Tips to get fired up for life and business
Written By: Dr. Ernie Ward, Chief Veterinary Officer.
It’s hot out there. Record-setting temps around the globe are leaving many feeling toasted.
Has the heat left you feeling a bit burnt out? Are your personal growth, connection with loved ones, and job satisfaction wilting?
If so, this may be the perfect time to rekindle your inner fires.
No matter what the thermometer reads, keeping your inner fires stoked is vital to your health, happiness, and success. Let’s examine a few simple steps to spark renewed enthusiasm and action in your personal and professional lives.
First, Identify Your Fire Extinguishers
Before you can (re)start a flame, you need to identify what’s dousing your desires. Losing passion is often a long time, insidious process, and you don’t realize it’s gone until too late.
Call it burnout, loss of interest, or emotional exhaustion, the factors that smother your spirit lead to depression, frustration, and eventually desperation, resulting in many of us leaving the profession. And for those that remain, let’s just say these hollow husks of a once vibrant person often make everyone around them miserable.
To overcome burnout and fire up your inner flames, start by taking inventory of the daily activities or occurrences that rob your pep and leave you wishing you were doing anything else. Can you make those tasks more enjoyable by sharing your load? Can they be delegated to someone who enjoys or is better equipped to handle them? Can you combine them to reduce the number of times you have to engage?
No matter how seemingly insignificant these events seem, they add up and weigh you down. All change begins with small steps. The brightest fires begin with a tiny spark.
Document these “daily downers” somewhere you can be reminded of each day. Set a recurring prompt on your phone to ensure you keep your day-to-day efforts on addressing these energy sappers rather than waiting to be reminded when you take an emotional fall. Sometimes simply knowing something undesirable may happen can help you develop strategies to avoid or allay the troublesome event. I’ve found I do better when I know what’s ahead, prepare for it, and strive to do better rather than forget and avoid life’s problems until they smack me in the face.
While some of these “daily downers” are inevitable, you can make them more tolerable by actively focusing on the fact that you’re choosing to do them. That simple mental shift transfers something from an “I have to do it” to “I am choosing to do it.” Meanwhile, recognize that you’re working on making it better, more tolerable, or less intensive.
Recognizing that you’re in control and consciously choosing to do these undesirable actions can help you maintain a more positive attitude and solve the problem.
When we solely focus on the “suck,” we don’t leave room to solve it.
Start Your Day With A Win
One of the reasons I love morning training is that I get to start my day with a win. Simply pulling on my running shoes is a step in the direction of victory. Whether it’s getting up earlier to meditate, prepare a healthy breakfast, or exercise, the key to maintaining enthusiasm begins with positive biofeedback.
The act of setting a goal (“Get up at 6:00 am and go for a 20-minute walk.”) and accomplishing it can set your day off on a positive trajectory. Even better, setting and achieving mini-goals during your morning (“Today I’ll meditate for 15 minutes instead of 10.” or “I’ll go faster until the next stop sign.”) can additionally boost your attitude.
Starting your day with a win is essential to daily happiness and personal growth. This is because each tiny triumph results in a deposit of positive energy for later use.
Throughout our day, we’ll encounter situations in which we don’t feel good about our actions or outcomes. Those events and feelings withdraw from your reservoir of positive feelings. If you take out enough energy, you’ll eventually overdraw on your emotional reserves and feel lousy. Invest in yourself each morning by setting yourself to win, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. Every amp of energy counts.
Tending Your Inner Fire Requires Attention
Be constantly mindful of your emotional state. Too often, we slip into negative patterns of behavior and find ourselves in an outburst or confrontation that we should’ve - and could’ve - avoided by taking action earlier.
Throughout your day, take a moment to reflect on your feelings, what you’re doing, and your attitude towards the task and team. I’ve coached some colleagues to journal their feelings throughout the day to capture their feelings about what they’re doing. Further, recording how their actions affect them emotionally can help identify pain points and activities to work on.
Be present with your feelings and pause when negative emotions creep in. Mindfulness is a powerful tool to help maintain calmness and focus, even during stressful times. Like any form of exercise, it takes time and effort to build the strength and skill to remain in control.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Others for Fuel
The best leaders know they don’t have infinite stores of fuel to blaze their inner fires. Create a network of colleagues, friends, and family that motivate and uplift you when you’re down. Learn to lean on others and let them know your feelings and how they can help you. The two most powerful words in the English language are “I need.” Find folks in your life that give you what you need to grow and succeed.
I’ve found that many strong, Alpha-type leaders are hesitant to exhibit weakness or vulnerability. Eventually, they run out of emotional reserves and end up burned out like anyone else.
True leaders know when and who to ask for help. Even if you don’t feel comfortable asking for help outright, you can still put yourself in a position to benefit from others’ energy and expertise.
I’ve helped plenty of colleagues who never asked directly for help but asked if they could hang out. It doesn’t matter how you get additional energy as long as you recognize that you simply can’t gather it all by yourself.
Fuel for your Mind and Body
Finally, you can’t avoid burnout unless you fuel your body and brain. Prioritize restorative sleep (track it!), exercise (do it!), and diet (it’s the best medicine!). Set aside time for loved ones (no cellphones, please), personal reflection (meditation), and creativity (express yourself).
Our lifestyle is integral to our emotional state and morale. When you’re getting adequate sleep, eating and exercising right, you create confidence and energy you didn’t imagine possible. I can’t stress enough the importance of these daily drivers of emotional and professional success.
Turn up the air conditioner and fire up your inner engines this summer. Pick one of the above tactics, succeed with it, and add another. Before long, you’ll be firing on all cylinders and overflowing with enthusiasm.
Here’s to keeping your inner fires blazing,
Dr. Ernie Ward
Chief Veterinary Officer, VerticalVet