As I sat in my last staff meeting on my last day of work, I was experiencing a mixture of emotions. Joy to move into a new adventure. Sadness to no longer be engaged with the people and organization I had been with for 26 years. As the meeting wore on, I experienced another unexpected feeling in my body; a deep weariness in my bones, clammy skin, and a sudden loss of almost all energy. A fun good-bye event was planned for the afternoon, but I felt worse by the minute. Mustering all my strength and resolve, I managed to stay at my celebration for 15 minutes and then somehow got myself home. There I collapsed into bed and did little else for the next three days. What a way to begin my “new season!”
I came to realize that my body simply responded to how I had lived the past several years; stressed by a job that my identity was wrapped around. At the prospect of change, my body said loud and clear, “You’re killing me!” I was experiencing classic burnout.
What about you, busy person? Can’t seem to relax or stop working or thinking about work? You might be headed toward burnout. I encourage you to examine your life for these symptoms:
- Constant fatigue, exhausted at the end of the day and week.
- Low energy, can’t seem to get on top of your game.
- Foggy thinking, loss of concentration.
- Anxiety and/or depression.
- Always feeling busy, like you never turn the engine off.
- Disrupted sleep patterns or insomnia.
- Frequent headaches.
- Neck, shoulder, or back ache.
- Loss of appetite.
- Read more here.
…my body said loud and clear, “You’re killing me!”
Are you hoping a vacation will solve your problem? It is highly unlikely. Vacations are great and even essential, but cannot remedy running your life into the ground. How long after a vacation before you are back “all on” and feeling the grind wearing you down? For many it’s within one or two weeks.
You need a lifestyle change to enjoy a full, healthy, and rested life. And the reality is this: you will actually accomplish more from a well-lived life than from a stress-filled, try to do everything pace.
I have some suggestions for helping you avoid burnout and live your ideal life.
Create a Life Map that guides your choices and decisions. I use a Life Map tool with many clients who are passionate about what they do for work, but also passionate about experiencing fuller life in every area. Assessing your life and mapping out where you want it to go is fundamental to producing lasting change. Here is a free resource to assess areas of your life to get started.
Establish and live in boundaries– Think of boundaries as gates that keep what matters most to you inside and everything else out. Work boundaries may include how many hours you work a day, a week, what time of day you stop working, what days you take off (no work). Implementing rhythms for rest and recreation should also be a part of this. Unplug from work through no computer or phone hours or days, and then plug into an activity that is rejuvenating and re-creative.
Design Your Ideal Week – Blocking time is an effective way to stay focused and become more effective in all areas of life. Imagine saving 5 or more hours a week because you gave adequate attention to the right things. Effectiveness is doing the right things. Here is an example of designing your ideal week.
Practice Essentialism– The book that influenced my wife and I the most in 2016 was, Essentialism, by Greg McKeown. In a world of too many options and choices we need a grid for choosing what is best. I highly recommend this book to help you define what is essential for you.
We are all a work in progress and have to pursue living well. The question is this, is life running you or are you in charge of what life you will live?