Burnout is a tricky condition, it often develops undetected underneath the surface of what to the external observer may look like a successful and happy lifestyle. Burnout can grow and gain strength over years or even decades. The tricky part is that most of us don’t realize that we are building our own burnout structure one brick at a time.
And then one day you start feeling like you are slowly suffocating inside the lifestyle you have created. Or maybe you have your proverbial wake-up call in a form of a serious health issue, a panic attack or a significant personal event that suddenly makes you realize that you have been running inside the hamster wheel for all these years thinking that when you accomplish that one more thing in your career you would instantly feel happier. But you don’t …
Among my clients and friends who experienced severe burnout are doctors, teachers, lawyers, corporate executives, business owners, professors and many other driven professionals. On the outside they look accomplished, successful, calm and collected. But what we don’t often see is the price they pay for their amazing lifestyle and professional success.
Being a highly respected professionals, they also mastered the skills of overachieving, hustling, pushing, striving and overworking themselves on a daily basis. But the truth is that you can’t go on like this forever. There comes a time when your body just can’t sustain this lifestyle any longer and it will rebel against you in a form of depression, an autoimmune disorder, heart disease, relationship issues, weight gain, or a variety of other mental or physical conditions directly liked to stress and unbalanced lifestyle.
You don’t have to instantly quit your job or go on a long-term sabbatical to deal with your burnout (although some individuals found taking a break necessary). There are tools and strategies you can apply right away to start creating the work and life you love. Small but consistent improvements are the secret to building a healthy, happy and fulfilling lifestyle
Every change process starts with AWARENESS. You have to understand what’s not working and why. This is often a bit more complicated than it seems because many of our issues stem from our subconscious belief system (aka mindset). To uncover the true root cause of your behavioral patterns or to identify our self-sabotaging beliefs we may have to seek the help of a coach or a therapist.
Self-awareness is also key to getting in ALIGNMENT with who we really are and creating a lifestyle and workstyle that works for us. At this stage, many people realize that the true root cause of their burnout was living their lives based on other people’s expectations and definitions of success and happiness. The realization is liberating because it allows us to reprioritize and realign with our own dreams, goals and desires.
Once you gain the necessary awareness and identify how you can live more in alignment, you are ready to start making improvements by taking ACTION. At this point, you may benefit from reminding yourself how great you are at achieving your professional goals and managing complex projects at work, so you can apply the same skills and knowledge to create action plans for achieving your personal goals and dreams.
Transitioning from burnout to blossom isn’t an overnight process. It takes time, commitment, and the ability to be self-compassionate. But going through this process is necessary if we want to start living fully rather than merely surviving each day hoping that someday, somehow things will change.
And for those of you who are still on the fence and wonder if this whole journey is worth the effort, let me use a bit of a “mortality motivation” to help you shift your perspective. Based on the book by Bonnie Ware, the top two regrets of dying people are: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”, and “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”