If we are young, smart and healthy – Why Are We Burning Out?
I spent my twenties working incredibly hard but I was unhappy and had this nagging feeling that I was lost. I couldn’t find that thing that was my ‘purpose’.
Eventually I found my passion which presented me with 6 years of incredible experiences and blood (this video) sweat (this video) and tears (listen). Broadcasting and Radio are a true passion and I was going to do EVERYTHING I could do to get there.
Once I got my radio job on KIIS after many years of moving around the country and slugging away, things didn’t slow down. In fact it was quite the opposite. I felt this undertone of ‘this is our shot!’. So much pressure, so much sharing, so little help. But the problem wasn’t just about support and whether you take your multi vitamin’s, it was my definition of what it takes to be “successful”. Ever heard your Dad say “nothing comes easy?” or “hard work and determination will get you where you want to go”. To some degree he was right. But to a whole other degree he had missed the question – but at what cost?
A year and a half in, and after a two week stint filling in for National Drive I was zonked. I couldn’t get up. I felt happy. I was in love, I loved my job and show, I loved my team – but I couldn’t get the energy to get out of bed. At first I thought it was winter and the cold was playing havoc on my motivation. Then I thought it was my newly found love bubble and didn’t want to do anything other than sit in it with my man. A month went by and I knew something was up. I found out I had severe adrenal fatigue.
But I am fit? I had thought. I have a romantic partner now to lend an ear? A business partner who is my bestie? I eat green smoothies every day for god’s sake?! I meditate! I am doing all of the things!
So I thought.
I cried the whole way through ready Fried: Why You Burn Out And How To Revive. (Buy it here) I couldn’t believe that my beliefs about work ethic and ambition were making me sick. So below are some questions to detect your potential burn out. Take the time to ask yourself, whether this is you and be honest. You might just catch it early, and go into the new year with a whole different headspace. I wish someone had asked me – even if it was just one them.
Do you have something to prove?
We all do. Especially us millennials! It isn’t a conscious thought when you get out of bed like – today I need to prove XX to my boss, or prove that I was right yesterday to THAT girl that baits me… blah blah blah. It’s mostly proving something to yourself. You’ve set a goal. You are ambitious, you are working towards something and want to get the promotion stat.
I needed to prove that two girls worked on radio. That all the people (men) that said it wouldn’t work, were wrong. I needed to prove it to them – but they scared me – so I guess I needed to prove it to myself too. Freundenberger was a psychologist writing about Burn Out in the 80’s and said “people with the greatest investment in projects and ideas are much likelier to burn out then those who are less attached to the outcome. Although commitment to a cause, a job, your children may seem selfless and virtuous, there’s often an underlying ambition to prove your importance and worth that predisposes you to becoming fried”.
Thinkergirl was a thought, an idea, a creation; straight from my heart and mind many moons ago. I was a small business owner, a creator. I was guilty of the above. You might be a small business owner, you might be looking for a promotion, or even if your goal is not career focused and you are determined to be the best parent possible. Better than your own, perhaps?
Just because we are passionate about being the best doesn’t mean we aren’t hurting ourselves by trying to get there. Is what you’re trying to prove worth you going down first? As someone who has been there, I promise you – it’s not.
Would you call yourself a ‘Hard Worker’?
Most of us would describe ourselves as this right? I care about what I do, I want to achieve my goal, I do what needs to be done. You are a productive person, who is available pretty much all day everyday for work? I was this. If a producer had a question at 10am – I would answer. So easy to just shoot a text off, yeah? If Kirstie decides to work from 10 – 12 even though I am about to hop into a yoga class and she has a quick question – it is so easy to answer the text, right?
Well yes. But we aren’t protecting ourselves from hitting a point where this productivity turns against itself. In Fried, author Joan Borysenko explains it pretty simply.
“If you place your productivity on the y-axis (the vertical line) of your graph and stress on the x-axis (the horizontal line) you get an inverted U. Productivity increases with stress – To A Point. But after that point, you find yourself in the land of of diminishing returns. You’re working harder but getting less quality work done. This is where burn out sets in”.
When you are busy what is the first thing to go? Yourself?
As a person who speaks about building your self worth, your self esteem and looking after yourself for a living – I was upset to learn that as soon as I hit super busy – I was the first to take the cut. If I had to choose between an extra video shoot or an interview perhaps at 11am (remembering we worked on a nights show) that yoga class that I had booked (and paid for!) was always the first to go. In fact it was happily the first to go.
If I had worked a 13 hour day – meditation was the first to go. And when I had worked x5 13 hour day’s, my social life on the weekends were gone.
I am not saying I regret trying and then achieving my goals, but I look back and realise, for example – some of the videos didn’t move us forward. I realised that not all interviews were important and would get me to where I want to be. I could have perhaps achieved the same result without slowly killing myself in the process.
Have a think about it. It may be the same with your work. Perhaps there is a meeting you can skip and catch up on if something has to be done before you leave, so you can still make that dinner and not take the cut personally. Mostly, life goes on and people end up respecting you for putting up your own boundaries.
Being burnt out isn’t a thing that is overcome with some extra sleep and a holiday. It took me three good months to make some serious changes with the way I ran my day to day life, and a lot of extra rest before my energy levels started to recover. It is so often mistreated as the result of a bit of over working or busyness but as someone who went through it – only months ago, it is major.
No goal is worth you getting sick. And no job that you love is fun when you don’t have the energy to enjoy it.
Have you got that nagging feeling? Not sure what it is? Comment below!