I know about heat. After all, I live in Phoenix, Arizona. Before I was born, my parents chose to move here from the East, and they did so in July. I believe the reason they stopped here in the desert is because they didn’t have enough gas to make it to the face of the sun. This past summer the temperature reached 120 degrees and it felt like I was sitting in a 500-degree oven while someone was blowing a hot hair dryer into my mouth. Rather than running, roadrunners were taking buses and lizards sizzled when they stretched out on rocks.
Although this is what we usually think about when the word “heat” is mentioned, there is another kind of heat that is vital if we are to accomplish goals, move ahead, continue to grow personally and professionally, and most importantly, just enjoy life; and I call it the flames of enthusiasm. It’s the kind of heat that fuels our creativity and keeps us from getting stuck in a rut. Conversely, it is this heat that also keeps us from experiencing burnout. It’s easy to lose that spark when we stay in the same place too long, or work isn’t going the way we expected, or we don’t feel like we are getting anywhere, and so on. Mainly, burnout is just that…proof that the fires of enthusiasm have flamed out.
Here’s the thing: if you’re still alive, you still have a purpose. Unless your chosen purpose is to be a speed bump or a door stop, it’s helpful to have some enthusiasm about what you’re doing. So how do we stir the ashes of burnout and fan the flames of enthusiasm?
• Embrace your creativity. Everyone can be creative, though many will say they are not. If you have an imagination, you are creative. Since creativity is essential to enthusiasm, step out of your comfort zone and try being innovative in whatever you are doing. Wake up dormant creativity by getting in touch with your inner child. The more successful you become, the more you need to remember to stop thinking like a grown-up and try new things. Don’t allow the adult in you to smother the child-like curiosity you need to keep enthusiasm alive. And don’t forget to laugh. A lot. If you think this makes you less professional, you are wrong. There is a reason why many very successful people attend expensive workshops to simply learn how to be more creative through play.
• Maintain an attitude of gratitude. Although the phrase may be overworked, the concept is definitely a worthy one. When you focus on what you don’t have, you overlook what you do have. How does feeling grateful for your blessings help make you more enthusiastic? For one thing, when you focus on your abilities, talents, friends, health, or anything positive in your life, you have a starting point. Rather than to take the good things in your life for granted, celebrate them. Gratitude is a positive feeling from which enthusiasm can grow.
• Fake it ’til you make it. Positivity and enthusiasm for life are habits. It is a matter of how we train our brains to think about things. When you memorize a song, the words get stuck in your head. In order to learn different words to that same tune, you have to repeat the new verses many times until they replace the old ones. The same concept applies to our attitudes. Sometimes you have to act enthusiastic until the feeling kicks in. It’s not about acting phony; it’s about knocking out those negative thoughts and replacing them with something more positive.
• Be reasonable and evolve. Nothing will squash your spirit like making unreasonable goals. You lose your momentum and your enthusiasm bites the dust. If you are excited about embarking on a fitness regimen and expect to have a whole new body in two weeks, you are setting yourself up for a big let-down. Let your expectations evolve and fuel them enthusiastically…with logical thinking. Remember that you are constantly evolving. Explore your opportunities. Imagining future possibilities will stoke the fire of your enthusiasm.
• Surround yourself with positive people. It’s not easy to remain enthusiastic about anything if you are with people who constantly try to shoot down your excitement. Don’t let anyone drag you down into the pit of despair. Sadly, there are those whose hobby is complaining, and they only feel comfortable if they have pity partners. Don’t go there. Even if you have negative trolls in one part of your life, make sure you also keep some joyful people around you.
• Make sure you keep moving forward with excited anticipation. Don’t keep looking back on past mistakes or failures. That gets you nowhere in a hurry. Remember that bubbling with enthusiasm doesn’t mean being agitated and impatient. Enthusiasm should keep you motivated, but also provide you with a sense of peace. Keep fanning the flames.