6 laws for making sure you don’t get burned out (which will also help you find your spark)
Mastery Den, Tuesday Edition, 4-min read.
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It can feel like just a ‘meh.’
But burnout can also feel like strong fatigue, frustration or even depression.
I’ve experienced ‘burnout’ in various forms, and it sucks. Especially when deep down you know you want to produce. You know you need to pay for those bills. But it’s like you slammed against a wall, and nothing from within is coming to your aid.
This can happen many times in your career if you aren’t careful, and it will have lasting effects on your health.
Here are some ideas I picked up over the 17 years working for myself that helped me:
Understand how burnout is 98% mental.
Don’t confuse your negative thoughts with reality.
The two are not the same. When we repeatedly believe unpleasant or resistant thoughts about our reality, we will feel the weight of these thoughts. And it’s often that weight -- that sense of mental overwhelm -- that we experience as burnout.
Note that this is not to say that burnout isn’t a thing. It is.
But YOU created most of it.
This means you have the power to ease the tension by redirecting your thoughts to more positive things and taking action.
Acknowledge your wins (even small ones).
Given much of burnout is rooted in how we think, it should come as no surprise that we’ll feel bad if we train ourselves only to notice what isn’t working.
Few take note of their successes, but doing this at least once in a while will make all the difference.
You must train yourself to notice and acknowledge your wins, no matter how small.
This will also attract more success into your day. How?
Who do you think enjoys more success - he who focuses on his losses or keeps his eye on what’s working?
Understand the difference between being ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘overloaded.’
There is a difference.
When we’re overloaded, we have taken on so many things that we can’t handle them all effectively. Multi-tasking well is a myth (sorry, ladies).
Overwhelm is purely mental. It’s when we allow thoughts to cycle rapidly through our minds without taking a moment to let go.
We can confuse the two, thinking our lives are overloaded when, in reality, we’re just overthinking (overwhelmed).
If you can differentiate between the two, you’ll know whether your priority should be to do less or otherwise.
As I’ve said before:
If you’re overloaded, do less.
If you’re overwhelmed, think less.
Never stop improving.
You might be king of the hill right now, enjoying win after win after win.
Or you may be continually struggling with loss.
Either way, it could be that you aren’t improving. You do the same thing over and over because it’s safe. And in this comfort zone, you don’t improve. This will eat you inside.
A happy human is a growing human.
If you sense you aren’t improving, even if it’s 0.005% per day, figure out what you need to do. This needn’t necessarily mean doing more.
It could be a gentle tweak in your approach.
Don’t confuse withdrawal with burnout.
Several months ago, I quit caffeine.
In the following months, I felt unmotivated and was highly unproductive. I could have easily self-diagnosed with burnout or depression, but I knew what was happening in my body.
I knew to expect long withdrawals, having come off a drug upon which I had become dependent.
The same applies to the absence of the nutrition you need.
We can feel lethargic and low if we’ve been denying something our body needs. Maybe it’s going outside and getting sunlight.
Perhaps it’s eating proper, non-processed food - a gift from the gods.
Don’t confuse a physical imbalance with burnout.
Don’t stop learning.
I’m convinced a substantial part of burnout is rooted in curtailed learning.
We either think we know all we need to know or fail to prioritise learning new things.
Whatever field you’re in, you will stagnate and grind to a halt if you are not honing your craft and growing in your mastery of it.
The only way to grow like this is to remain open, be willing to learn, and actively learn.
I’d also hazard that those who don’t learn and merely DO have hardened their personality to the degree they develop a form of depression.
You must stay open — and this requires a healthy dose of humility.
Thanks for reading.
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