I’ve been reading a lot about burnout lately, in fact, I was recently asked for my opinion on it and, well, I’ve got one.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and say burnout is something most people experience at some point in their lives. For some, like the millennials that are being highlighted in a lot of the pieces I’m reading, it’s happening earlier in their lives. For others, like myself and some of the people I know, it hit us later on, after we worked for decades at high-pressure jobs, or ran businesses and had kids.
I will say this — no matter when you experience it, burnout is a thing. The good news is that there are ways to work through it. I’m proof of that.
My experience with burnout happened when I was 40 years old, working in a corporate job, managing a marriage, two kids, and all the things that come with it. Bills, mortgages, car payments, food buying and preparing, schlepping kids. I mean, I could go on and on. Life can get hard if you’re not managing it the right way, and back then, I was doing my best to barely hold it together.
I can remember feeling paralyzed by the responsibilities that I had to face every day. I would look at my ever growing to-do list and feel anxiety about all the things still left to cross off. I would lay awake at night thinking about how to make it easier and struggling to find the answer. I would get up in the mornings and go through the motions — work, kids, clean up, repeat. All with my back getting heavier from everything else that was piling up.
How was I supposed to be taking care of all these things and myself at the same time? How was I supposed to get it all done in a respectable amount of time? How was I supposed to not let anything fall through the cracks? To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. It seemed impossible — and yet, I was stellar at making it all look doable.
And then I broke. On my 13th wedding anniversary in 2014.
So much for celebrating! It was a regular day in the middle of the week that year, so my husband and I were not going to be celebrating that evening. By the time he got home from work, the kids were crying from fighting (and subsequently getting in trouble). Dinner had been made, consumed, and cleaned up. I was still in my work clothes putting laundry away. It was a typical day in our house. Loud and chaotic with me doing all the things. When my husband walked into the bedroom where I was hanging up clothes, he kissed me and said, “Happy anniversary, your flowers are on the table.”
That’s when I broke.
I started to sob, not cry, sob uncontrollably. I sat on the ground in our bedroom and said, “I can’t do this anymore. I can’t hold it together and make believe it’s all fine. I’m burnt out. I need help.”
Now, if you know my husband in real life, you know one of his least favorite things is to see me cry. He will avoid it at all costs, therefore he immediately started asking what I needed and how he could help. We had to have a conversation about how I was feeling overwhelmed with being responsible for all the things, and how it was becoming too much.
I have since learned that these types of conversations are not uncommon in most households. In fact, I’m predicting they happen more often than we think. Or not, and that can potentially lead down a very long, dark road.
That night was not only the beginning of my personal transformational journey, it was the beginning of our family’s as well.
After several heart-to-heart discussions with my husband and kids, I realized that I was burnt out in a few different areas of my life. I was unhappy at work for a lot of different reasons. I was overwhelmed with my responsibilities at home, and I was failing in the self-care department. I needed change to happen in a major way and I needed it ASAP.
And that’s exactly what I did. I changed.
We distributed responsibilities at home allowing for more family time together and for more personal time for ourselves. And, more importantly, I quit my job. With the support of my husband and kids, I jumped without a parachute into the unknown, and it was the best thing I could’ve done.
After I quit I had no idea what I was going to do. I knew I didn’t want another high pressure “job.” I had so many ideas and no way to corral all of them until I turned to a career coach, and she changed my life. After spending months spinning my wheels, taking self-assessment quizzes, and researching “jobs” I knew in my heart and my gut that I didn’t want, I needed guidance.
After working with her I realized that I wanted to do more. I wanted to help others in a bigger way. I wanted to contribute to society and the world on a higher level. I wanted to help people avoid what I had just spent years going through. I wanted to be a coach. And that’s exactly what I did.
It helps that I’m an empath. That I can relate to and feel the emotions of the people I support. It helps that I’ve been in similar situations. It helps that I can understand completely their feelings, wants and needs. And it’s amazing that I have the honor of helping them break through their blocks, their overwhelm and their burnout.
You see, in the end we all have a choice. We can sit and wallow and allow more exhaustion, stress and anxiety to take us over, or we can choose to do something about it. I chose to do something, and along the way I learned that there are tools and people available to help anyone out there do the same.
Burnout is a thing. It exists on so many levels. Whether it’s in your job, your relationships, your lack of self care or your parenting. It’s real, and it can be addressed. Hell, it can be overcome if you commit to making the necessary changes and doing the work. I’m proof of that.
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