Author Topic: Self-improvement burnout; college starting soon; not enough time?  (Read 2494 times)

Cy

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Self-improvement burnout; college starting soon; not enough time?
« on: September 17, 2016, 10:10:56 AM »
    Hi. I've posted an earlier thread about my situation as a tech college student with little money to earn and little desire to spend. I've been digging deep into finance research and I've been pumped to discover that many of my mentalities align with a future frugal lifestyle (we're halfway through the month and without lacking anything, including socialising, I've spent little over your equivalent of $8).

    Things have... developed. I've started eating healthy, tracking all of my life satisfaction in all major areas (mental stability, health, rest, social, and other 19), exercising regularly, researching finance, advising more selectively, tracking my meager expenses, exploring the city more, meditating, writing how I feel a bit more, and a bunch of other good habits.

   However, college is starting within two weeks and I feel incredibly burned out. There's so many ways in which I could improve and build and there's no way I can do all of them, even a bit of each, every day. As such, I find it difficult to keep up a good habit for more than a few days consecutively (how could I possibly have enough willpower and need for all of them?) and I self-flagellate really horribly when I fail to keep up or end up giving in to lesser impulses. I feel like I'm doing a pretty poor job of everything most of the time, and when I do a good job, I feel like it's unsustainable (eg. I've meditated, exercised for half an hour, unravelled some of my psyche in my journal, cooked and ate well, maintained a healthy relationship with society, researched finance... there's no way I can do it again the day after.). Also, I've started a career orientation training and in a few weeks I plan to e-mail the team leader of a web dev company I'm very interested in for an internship.

    College is starting soon, and it feels like a looming, horrendous threat, not because it's too bad, but because it'll cut all of my energy and time into pieces, and I'll be even less satisfied with my efforts to improve. It's also leading me to "cram" self-improvement and self-flagellate if I've failed to stay above my "better self" line. I should prioritise, I know, but it feels bad, to the point of mental screaming inside, to willingly ignore an area I should develop. It sounds rationally healthy to just put off finance research or this thing or that thing while I improve in only a handful of ways, but it feels like I'm ignoring a glaring problem that will bite me the moment it decays to a certain level of death!

    I need your help, mustachians. How do I avoid self-improvement burnout, prioritise and keep myself sane while not feeling like certain areas of me aren't moving fast enough?

Bicycle_B

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Re: Self-improvement burnout; college starting soon; not enough time?
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2016, 03:23:25 PM »
Are you a normal age for college?

If so, please focus on moderation and realize that perfection is not needed most of the time in life.  Focus more on being calm and doing only basic things, in other words, rather than trying to be perfect.  You will be good enough and the rest will sort itself out.

Also - please don't be offended, but if your post is an accurate summary of your normal state, you should probably research and (where possible) use whatever counseling options your college has.  Not saying you're crazy or anything, just that college is a demanding time and you should use the tools available.  Half of your peers are just as freaked out but many will hide it.  Let the professionals' experience sink into your heart as you gradually grow more self-confident.

You are unlikely to flunk out of college or fail in the workforce due to issues of intellectual skill.  Learning to relate to people calmly and do basic things consistently are necessary, though - not doing those can lead to failure in almost any activity.  Take it one step at a time and you're likely to be fine.

Cy

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Re: Self-improvement burnout; college starting soon; not enough time?
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2016, 01:52:26 AM »
Also - please don't be offended, but if your post is an accurate summary of your normal state, you should probably research and (where possible) use whatever counseling options your college has.  Not saying you're crazy or anything, just that college is a demanding time and you should use the tools available.  Half of your peers are just as freaked out but many will hide it.  Let the professionals' experience sink into your heart as you gradually grow more self-confident.

Of course, I'm not offended. I have been diagnosed with GAD(generalised anxiety disorder) and on-and-off depression, though. I've had basically nothing but poor experiences with professional therapy. I might keep searching if things slip out of control...

