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8 Books That Helped Me Overcome Burnout

… and get back to being passionate about my craft.  I am an investor, an entrepreneur, and a writer. Every day I get to work with amazing innovators and hear their vision for the world. I absolutely love what I do.   A few months ago, however, something unusual began to happen. It seemed as though […]

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… and get back to being passionate about my craft. 

I am an investor, an entrepreneur, and a writer. Every day I get to work with amazing innovators and hear their vision for the world. I absolutely love what I do.  

A few months ago, however, something unusual began to happen. It seemed as though nothing brought me joy. I found myself increasingly fatigued and irritated, unable to perform basic work-related tasks. My relationships began to suffer. The best way I can explain the feeling of going through my day is that it felt like I was moving through molasses. 

After speaking with a few friends and mentors, I realized I was suffering from ‘burnout’ and I was not alone. In fact, up to 85% of adults in the U.S. report symptoms of burnout, typically characterized by exhaustion, cynicism (like hating your job) and feelings of reduced professional ability. 

To combat my symptoms, I took a self-imposed 3 month sabbatical and tried to pick up some healthier habits, including diet and exercise. But there was one habit that was even more important – changing how to process information. I realized it was common for two people who receive the same external stimulus, to react differently – one with increased levels of stress and the other with increased performance. And so, I set out on a journey to find what caused these differences in thought process.

To share my findings, here are the 8 books that helped me rewire my brain and get excited to create again. 

1. The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer 

Widely regarded as the book to change your life, the Untethered Soul conveys one main lesson – separate you from the voice inside your head. Throughout the book, Singer teaches us to recognize the stressed out voice that creeps into our head (the one that is hurt, upset, jealous, etc.) and to practice letting it go. Do this exercise enough times, and you will be amazed at just how zen you will feel. 

2. The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer 

Yes, this one is also by Singer. Most aren’t aware that Singer was a high-powered businessman, in addition to being a spiritual leader and writer. What I like about this book is that it is relatable to all of the type-A overachievers out there. Through a series of real life anecdotes, Singer teaches us to wait for the right business (and life) opportunities, rather than forcing them through ambitious habits, and how to recognize those opportunities when they do come along. This book will make you believe that is possible to crush it in business and be spiritually tuned in at the same time. 

3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho 

This breathtaking adult fairy tale follows a sheppard-turned-explorer on his life’s quest. Even though the book is fiction and takes us to picturesque places while our hero seeks his treasure, it holds several lessons applicable to daily business struggles. The main takeaway is that we are all born with one true path, but somewhere along the way we get confused by societal expectations of what is practical and how things should be done. Those of us who have had the privilege to observe true leaders and visionaries recognize that they don’t follow a well-traveled path, but rather an inner calling only they understand.

4. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

This short and sweet little book gives us 4 simple lessons to follow both in our careers and our personal lives: be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best. This one should be re-read every year as a reminder how to process everyday interactions for the maximum positive result.

5. Attached by Adam Levin and Rachel S.F. Heller

This book takes a deep dive into attachment science to help us form better romantic relationships. What I found interesting is that a lot of the science applies to professional relationships as well. Ever sought your boss’ approval just to be left disappointed? This book will help you understand why you may overreact in work situations and how to view your work relationships through a healthier lens. 

6. Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh

For those of us who have trouble sitting still, this book allows you to meditate and read at the same time. Through a collection of personal anecdotes and stories, the author takes us on a journey of calming the mind and finding peace during everyday situations, like cooking, driving a car, or walking to work. Changing habits overnight is difficult, so I enjoyed this practical guide to incorporating meditation into everyday life.

7. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Widely acclaimed, Daring Greatly reminds us that vulnerability leads to stronger, healthier, and better professional relationships. Based on twelve years of research, Brown argues that vulnerability is not a weakness, but rather a display of courage, leading to greater empathy, innovation, and creativity. In our professional lives, it is only by daring to expose our work to external criticism that we may begin to improve ourselves. 

8. Sapiens by Yuval Harari

Sapiens teaches us about evolution, history, philosophy and so much more. But above all, Sapiens teaches us how to view the world and our role in it within a greater context. All too often, overachievers fixate on their failures, causing emotional distress and eventually leading to the aforementioned burnout. Sapiens is a useful reminder that we are here for only a limited time and that our achievements and failures must be read in the context of humanity as a whole. 

What are your favorite feel-good reads? Tweet me @tatianakoffman

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