OntheGoAthlete #4 — The cycle of recovery

How to stay energized and avoid burnout

Hey — Edgar here.

It’s been a while as you can tell! Apologies for the radio silence. Last month, I was promoted to Growth Lead, Startups at On Deck! I’ve been working at On Deck for 6 months now and I’m super grateful for the opportunity to help more founders get access to our community-driven programs and world-class network.

But the past few months also came with challenges. Transitioning from associate to lead comes with more responsibility, larger fires to fight and a shift in priorities.

As a result, I had to put a pause on the newsletter for the last few weeks. I also took some much needed time off and I’m excited to pick things up again on our new bi-weekly schedule. 

On that note, let’s dive into this week’s edition of the OntheGoAthlete newsletter! In this issue, we’ll dive into methods for recovery and how to stay energized while avoiding burnout.

Analogies to the Offseason

Let’s start off by looking at rest from an athlete’s perspective. A typical year as an athlete is divided into three periods: the regular season, the playoffs and the off-season. Most people think success is determined in the regular season or the playoffs — it's where stats are recorded, highlights happen and players are celebrated.

But the real money is made in the off-season. When players rest, work on their skills, develop their bodies and come back ready to execute. The same applies in the workplace.

Nowadays, we live in an always-on culture. Instagram influencers preach #hustlehard, #grinddontstop and countless other trends centered around working long hours and experiencing short term pain for long term gain.

The truth is, these trends put you straight on the road to burnout. At a certain point, the late nights and early mornings add up and you crash. 

The key to overcoming this is establishing sustainable routines, scheduling consistent time off and practicing habits that allow you to recharge on a regular basis. But everything starts from understanding your own energy. So let’s break it down.

Understanding Energy

The first step to recharging effectively is understanding what type of energy you need to restock. I divide energy into 4 types:

  1. Physical

  2. Mental

  3. Emotional

  4. Spiritual

As fatigue in each area produces different symptoms, it's important to understand how to diagnose each so you take the right action that helps you recharge proactively, rather than waiting until things get worse.

Physical Fatigue

Physical fatigue is the most commonly diagnosed form of energy deficit. Usually, you’ll start to feel sluggish, tired and slow.

Mental Fatigue

Mental fatigue comes from having a lot on your mind. It might surface as feeling stressed, developing headaches or inability to concentrate on one task due to overwhelm.

Emotional Fatigue

Emotional fatigue shows up due to a lack or surplus of social interactions with people we love. This is shown through snappy behaviour, being short with people, or a general feeling of irritation.

Spiritual Fatigue

Spiritual fatigue is the least commonly diagnosed form of energy. It generally comes from lack of alignment, either with your internal motivators like your purpose or your overall feeling of connection with a higher power. 

Once you’ve diagnosed your energy deficit, you can pair it with an activity that helps you recover. 

Restful Activities

Restful activities are different for everyone, regardless of the type of energy deficit you might have.

One helpful question to figure this out is:

  • When, where or during what activity do you feel most at peace?

For me, it's being on a basketball court, alone. Something about the ball swishing through the net creates an irreplaceable sense of serenity.

But different activities have different purposes. I find choosing matching one activity for each type of energy deficit gives you the best toolkit to recharge, regardless of your situation.

My top 4 are:

  1. Basketball/weights/running for physical energy

  2. Writing/creative work for mental energy

  3. Time with loved ones for emotional energy

  4. Church/prayer/meditation for spiritual energy

The following table contains a list of solutions you can reference for each type of deficit.

Putting it into Practice

Once you’ve identified the activities that give you energy, the next step is scheduling them regularly.

Bestselling author and podcast host, Jay Shetty recommends introducing a cadence of breaks on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis to reduce the intensity of the typical work week while increasing overall productivity.

Here are some examples of breaks you can implement in your work schedule:

  • A 5 min break between meetings to walk, get water or stretch

  • A 20min walk in the afternoon after a long batch of deep work or meetings

  • A weekend detox where you spend time doing a task that give you energy

  • A quarterly week off where you travel with a friend or loved one

The key is to schedule these breaks as “minimums”, non-negotiable periods that can’t be moved regardless of what happens at work. Each break will help you return to work refreshed and help you accomplish more over the long run by reducing the volatility that usually comes with burnout.

Next Steps

I’ll end with this. Learning how to rest effectively is equally as important to achieving your goals as putting in the work. So next time you’re taking a break, don’t feel guilty. Know that you're in your own mini-offseason and giving yourself the space to grow.

Tools & Resources

Knowing how to manage your energy effectively can transform your life. The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz breaks down the concept of energy management and why it's actually more important than time management for high performers.

Check out the Book

Quote of the Week

“ It’s so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis.”

- James Clear

That’s it for this week! Your feedback is always welcome, and if there’s a topic you want to see, just let me know! Hit reply or shoot me a DM on Twitter @iamedgarbrown to get in touch.

Trust the process,