I don’t know about you, but 2020 brought out great things from within me. Amidst the chaos and confusion of an unprecedented moment in time, I can be honest in saying 2020 helped take my life to another level. One thing I’ve learned about the human spirit is that tragedy often brings out the best in people.
What I’ve witnessed since the start of the pandemic is innovation, perseverance, and persistence at their finest. Let’s face it, whatever role you play within your organization, you have been forced to evolve and adapt in new ways to be effective.That all being said, I think it is time to address something I’ve heard many people say behind closed doors.
Some of us are feeling burned out! Teaching a classroom full of kids took everything you had before the pandemic began. Being an administrator, husband, and father left a feeling of fulfillment but drained before the world seemed to change in front of our eyes. The challenge of overcoming COVID-19 gave some a second wind, but some rode that wind as long as we could.
Now some of us must acknowledge that we are tired. Are you one of those people? If you are, I feel your pain. I hope my words will give you a roadmap on how to regroup, recalibrate, and recharge your most critical asset: YOU.
Feeling burned out doesn’t make you a failure.Some people stay extraordinarily effective even when feeling burned out. If you have honed and mastered your craft, being less than your best may seem insignificant. We often simply chalk it up to life being tough.
Though I understand the sentiment, I believe that in the very best scenario, we miss out on opportunities to find a better balance and in the worst scenario, we set ourselves up for long-term consequences physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually. If you are feeling a bit burned out, I hope you will join me in three focuses that I believe can holistically get you back to your best self to overcome feeling burned out. If you truly want to change your life, you’ll need to invest your time and energy into your development to reap the benefits of real-life change.
If you’re going to overcome these feelings of being less than your best, you’re going to have to keep it real about how you feel, how you got to this place, and elements of the solution within your control. If you want to get better, saying “I’m fine” and simply brushing off these feelings will not cut it. Burnout goes beyond the surface. Burnout is something you feel deep down. You feel it both when you’re accomplishing great things and when you’re sitting in silence doing nothing. Burnout goes to the core of your being.
That, in itself, shows us that the solution to burnout will go to the core of our beings as well. “I’m fine” is a surface-level deflection of important and relevant emotions. As adults, we understand that we can not be slaves to every utterance of emotion that we feel, but we must know where they are birthed from.
Getting back to a better place will require you to be an active participant in your mental and spiritual health, not a bystander. If you’re going to join me in this journey to a better you, I would recommend that you begin with a pencil, paper, and a large glass of honesty. Begin by writing down the who, what, when, why, and how of your situation.
We teach our students, children, and friends valuable lessons that oftentimes we neglect. We choose to stay in bad situations or continue to say “yes” to situations that bring us down, simply because they are familiar. That feeling in the pit of your stomach is one you are used to, and though you don’t like it, you know how to survive it.
If you took Step 1 seriously (it is ok if it takes you a while to work through that step!), you likely identified several aspects that brought you to this place. Some of the items were circumstantial and others were internal. Whatever your most prevalent items are, you will need to determine which items can be adapted, changed, or enhanced. For some, you do the work emotionally and mentally but you don’t take good care of yourself physically. Your body is not holding up to the rigors of your life.
For others, you eat well and exercise, but you do little work to stay mentally and spiritually present and focused. Whatever you find is your starting point in this journey, you’re going to need to build or rebuild some new muscles to lift the weight that you bear in your life.
Any time a person builds new muscles, two things are sure to be accompanied. Doing the work can be uncomfortable and resistance will always be a part of the process. The journey from burnout to a better you will be hard at times. You’re not going to do things perfectly, but you need to be willing to try some new things!
What do you think you may try to do that would freshen your perspective?? Do you need to take something off of your plate to recharge? Prioritize a new sleep schedule? Do you need a new hobby? Is your burnout a symptom of a systematic problem that requires a new resume and an open mind? One thing to consider is that many of us got to this place by going above and beyond the call of duty for others. If you want to overcome burnout, you’ll need to do the work to go above and beyond for yourself!
After you’ve identified a few areas to target, you’ll need to make sure that you set positive goals for yourself. I believe it imperative not to set up what I call negative goals. “Stop smoking.” “Quit eating unhealthy.” “Say No More.”
Instead of defining what you don’t want to do, identifying what you are aiming for creates a stronger image in your mind. This can lead to motivation, inspiration, and a strong reminder of your “why” for days when the changes are tough.
I always recommend to clients and patients that it is important to clearly define realistic and measurable goals. Don’t just say that that you’re going to “stop stressing out” to get through your burnout. Say that you’re going to spend 30 minutes every morning and evening focusing on your mental/spiritual health to lower stress.
Don’t just say that you are going to “stop taking people’s crap.” Say you’re going to work to consistently create healthy boundaries at work and in personal relationships to have a more balanced life.
Listen, we are talking about your life. You spend a lot of time creating lesson plans, business models, implementation strategies, or whatever your specific role requires. If you truly want to change your life, you’ll need to invest your time and energy into your development to reap the benefits of real-life change. Overcome feeling burned out!