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Something’s Gotta Give

Reclaiming my Health and Happiness From the Brink of Burnout

Newsflash: I’m not super-human.

I know, it was shocking to me too, but I’m realizing that the pace I’ve kept for the past 5-years is not sustainable. I know I’m late to the party on this one. For years concerned clients, friends and family have encouraged me to slow down and make sure I’m not “doing too much.”

But I always thought I had a great handle on things. And I did. But there was a cost. And most recently it caught up with me.

When the World Health Organization announced that they were classifying “Burn-Out” as an “Occupational Phenomenon” I thought exploring it and doing an article on it seemed like a good idea. It also seemed timely as I was beginning to recognize that I wasn’t managing my physical and mental stress well. My body had “taken me down” with an injury and nasty bug just days before an upcoming 1/2. I was more forgetful and fatigued. Schedule mix-ups and task slip ups were becoming more frequent than normal for me. I was snappier – especially with my family (I hate admitting it, but it’s true). My “handle” on things was slipping. Quickly.

So I started exploring stress, burnout and the differences between and I realized I was teetering much closer to the edge of burnout than I’m comfortable with. This realization was the final piece of the puzzle I needed to fully recognize that something had to change – not in a year or 5…but NOW.

This change has been percolating for at least a month, if not a year. I remember friends prodding me as I prepared to launch my book last fall…after the book releases will you take some time off (please!)? My response was always, YES! I have full intentions to build my blanket fort in December and chillax for as long as I need. But December came and went and I didn’t build my blanket fort…

“I don’t need it,” I said.

“I’m good,” I said.

“I actually feel really energized and engaged,” said STRESS.

Mmmm. Stress, you seductive siren.

This past year has been absolutely extraordinary. But it’s also been “full.” At least that’s what i’ve been saying.  The word busy because it has a bad rap – busy = stress. But I’m not stressed, right? I’m energized and engaged – passionate and excited about the work I’m doing – I feel phenomenal.

Let’s be honest, for a hot minute. It’s been busy. And if I’m being HONEST (ughhh)…it’s been busy for 5 years.

5 years ago I launched Super You in the midst of grappling with 2 surgeries for ovarian cysts. I took the hiccups in stride and business grew. I was doing what I loved – yay! Over the past 5 years I’ve run over twenty 12-16 week running clinics, 100’s of classes, 2 12-week health programs and a retreat.  I’ve worked with 100’s of private clients and managed multiple facebook groups (for clinics, classes and programs). I’ve organized and run 3 annual fundraisers, and developed myself as a fitness leader in over 300 hours professional development (from TRX to Yoga to Self-Compassion). I’ve presented at conferences, corporate work-places and in schools. I self-published my first book and launched an online Studio. All the while I’ve been raising two active boys and doing my best to maintain quality relationships with my husband, friends and family.

I’ve been going full tilt for months, if not years. And frankly, something’s got to give. And it can’t be my health and vitality. Because if I don’t practice what I preach I’m a hypocrite and I’m wildly out of integrity. And frankly that feels shitty.

I write this and am cognizant that I need to say: I’m so freaking fortunate. I pinch myself daily because I feel so blessed to do what I do and call it a “job.” I’m so fucking proud of the work I do and what I’ve been able to accomplish in 5 years. And…

And…as a helper, a perfectionist and passionate person I know that my story is not unique.

We give, and give, and give until we simply cannot.

But that isn’t us using our unique gifts and talents wisely. We can’t pour from an empty cup. FULL STOP.

I share this because I know countless badass entrepreneurs and hard-working people who will resonate with this.

My hope is that in sharing this you too might pause (before you hit the wall) and take a moment to take stock of what you’re doing, what’s important and how you can best move forward – with your health and vitality in hand.

My Plan:

I even resist calling it that, but at it’s core that’s what it is. And I’m sharing it with you so I can be more accountable to sticking with it. Because I know me. My default mode is “go full tilt until you quit,” kind of like a puppy. But I’m not a puppy, I’m a 40-year old woman.

So yeah, my plan:

  1. I’m setting clear boundaries.  I’m choosing to set some better boundaries around what work and life look like – in a symbiotic relationship. I’m choosing to be very selective about the work I dedicate to – and the work I respectfully decline. The question I’ll be using to guide this is one from the fabulous Brene Brown (gawd I adore her): “Does it serve the work? Me? My heart?”
  2. I’m taking a hard look at what I’m doing. There may be things I will give up (even if it’s just a short term break) to ensure I’m honouring my health, vitality and happiness. And that’s ok. I’m using this filter:
    • Does it bring me joy?
    • Does it use my gifts to their fullest potential?
    • Does it make financial sense? Am I being fairly compensated for the hours that go into this?
  3. I’m taking time off. I was asked recently by a wise friend and guide, “when’s the last time you took time off, and didn’t work – like not even checked social media or email?” SILENCE. Oh. That long. Yeah, not even a weekend. Oh boy. I’ve got work here people. Here’s where I’m starting:
    • Each day at lunch-time I’m resting after I eat. Even if it’s 5-minutes in the hammock. Kinda like meditation – every minute counts.
    • I’m dedicating weekends as email free. I will get back to you on Monday. Fitness and health (in my world) aren’t life and death – respectfully, my family comes first.
    • This summer I’m starting by taking time off. Actual time off. I haven’t figured out the logistics or duration but it will at least be one long weekend where I’m 100% off-grid.
    • In December the fam jam and I are going to Maui. I will have off-grid time during that window too. I’ll be busy making memories. I hope you will be too.
  4. I’m trusting the unfolding of my life and the creative divine. I know it sounds like I swallowed a hippie – but it’s my truth. I trust that I’m exactly where I need to be. My business is exactly where it needs to be. The creative projects I have percolating will develop as they are meant to – messy and magically as they’re meant to.
  5. I’m accepting help. When someone asks, “what can I do?” my response will NOT be “oh, nothing, I’ve got this.” If I can’t think of anything in the moment, I’ll graciously thank them and tell them I’ll get back to them. Extra hands are always beneficial. Feel free to call me on my over-productive bullshit if you catch me saying no. I have big dreams, and big plans. I have a vision for changing the way we view our bodies, health and fitness. And – I don’t have to go it alone. I can’t. Radical change requires others to join the conversation and offer their hand. I will practice taking it when offered.
  6. I’m practicing presence. I’m using the mantra “Wherever you are, be there.” When I’m with you – I’m with you. All in. Not thinking about what’s next on the schedule or what I “should” be doing – but truly 100% present. If I seem distracted, call me on it. It’s a practice and one I’m committed to.

Whoa. That feels like a lot. But just like everything I advise I’m leaning in. And I’ll be embracing this shift as a practice. Because change doesn’t happen overnight. It happens through consistent mindful commitment to staying in the practice. Falling away and then returning, again, and again, and again.

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