I saw a friend post an image today that said, “January was a tough year, but we made it,” and I have never felt something so deeply in my soul.
Another friend posted openly and honestly about his experience with burnout in previous years and opened the floodgates for a lot of us to chime in. He and I have discussed this previously, but I’ve been hesitant to share any of my own experiences with burnout.
It’s hard. Everyone wants to be that superhero who can always say yes, who can always help one more person, who can always take on one more project. But everyone has a breaking point. Everyone. And if we press and press and press, sooner or later, we’re going to find it.
The tricky part is that it’s sneaky. Sometimes, there is a moment of total collapse where you know without a doubt you’ve gone a mile too far, but more often, you just feel sapped. Your energy is low. You lack enthusiasm. You just don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. Things that you used to get excited about and made you feel eager just don’t appeal. And it’s just a spiral from there until it gets so bad you can’t ignore it anymore.
I’ve learned (the hard way) to recognize the symptoms, and to fight like hell for my mental space when I feel another burn coming. I’m not always the best at it, as evidenced by how much I got punched in the chest by my friend’s sentiment about January, but I know how to deliberately protect my mental space. My think-space, if you will.
January was a wakeup call for me to work on reconstructing those mental boundaries and reclaiming my think-space. I’m going to work through a little bit of those thoughts here.
How to Start | Pace Yourself
The first step to fixing your problem is usually admitting that you have one. And in our case, we’ve done that by admitting we need to carve out some more space to think and breathe and be in our lives.
Of course, as the do-anything take-on-anything challengers that we are, we want to get after it. Right?
That’s great, but you can’t fight burn-out with burn-out. Just like you wouldn’t try to clean, organize, and declutter your entire house in a day, you shouldn’t try to clean, organize, and declutter your thinking space in a day, either. You can’t do all this on top of everything else you’re trying to wrangle.
So, to start, just commit to one thing: pacing yourself.
That’s all. Commit to tackling this problem of reclaiming your balance and setting boundaries in your life one day at a time over the next 28 days, to deliberately finding and addressing each of the stressors in your life one at a time. We’ll make space for things that are important and learn to put aside those that aren’t. One at a time, one day at a time.
Picking a place to get started and deliberately getting after it? That’s Day 2.
No, that’s not being lazy, that’s not procrastinating, that’s not sub-optimizing. It’s deliberate. Trust me on this.
I’ll see you tomorrow for Day 2.