Hi lovely readers! I just wanted to announce that we’re sending Allie a $5.00 Amazon gift card for her awesome comment last week. We love great comments and we want to show our appreciation. Thanks Allie!
Burning out sucks. Being a student just makes it worse.
Here is the thing though: student burnout will usually become a good thing in the long run.
Every time you start burning out you probably feel frustrated but you should also be excited. It’s a sign that you’re about to figure something important out.
You’re frustrated with something in your life and this is your chance to solve it. Believe it or not, most students never even try to solve their frustrations in school because they’re too busy hiding it. Or worse, they never solve their problems because they ignore them. They suffer through them.
You don’t have to do that. You can solve your problems because you’re accepting reality:
You’re Burnt Out
School is a difficult time. The hardest job in the world is being a student because there is no other job with so little control or immediate reward.
The average employee can quit. The average employee can go home and use their paycheck. The average employee isn’t judged on their performance on a daily basis. The average student is stuck in a really tough position. They get judged. They don’t get paid. They can’t quit. You need to manage your emotions like a contortionist moves their body.
Some days you need to push yourself harder. Some days you need to learn to relax a little. Some days you need to study more. Some days you should probably study less. Some days you want to make friends with the teachers. Other days you want to call them out on their mistakes. School is complicated.
It’s okay to get frustrated. It’s natural.
Here is how you fix it:
What Can You Manage?
There are plenty of things that you can’t manage in your life. That’s okay. Some things are beyond your control. Getting everything you want is not a prerequisite to happiness. (I’d be willing to bet it’s the opposite.) In fact, the number one contributor to happiness is control over your own life.
People are happier when they have choices but that isn’t the really important part. The important part is this…
People are happier when they know the choices they have (even if they don’t change their mind.)
In this site’s classic example:
Consider dropping out of school. It may not be a good choice but honestly consider whether or not you want to. By considering that possibility but choosing to stay in school, you’re going to be a whole lot happier staying at school.
If you can convince yourself that you have a choice then you’re happier despite your position not changing at all. It just improves your perspective.
That’s why I recommend dealing with student burnout by first figuring out what you can change…
Make a list of all of the important things in your life. You can make it the things you do or the goals you’re trying to achieve or the things you think about or anything that seems appropriate. What do you think the important things are?
Now that you know the important things… dig into that list and write down what you can change about them.
In college you have the freedom to:
- Drop out
- Work harder
- Work less
- Set different expectations
- Change majors
- Take a semester off
Just list what comes to your mind and try not to rule anything out that you think of. (If you can brainstorm it then it probably is possible. Don’t rule of the unpleasant yet.)
Go through these important things in your life and make new decisions. Stop and consider all the options you have. What are the consequences of each one? What are the potential rewards of each one? Which is your best option at this point in your life?
“At this point in your life” is important. I may wish I could become a Running Back in the NFL but my 150lb frame, mediocre fitness, and low potential doesn’t make this a very hopeful option. Sure… I could try. I just probably shouldn’t.
If you’re questioning whether or not you should change majors in college then you might want to think about the return on investment of your decision. As a freshman, it could be a good decision. As a senior, it could be a bad decision.
My point is: this isn’t a hopeful dreamy eyed discussion of possibilities. This should be an assessment grounded in reality.
Why This Works
This strategy is all about getting what you’re thinking on paper.
No one can tell you how to deal with student burnout other than you. Getting your mind of paper helps you focus on what’s really important to you and what problems you’re really frustrated about in life. Every step of it is about getting control of your own thoughts.
Once you know what you’re really concerned about then you can gain control of your priorities.
Your reorganized priorities help you adjust your actions. You will find out if the things you’ve been spending your time on are actually the things you care about. You can get more focused on the things you care about.
I’ve talked with hundreds of students. I get messages from students struggling from some form of student burnout regularly. It’s a serious concern but it’s usually not a serious problem. It’s just the first step to getting to the solution.
Remember this: There is no permanent solution to burning out because life is always changing. Your priorities today may not be your priorities tomorrow. Over time, even small changes can turn into major frustrations because you don’t even notice how your priorities and actions are no longer aligned.
Relax. Figure out what matters. Focus on fixing that.
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