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Article > How to Stop Spinning Your Wheels


Article kindly provided by Duane Alley

This article is part 2 in Duanes series on Burnout. You can read part 1 HERE


Burnout Cause #2: Lack of Progress

There’s a reason that a hamster running on a wheel inside a mesh cage has become western civilization’s classic icon of a wasted, purposeless life.

Who wants to work so hard, day after day, just to remain in the same place?

Unfortunately, this is how a lot of people feel about their lives: That they work and work and work – never making any progress or moving any closer to their dreams.

And that’s a sure-fire recipe for burnout.

To have a fulfilling life, or month, or even day, you need to have goals and have a sense of making progress towards them. (I’ll cover goals and goal-achievement in another future article, but for now let’s talk about the importance of progress)

It’s simple:

If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, you WILL burn out, just as a motor straining against an immovable object will eventually give out.

Humans are meant to have a purpose, a goal, a destination. Wandering around “aimlessly” is incredibly frustrating for exactly what it is – “aimless”. There is no direction or perceived outcome.

In life, you need direction and you need to feel like you’re moving that way. If you feel frustrated, like you’re banging your head against a brick wall, or just pained at the thought of spending another day of your life doing the same thing and getting nowhere because of it, then you may be suffering burnout from the lack of progress in your life.

At my program, The Inner Game of Everything I talk about “The Inner Game of Full-Fill-Ment” and one of the 6 core elements of that is “Contribution”. Most people read this and immediately jump to contributing to a charitable cause or your spiritual inspiration. While those things are very important to many people, it’s not what I’m talking about there or in this article. I’m talking about Contribution towards a goal, outcome or achievement. One of the 6 paths for us to truly feel full-filled in our lives is to ensure we feel we are Contributing toward an achievement we have chosen… otherwise the wheel spinning can be deafening.

One simple solution is to just quit doing the thing you’re doing that you’re not getting anywhere on – get off the hamster wheel, walk away from the dead-end job, or give up on whatever goal you were aiming for. If that works, great! You can just quit wandering around aimlessly and just sit down where you are without any goals, dreams or vision and then you won’t have to worry about feeling you aren’t moving toward it…

Not my favourite option and not one that works for very long…so…

But, if that’s not a viable option, you’ll be interested in reading the suggestions in the next section on tracking and celebrating small victories.

Answer #2: Track and Celebrate Small Successes

To fight burnout that comes from frustration at lack of movement, you must have a sense of making progress. Depending on your exact goal, how you measure that progress will vary. But it’s essential for your mental well-being for you to be able to look back at your day and say, “Yes! I accomplished this!”

Tracking progress could be as simple as having a daily list of things to do and crossing them off, knowing that the day’s list rolls up into your larger goals. Or you may want a more firm measurement, like km’s traveled, dollars earned, calls made, kilos lost. Obviously, some goals are easier to track than others, but overall, you should know where you’re going and how close you are to achieving them.

Let’s say you want to get a promotion… You sit down with your supervisor and determine that in order to make it to the next level, you need to get some more training in project management, you need to demonstrate leadership ability and you need to be more diligent about submitting your monthly reports in the required format. Booyah! You’ve got a ready-made checklist of items to tackle.

But what if your goal is more abstract, like making your wedding photography business your day job?

You can still break it down into actionable chunks. What do you have to do before you can quit? Make enough money to replace your income, or $50,000. What do you have to do to earn $50,000? You need to shoot 25 weddings this year. How many couples will you need to get in touch with before you get 25 customers? You know it’s about 10 go-sees for each booked appointment, so you will need to talk to 250 customers. Booyah! There’s your progress chart.

Making progress is the first step; tracking that progress is essential, too.

Some people are very visual and like to see at a glance on a chart or graph what they’ve accomplished. Others find it sufficient to look back at their calendar or old to-do lists and see what they’ve done. Still others like to monitor their bank balance on a daily basis. Whatever works for you, find a way to link your progress to your goal. When you see yourself making strides forward, no matter how small, you’ll see that the end is closer every day.

One final word of advice: Celebrate your progress! Whether it’s five KG’s lost, 100 pages written on your new book, or ten new sales calls – take a moment to enjoy the achievement. Reflecting on how far you’ve come will make success that much sweeter.



So here’s your bit:

What goal have you got “out there” right now? (and if you don’t have one, what can you have?)

Break it down into the targeted achievements that will add up to or lead you to your bigger victory

Then break each of those down to the objectives or actions that will see them done.

Set in place rewards and celebrations along the way for each of these objectives or actions.

Then START doing what you planned, recognizing you ARE doing something and CELEBRATE what you are accomplishing and achieving.



If you have any questions about this article or the exercises, please contact my office at

Green Lights and Full Cups everyday




Duane Alley


About the Author

Duane Alley
Speaker | Trainer | Author | Coach

Duane Alley spent the first 15 years of his professional life working with some of the biggest and fastest growing retail and franchise businesses in the country; he then spent 5 years as Head Trainer & Coach for one of the biggest Personal Development companies on the planet.

He has combined his extensive experience from the business world in delivering real world results with his success and study of personal development, rapid human change and shifting consciousness.

As a Master Trainer, Author, Speaker and Performance Coach he now works with businesses and entrepreneurs quickly and easily improve their businesses and make more money and with individuals, couples and families to make simple changes and take small steps to live better lives day by day.



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