The key to avoid burnout is developing the right mindset and expectations, along with a plan and strategy. Good preparation is the best way to deal with burnout and maintain balance. (Estimated reading time: 3-4 minutes)
“Burnout is what happens when you try to avoid being human for too long.”— Michael Gungor
Every seasoned runner knows that before starting a new training program, they need to be clear about their end goal.
Do they want to build their endurance levels so that they can run long distances?
Do they want to focus on building strength so that they can do short but powerful bursts of sprints?
Both these training targets require different strategies for building the runner’s fitness and energy levels.
In a similar way, we need to “train” ourselves on a psychological level for a challenging, personal goal. Once we’re clear about our targets, we can prepare ourselves for the road ahead by building our internal strength.
We psyche ourselves for potential challenges, delays and disappointments that we might encounter along the way. Without this preparation, it’s easy to give up and lose hope before we cross the finish line.
It might take months or even years before we can see the fruits of our labor. Even if we put in a lot of effort during this gestation period, there are no guarantees for success. We cannot see the road ahead beyond a certain point, and this can be intimidating. All we can do is to take the next one or two steps and wait for the path to unfold.
Our culture’s obsession with “overnight” successes only adds to people’s anxiety. Most people nowadays only notice the bright and shiny accolades, while ignoring all the blood, sweat and tears that went into reaching a certain level of prominence.
This creates a false expectation when it comes to the level of time and effort that goes into becoming a success. The reality is that every single master of their craft had to toil away for hours, and take a lot of risks to gain recognition in their field.
When my brother was studying in med school, he would often share stories about how his fellow college mates handled the stresses of their rigorous curriculum. There were stories of students dropping out, falling into depression and, sadly, taking their own life. Clearly, the high demands and expectations of college took a severe emotional toll on many of the students.
Stories like these demonstrate how critical it is for us to learn self-management techniques and healthy perspectives to stay balanced while in we pursue those hard-to-reach feats. Success is the result of a combination of working smart and managing of our inner game.
Here are some five tips on how to prevent burnout while working on your long-cherished dreams:
1. Accept that there will be a learning curve: If you’re in the beginning stages of learning something, you have to accept that it will take some time before you gain expertise. This requires an attitude of flexibility and openness. Focus on striving for progress instead of perfection.
2. Become an excellent planner: A lot of the times when a person experiences burnout, it’s because they have not planned how to use their resources in an efficient way. For this reason, time management and money management are important skills that every achiever needs to learn.
3. Create internal balance: Without a strong physical foundation, you run a high risk of burning out. No matter how busy your life gets, always make your health a priority and take care of its needs: get sufficient sleep, eat nutritious foods and get enough exercise.
4. Have faith and believe that you’re being supported: Whatever your belief systems are, believing that you’re supported by a Higher Power gives you a sense of purpose and opens you up to receiving guidance in the form of signs, synchronicities and coincidences.
5. Be gentle with yourself: While chasing your dreams, show yourself love, no matter what happens along the way. Acknowledge your small victories and manage the critical voices within you. I like to use this line by Brené Brown, as an affirmation: “No matter how much I get done, or is left undone, at the end of the day, I’m enough.”
Life is not about the destination but the journey—a quote most often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson—is one of my favorites. Every experience, good or bad, that you have along the way is helping you become a more evolved, loving and fully-expressed version of yourself.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: What has been the main cause of burning out in your life? What have you done to deal with burnout in the past? What are you going to do differently?
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