But you guys are right.. It just feels like I'm not doing enough the moment an improvement gets normalised. Almost like an addiction but it feels strange to call it that. Nonetheless, I feel like I keep getting hit in the areas I'm not focusing down, for example I've been researching and learning a lot, as well as exercising, look at my web progress, I've been eating well... and then I get backstabbed or fall behind on being too passive when I should defend myself and then I start fuming for what I should have said... Or the other way around... I've been leading a good, balanced life, people haven't gotten to me, their meager attacks and immaturity have bounced off, I've been eating well, rest has been good but I haven't been making progress with my skills or concrete learning... There always seems to be something that I'm forgetting and that I'm vulnerable to. I feel like it'd be easier to be fine with myself if I weren't so vulnerable in the ways I'm not actively guarding... Is it that nothing is entering my reflexes?

You are unlikely to flunk out of college or fail in the workforce due to issues of intellectual skill.

Here's the thing though... I'm not as concerned about flunking college because of my developments... I'm afraid of flunking my life skills because of college daring to take any of my time and energy away.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2016, 01:56:44 AM by Cy »

Bicycle_B

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Re: Self-improvement burnout; college starting soon; not enough time?
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2016, 02:21:43 AM »
Most of your description is of emotional issues.  Professional psychologists have more expertise in those than I do.

It sounds like part of your pattern is to think there is an external solution to your worries.  You talk a lot about "getting hit" and "being on guard."  I doubt there is an external solution to this kind of thing.

Outside the emotions in your brain, life can be handled just fine with moderate effort and moderate skill, unless emotions interfere with normal functions of relating, working, and self-management. Our expertise here (if I may generalize) is mostly to point out that by keeping spending moderate, your ordinary work in the future will bring satisfying freedoms and rewards. 

To stay on this "ordinary" positive track, it sounds like consulting the psychologists regularly will be a lot better as a practical matter than not consulting them, even if they can't make all of the troubling thoughts go away.  No one else has done so yet either, right? I wouldn't give up on them unless you have an alternative that is proven to work better.  My guess is that if you don't stay in touch with them, you will have a significant chance of not being able to consistently do the basic relating, working and self-management.  This is based partly on your own post stating that you have trouble persisting in your improvements.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2016, 02:27:33 AM by Bicycle_B »

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Re: Self-improvement burnout; college starting soon; not enough time?
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2016, 02:37:13 AM »
It sounds to me as though there are two different pressures on you: internal and external, that may be interacting.  If I'm right that there are external pressures on you, demanding internal perfection of yourself is unlikely to be the answer.

I suggest you take a good look at the people in your life.  If their actions are toxic towards you, form a plan to deal with that.  The options are 1) get them out of your life, 2) change their behaviours towards you, and 3) change your attitude to their behaviours (water off a duck's back, etc).  The answer may be a mixture of the three for each toxic person (eg tell someone to butt out of a certain aspect of your life, and find a way to make it stick).

On the internal pressures I suggest 1) Don't be in a hurry: you are young and have your whole life ahead to get things done, 2) prioritise ruthlessly - concentrate on what is most important to you (not urgent, important) 3) recognise that no-one, including you and me, is perfect and that "good enough" is usually good enough for most areas of our lives.

Good luck.  I think you'll be fine.

LeRainDrop

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Re: Self-improvement burnout; college starting soon; not enough time?
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2016, 02:52:18 AM »
In addition to the prior advice, I highly recommend that you read Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns.  I myself read it after recommendation by many other members of the MMM forum.  The book seems sort of hokey at first, but the techniques described really do help to transform constant anxiety and stress into a more positive outlook.  There is an entire chapter devoted to overcoming perfectionism.  Side note that if your experiences with therapy have not been beneficial, then you have probably not found the right therapist for you.  You likely want someone who uses the cognitive behavioral therapy technique.  Many colleges have an on-campus therapy center that is totally free to students (since there's a small fee already included in everyone's standard student activities fee).  I would suggest you look into that, as you have nothing to lose.