And finally, I did. After years of burning the midnight oil, working a full-time job while also passionately pursuing a second career, of pushing myself always to be doing more, I had hit that rock bottom affectionately known as burnout.
Whereas I once was involved in a flurry of projects and activities that thrilled me but took an immense amount of energy, suddenly, I was solely focused on raising my child and working and taking care of my home...and very little else. Weekends became a new vibe. Netflix became my best friend.
Here is the thing I've learned about burnout - it redirects you. You don't just get your mojo back suddenly and leap back into the foray. You burnout for a variety of reasons - you are careening at breakneck speed down a wrong path, you have expended beyond a normal amount of energy, or what you want and need from life simply changes cold turkey on you and you suddenly find yourself not knowing what to do with yourself anymore. The dreams you were driving yourself towards just seem to die a slow, painful death.
The death of a dream is akin to a relationship abruptly ending. All the attention you gave it, all the time you spent with it, how it factored into your long range plans...burnout takes that away and you have to start fresh. Going back to the dream is like going back to an ex over and over...the pieces usually just can't be picked back up.
This is where depression can settle in, because not knowing what to do with one's self can lead to a sense of idleness and lack of purpose. Of simply going through the motions without really feeling life. The dream gave a great deal of purpose and suddenly it isn't there anymore. When you've been passionately pursuing a dream for a long time, the regular motions of life can feel a bit to, well...regular.
So you think. A lot. And you start realizing that the dream, the quest, the ambitions that lead to your burnout actually took up a hell of a lot of your time. You hadn't noticed how much before, but now you were finding great joys in being out in nature, in knitting and creating functional items for your home and family, in trying new recipes, finding a perfect bouquet for the dinner table from your own garden. You find a great deal of joy in a long, long walk in nature, coffee with friends, and perfecting your homemade pie crust.
You are still the same creative person, the same ambitious soul, still driven and high energy to do many things....they just aren't the same things anymore. Your soul wants - and needs - something now that is no longer related to the dream. And you suddenly find a great deal of happiness coming from just being, and just being you.
My friend Mari of SaimaaLife worded it best when she said, "For a long time I pursued a life that I thought I wanted; success, a better salary etc. My burnout led me to question my life choices up to this point. In nature’s silence I realized that the things that I really wanted were elsewhere. I also realized that they had very little to do with fame and money." In her new, free E-Guide From Stress to Relaxation: 10 Ways to Wellbeing With the Help of Nature, Mari address the similar experiences I had over the past few years and not only how to combat them, but when it's also wise to embrace them. To listen. To understand what your soul and body are telling you. What it's wise to hold on to, and what it's wise to release. A guide towards both a more authentic life and a more authentic you. You can download the free E-Guide here or by visiting SaimaaLife.com.
Please feel free to comment on the eGuide or share your own experiences with burnout! I'm going to dedicated a few posts in the coming weeks to both recognizing burnout and using it as a fuel to reboot your life! Until then, Happy Friday. We are 6 days away from a 12 day spring vacation over here, and can not wait!