My Really, Really, Real-life Burnout Story.
Websters has it's definition, so do I . Mine is the seeming absolute inability to find joy in something you once loved.
Burnout is a word that doesn't have an effective "- ing" ending, i.e., you aren't aware of a process of "burning out." You just find yourself at a spot when it's too late... when you're at the deadly "-ed" version of the word: burned out, as in toast, fried, disinterested, disenfranchised and flat out in a state of not giving a shit.
Make sense? If it doesn't, you've never ever been burned out or even close. Who cares how you got there. You just want to fix it, right? Here's how.
NUMBER #1 – Avoid even getting close to the edge in the first place because once you're there it's a slow ugly climb back.
NUMBER #2 – Remember to watch for the signs and if you see any of them looming in the distance, abort current course immediately! Repeat. Drop everything and abort mission!
Trust me. I know. Keep reading to find out why...
Burned Completely Out
Two years ago at this time, I lay dying in the hospital all because I ignored warning signs about things that slowly and insidiously, figuratively and literally, stealthily crept into my system completely unnoticed while I worked myself into the ground to numb myself from a devastating and unexpected breakup.
I had been fighting a pinched nerve in my back for months until one night it switched sides. Right... pinched nerves don't switch sides. After two days alone hallucinating in a Portland hotel room with 105 fever I was admitted to the E.R. with some unknown calamity of bodily errors.
Multiple infections? ...definitely
Within a 14-day period, I experienced three of the five stages of death... twice!
I got my last rites from my physician father who kept excusing himself and later returned to my hospital room red faced and sullen. Mom said the priests were coming to perform some kind of healing ceremony. This was probably the first and only lie she ever told me.
I was asked if there was anything legal I still needed "to take care of". I drafted a letter to each of my three children explaining their roles in each other's lives... the gifts that maybe only I saw in them at that point... and the edict to remember that their mother loved them fiercely and ferociously, but was too stupid to take care of herself when someone broke her heart.
Here's a more recent experience with burnout that came out a bit better.
Please watch the video and then memorize some of these burnout antidotes:
Do something different. If you always drive to work on the same streets, take a different route.
Only take the projects that inspire you.
Only work with people who value your time and your gifts.
Say goodbye to anyone, business or personal, who does not... almost always (hey, nobody's perfect) treat you how you deserve to be treated.
Take long walks often without your headphones.
Look at the sky and be glad you can still see it.
Write in your journal, even if you can't write, if only to purge yourself of those demons we all possess.
Tend and weed your landscape of friends, family and associates as if you're the head of the most beautiful botanical garden in the world (hint: you are!).
Tell the truly important people in your life that you love them, appreciate them and will answer the phone in the middle of the night if they call and then make sure to answer it.
Create a list of things that always make you happy.... a stiff cappuccino, the softest blanket, a fresh stack of your favorite magazines.
Specifically... state at least five things for which you're grateful every single day even if you're so depressed the only positive thing worth noting is that the color green on the leaves in front of you isn't revolting.
Tell your friends when you're struggling.
F*** Facebook and its picket fence perfection.
Discover the key points of your existence and surround yourself with the top five people who inspire, love and care for you the most. When you need help... ask.
Then reread this article and rinse and repeat.
Do not ever get so close to the edge that only a troop of dedicated and determined priests can literally bring you back to life.
Oh yes. As per the video below about my recent burnout fighting adventure: have hope... and curiosity... and change up your routine. Good luck and here's a video walk-through of a recent near-miss with burn-out.