How to Avoid Burnout
I've been working with a bunch of clients over the last six months who were heading for burnout. All of them were successful, intelligent, and highly regarded in their businesses.
They were also all in survival mode. Starting early, finishing late. Doubling down on their drive to achieve. Believing they could only be OK if they kept everyone happy - their clients, their bosses, their families, their friends.
When you’re living this way, day after day, it’s hard to see a way out. So, you keep meeting the never-ending demands. You keep chasing the next promotion. You keep thinking you’ll be OK when you… fly off for your summer holiday, pay down the mortgage, reach the pinnacle of your profession, see your kids safely off to uni. But until then, there’s no rest. You’ve got to keep working, working, working.
Of course, at the end of the day, you’re so knackered all you can do is collapse on the sofa. And then a different kind of over-doing it kicks in. You over-drink, over-eat, over-shop, over-think, over-stare at your phone. You might even get out of the house to over-exercise. Anything to distract yourself from the exhaustion of this repetitive cycle.
If so, let me reassure you that there is a way out of this. And it doesn’t necessarily mean jacking it all in and home-schooling your kids from a Campervan. (Unless that’s what you want, of course.)
What it does take is a different kind of leadership – self leadership.
And the first step to self-leadership is self-awareness.
You need to find the courage and curiosity to press pause and explore what’s really going on. Why are you doing this? What’s the end game? What are you trying to prove? Who are you trying to prove it to? When didn’t you feel like this? When’s the last time you felt joy?
If you’re up for it, take a few minutes to think about those questions. Then I’ll give you my take on things.
See you in two minutes.
If you’re still in survival mode – which I’d imagine you are – there’s zero chance you just stopped for a few minutes to ponder those questions.
It’s highly likely you didn’t even pause for breath. You don’t have time to stop and think. You just want answers, right?
Even if you did pause for thought, your rational mind possibly jumped in with things like,“What choice do I have?”, “You don’t get anywhere without hard work.” “I’m hardly the only one doing this. Everyone I know is knackered.”
As always, your rational mind sounds right. It’s just that in this situation what it’s telling you is not that helpful.
So, what’s really going on?
Here’s my take on things. Please bear in mind that I’m generalising here from my work with a range of clients, as well as my own experience and academic learning.
When we’re in survival mode, we’re operating from our childhood conditioning. This is a collection of rules and beliefs we internalised at a young age that are still very much alive in us to this day. The survival self believes that unless it achieves results and wins the right people’s approval, it’s not good enough. The main problem is that a lot of this is happening unconsciously, so you’re not aware of what’s really going on.
You think your survival self IS you.
What you’re not seeing is that there’s another part of you called the healthy self.
This has been there since you were born. From this place, your life looks entirely different.
You might still be in the same house, with the same family. You might even still be doing the same kind of work. But you have more resilience, clarity, curiosity, playfulness, creativity and compassion. You live more in the present moment, with knowledge of your innate self-worth. You often experience feelings of fulfilment and joy.
If this sounds a bit hard to believe, here’s what Kenny, a recent client, had to say:
“Six months ago, my mind felt like a runaway train when it came to work. Fast. Out of control. Heading for a crash. Andrew has been invaluable in putting me back in the driving seat.
What I valued most about our coaching is that it gave me a greater understanding of my own thinking. Now I know how to work with it, rather than against it. It already feels so much easier and a lot more fun.
If you want greater self-compassion, confidence and clarity about where you are heading and how to get there, work with Andrew.”
This is what it feels like when you make the switch from survival self to healthy self.
If you’re curious to find out more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org