The sun is shining and the summer waves are calling, but you’re stuck inside staring at a computer. All of that thrilling excitement and enthusiasm you had when you began this work seems to have vanished.
You’re so over it.
You shut your laptop and scribble a note for your door:
“Temporarily closed because I’m feeling bored and burned out. Be back someday.”
But if you were in Tahiti you could have saved some ink:
“Closed for fiu.”
Fiu (pronounced "few") is a word used in French Polynesia (the Pacific island chain encompassing Tahiti, Bora Bora, and about 115 others) to describe the feeling of being bored, fed up, burned out or tired. At the same time, there’s this underlying wish to just relax and get away from it all.
Wait, Jenna. You’re seriously telling me that people in Tahiti just want to get away from it all?! Where in the world do they get away to?
It’s real, people.
I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
Shops closed in the middle of the day in high tourist season
road construction sites sitting empty with lonely looking machinery
breakfast cafes that finally open at noon
Turns out, dwindling motivation is universal and affects us all at some point. The only real difference is that some cultures acknowledge (even celebrate!) it, and others … not so much.
But I’ve got things to do! I don’t have time for fiu!
There are two ways to move beyond your fiu. The first is definitely more fun, but sometimes the second is more necessary.
Go outside – Disconnect, get out in nature, get your body moving … do whatever it is that feeds your soul. It’s crying out for a refresher, and the inspiration you long for will be so much more accessible if you just. take. a. break.
Go inside - Double down and “breathe” through some more work. Tap into the bigger picture of why you’re doing it and how it fuels you, and remember that – just like other practices whose best effects are felt over time (yoga, running, meditation, cooking) – this is your practice now.
How do you know which to choose?
To borrow another and much more famous saying, “Know thyself.”
If you’re not quite there yet, don't worry: Life will inevitably help you along. (You can also speed up the self-discovery by working with a coach or therapist, taking risks, and engaging in mindfulness practices such as journaling, to name a few.)
In the meantime, here’s a tip:
Look back on what preceded your mental fatigue, and do the opposite.
If you’ve been working overtime, either with single focus or too many balls in the air, you probably need that refresher. Don’t guilt-out over it. Revel in it like a Polynésien français.
If you’ve been slowly slacking off OR if this is a part of a pattern OR if you just returned from a fiu-break and still don’t feel energized, it’s time to start asking yourself the big questions.
(What do I really want? How am I willing to grow to achieve it? Is this my intuition telling me to take another path, or a lens revealing my own resistance to happiness and success?)
I sincerely hope this post helps you get back to your happy place a little more quickly and shed some angst. When the self-doubt creeps in, remember that the ebbs and flows of motivation are part of the human experience.
And now if you’ll excuse me, the sun is shining, and my puppy and I are going for a hike.
Here’s to late summer fiu,