Burning out?

Lately I have become fascinated by burnout. Why does it affect some so deeply and seem to evade others? And why is it affecting women more than men? Burn out is more than being tired. It is more progressive. Like a match ... the flame starts far from your fingers, but if you don't blow it out it will burn you... Three questions to help determine if you are on your way to burn out, or have already arrived.

  1. Are you regularly physically and emotionally exhausted? Do you feel a lack of energy and/or have trouble sleeping? Do you worry excessively? Feel more edgy? Feel sad or hopeless?

  2. Are you more cynical and detached than usual? Do you no longer feel joy from things that used to bring you joy? Are you less interested in socializing and are you feeling less connected to people than you once did? Are you more negative than usual? Do you see the glass as half empty?

  3. Are you feeling like you’re not contributing anything meaningful, where you once were? Do you feel a sense of ineffectiveness and that all of your hard work isn’t actually accomplishing anything?

If you answer yes to any of these, you are in very good company. Burnout happens more often to high achievers. In other words, You. Seekers keep seeking, sometimes to their own detriment. And the answer is not necessarily to leave your job. It may be, but the first step is to build a deep awareness of how you got yourself here. Because, you've heard the line, "Wherever you go, you take yourself with you." As Emilie Aries, author of Bossed Up shares, “When you’re burnt out, you often no longer see yourself as an agent of change in your own life. It feels like all your efforts and your choices no longer impact your outcomes.”

This is the heart of the problem: We need to be able to see ourselves as capable of creating necessary changes in our lives. And the more out of control we feel the more likely we'll burn out. Instead of playing whack a mole, we need to get you to play chess.

And it is more likely for women — who are often the primary juggler of hectic work lives, aging parents, partners, and possibly caring for children — to feel the brunt of burnout. But, it is also up to us to remember we have agency over ourselves. Just because we have been in charge of x, y and z, does mean we can continue to do so and maintain our own health

  • That means renegotiating at work if you feel you have too much asked of you.

  • It means saying “no” when necessary and not feeling bad about it.

  • It means asking for more help at home and in your family. Hiring others, delegating tasks, lowering your expectations of what order in the home looks like, and increasing your expectations of how others can contribute.

  • It means holding ourselves accountable to our own needs first. If your self care is limited to brushing your teeth and 10 minutes of quiet time in the car, it's time to up-level my friend.

You didn't burn out overnight and you won't get out of it overnight. But, if you do nothing to change, you are making a choice to whither on the vine. I will be offering ideas to get out of burn out over the next few weeks. But here is a teaser:

  1. Awareness - what thoughts and feelings are most common for you?

  2. Boundaries - with your time, your family, your team

  3. Overworking - what are you avoiding by always working? what are you trying to achieve?

  4. Control - what would giving up some control in your life look like? what would walking away from perfectionism look like? You can have power over your day/your life without gripping tightly to control. Promise.

  5. People Pleasing - what freedom could you feel if you stopped saying Yes to insure others like you?

  6. Engagement - the opposite of burnout

  7. Pleasure - when was the last time you experienced true pleasure? not the false pleasure of over eating, over drinking, over spending, over exercising, over facebooking. True, soul giving pleasure?

  8. Imposter Syndrome - one way ticket to burnout. Like a fast pass at Disney.

  9. Fear - What do you deeply fear? Losing your job? Losing your marriage? Having no money? Not being validated? Boredom? Embarrassment? Being out of control? Disappointing others? That you are not as talented as you think you?

Burnout comes at a high cost. It is costing you opportunities, health, deeply fulfilling relationships, sleep, promotions, and money. And, my guess is you don't want the memory of you (at work or at home) to be when you were in a state of burnout. There is another option. And you are fully capable of feeling engaged, energized, and in charge of your life. Promise.


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