self-imposed. My team has been very supportive and understanding. This realisation has allowed me to take the time to focus on learning and improving my skills. I've also been able to take a break when I need it, without feeling guilty.

  1. Neglecting personal projects

This problem is a tough case to crack, as it's a recursive problem. Working on personal projects is a great way to learn, grow and get that dopamine hit from accomplishing something you're passionate about. I've been feeling unmotivated, so I didn't work on them, leading to me feeling more unmotivated, making me less likely to work on them. f(n) = f(n-1) + f(n-2) if you know what I mean. A large part of this problem is that I felt the need to complete large sections in one sitting, which is not feasible with the complexities of adult life. After consulting my psychologist about this lack of motivation, one of his tips was to implement simple time-boxing techniques, like a Pomodoro timer. This solution may seem like an obvious one, but if you understand the concept of self-help books, you will understand the importance of packaging advice. The best solution is to time-box my work on personal projects, instead of sub-tasking them. I will set aside a specific amount of time each day to work on them, irrespective of how much I get done.

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  1. Over-correcting burnout recovery

We get leave days for a reason. Everyone is entitled to, and should take, leave days. Schedule some leave days after this article if you haven't recently. The human mind and body need time to rest and recover, but have you ever felt even more tired due to oversleeping? It's a similar concept. I've been hyper-focused on not overworking myself to avoid burnout that I've actually just been underworking myself. Accountability and discipline has kept the work side of my life in check, but I've been neglecting making progress in my personal life. I decided that work, exercise and family time are non-negotiable, but anything else is off the table unless I have excess time and energy. That type of inflexibility is not healthy. We need to be able to adapt to our circumstances and also be able to push ourselves when we need to.

  1. Take care of your physical health

Feeling tired is a compounded problem to solve. It's a symptom of many things, and it's hard to pinpoint the cause. It could be the lack of a fixed sleep schedule, poor diet, a side effect of my medication, a symptom of anxiety and depression, and many other things. I've been trying to address this problem in a few ways, but I'm unsure if they work. This example is yet another multi-faceted problem. What do we do? We break it down and ask for help. Without writing a whole unqualified medical article about my fatigue, I'll summarize it into some takeaway points. I've been to a few doctors and a dietitian, and I've come to the conclusion that I need to perform a sleep study and a few other tests to get to the bottom of this and rule out any serious problems such as sleep apnea. The takeaway here is that if you feel tired all the time, and you explored the basics of sleep hygiene, diet and exercise, it's time to see a professional.


This article doesn't have a neat conclusion. I'm still addressing these problems, and I wrote this article more as a cathartic exercise in reflection than a guide. The goal is that people reading my thoughts and experiences lead to them exploring their own problems and finding solutions. Here's hoping that I can hold myself accountable and ensure I follow through. If you know me personally, feel free to hold me accountable. Finally, writing this article has given me a sense of accomplishment. I'm feeling a bit more motivated already. I hope you've found this article helpful, and I hope you have a great day.


Thank you to these companies and individuals for allowing me to use their images: