I’m reading this great book on burnout right now. It’s a place I know intimately, as do most of us in the A-type club. Ha! Our ability to commit to things, work hard and get a lot done, can be our undoing.
There was one passage in the book that I really liked and wanted to share with you.
“Many who experience BurnOut aren’t always in a miserable career. I find most people equate BurnOut with a bad job. In my case, I loved my business and the people within and around it. This fact can make BurnOut even more uncomfortable, especially when you’ve taken on the persona of super hero impervious to work kryptonite. A five-letter word pops up: shame. You ask yourself, I’ve got it good, how could I be burnt out? It doesn’t make sense. What’s wrong with me? Am I ungrateful?”
“In order to burnout, you first have to have a burning passion.”
This really resonated with me because there was a time when I was seeing entirely too many patients. I LOVED my job but I’d come home, lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling for 20min just to decompress. I couldn’t handle sound, music or tv or any outside input, that just overloaded my system. I had stomach pain, difficulty sleeping and my eye twitched more days than not.
This is a recipe for burnout! Being so passionate about something that you give too much of yourself until there is nothing left to give. It leaves us all in a bad place. Do you know what else this reminds me of? Trying to be a good mother. I have to be especially careful with giving too much at work now because I need to be able to handle the demands at home. There is no quiet time to stare at the ceiling and decompress! (No one ever said kids are easy. LOL!)
Maybe you’re taking care of older loved ones or helping out friends? The resulting overload still equals the same thing = burnout.
Kids are such a wonderful source of love and passion, but they also require time, attention and a whole heck of a lot of effort.
We all need some me time and we need it without feeling guilty. Easier said than done sometimes as a mom. I struggle with guilt and I know other moms do too. When the irrational side of my brain starts to feel guilty about something, I recognize the feeling, acknowledge it and then remind that irrational side that I’m doing a good job and I need to let it go. Sometimes we can’t control what we feel. The guilt or shame just pops up BUT we can control how we react to it!
Do we take it in and make it part of us, dragging us into the dark hole of stress or do we acknowledge it and let it float away? Your reaction to your feelings is what matters most. Just like negative people that we don’t want to give the time of day. Try to do the same thing with those negative thoughts.
I find guilt and shame often pop up as questions…I often ask myself, why do I need a break from my kids? Shouldn’t I want to spend all my time with them? What if I’m not giving them enough of me?
These sound suspiciously like the questions Elea mentioned in her book about work burnout. How can we feel burnout toward something we love?
So, whether you’re someone who works with people or someone who has kids or, someone who’s getting it from all sides, I want to share what’s helped me, a recovering workaholic guilt feeler to stay away from that nasty thing known as burnout and experience true happiness most days.
Setting boundaries feels impossible at first, but it gets easier over time and in the end, everyone wins because you can keep giving for the long haul instead of burning out.
Here are a few examples of things I’ve put in place over the years. Hopefully, it will help spur some ideas to help you with boundaries that will make your life a happier place.
Over the years, I’ve come up with several work boundaries that help me stay in the game.
I don’t give out my phone number, refuse to coach someone via email or messenger and make sure I schedule time for my own workouts.
These seem simple but setting up those initial work boundaries can be so hard.
Once boundaries are in place, you get better at enforcing them. Ever get mad at a client because they are asking too much of you and not respecting your time? That’s not their fault. It’s yours for not making your boundaries clear. Think about the things that make you feel completely worn out, frustrated or angry and think about a great boundary that would help alleviate that stress. You may make a few clients upset in the beginning when you start enforcing them, but it’s well worth it for your happiness!
What boundaries can you put in place to help make you love your job more and want to stay in it for the long haul?
Clients will always ask for things when they don’t know where your boundaries are. It never hurts to ask right? It’s just up to you to fully establish and stick to those boundaries to not end up becoming burned out and resentful.
Quiet time! It’s the best thing ever for the little ones (and bigger ones) that don’t nap.
I know what you’re thinking, my kid would never stay in their room. And, yes, in the beginning, it was hard. I’m not about to pretend to give out parenting advice, but we stuck to it, fought the battles and made it happen. It was worth it! Now, she loves quiet time and we get some much-needed adult only downtime to relax, read or do something fun.
In case you’re in the middle of a nap dropping situation and the war zone is real, rest assured that making quiet time happen is backed by research to benefit the child in the long run.
Kids being able to play on their own, use their imagination and creative thought process is a great skill to have for life but it is a skill. Like any skill, kids need to practice it to get good at it.
Being able to think creatively is something that helps adults become successful problem solvers. This starts in childhood!
“As they master their world, play helps children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges.” (Milteer 2012)
In other words, we feel very strongly about establishing boundaries as parents. It’s not easy in the beginning but in the end, everyone wins, including the child!
We have some more boundaries that center around dinner, bedtime routines and other small things. Boundaries will look different in your family than mine, but the point is, we all need them for a happy life and to prevent burnout.
Since working on putting boundaries firmly in place and trying not to feel guilty about them (most days!), life is such a happier place and burnout is not on the horizon. I hope this gives you some ideas for boundaries in your life and the encouragement to make them happen. You deserve it! And your family and clients deserve to have you happy and feeling great.
Maybe you need more parental boundaries or friend boundaries in your life? Whatever the area, it’s worth the effort!
If you want to read more about burnout, Elea’s book is phenomenal and I highly recommend getting yourself a copy. Life is too short to not enjoy it as much as possible, especially since keeping that burnout monster at bay only requires a little bit of upfront effort.
MOVE THINK SMILE Volume 1: BurnOut to BadAss: Elea’s stress conquering method for getting your life back when work burns you out.