Ever reached burnout to the point of paralyses? Most of you reached that point in college. Am I right? I certainly did. Many of you learned from that college burnout experience and slowed down enough to achieve balance once you started your first career position. Right?
According to Gallup.com, 40% of Americans get less than the recommended amount of sleep per night. Medical studies have related a lack of sleep to health problems and cognitive impairment. Not good. I’m assuming here that lack of sleep is an indication of overwork and burnout. Also, I have my vast experience, of working with all levels of professionals for over 30 years as a recruiter, to draw on. Too many times I got phone calls from overworked candidates who begged me to find them another position, ASAP.
Perhaps you know someone who’s suffering with a mid-life crisis, which can be caused by burnout (among other things)?
There’s hope of a better life.
As one who has displayed Type A personality traits throughout my life, I can appreciate your struggles with burnout. A few of my milestones, or should I say setbacks, include experiencing a nervous breakdown in my early 20’s during my second year of working in a national CPA firm; running a two-office personnel firm with my husband for 15 years cumulating in divorce and business closure; hitting the wall in the marathon four times (oh it’s as bad as being in labor). Yep, I’ve pretty much pushed myself to the extreme my entire life, making the same mistakes over and over, until I learned, finally, how to avoid burnout and achieve real success. Success isn’t really worthwhile if you don’t enjoy it—if you’re always looking to the future. Another way to describe it would be peaceful success—the type of success that you can sit back and savor. And it comes to you without the stress of constant pushing and burnout.
Here are the three key mistakes to avoid burnout and achieve success without stress.
- Ignoring your body’s signals.
As I write this post, I’m in week 16 of a 24 week marathon training program. As such, I’ve got burnout on the brain. This will be marathon number 18, so I’ve had some prior experience with this training stuff. As I mentioned above, I’ve hit the wall a few times during a marathon, which means I went out too fast at the beginning and pushed too hard becoming completely and utterly exhausted. This can happen anywhere from the mid-point at 13.1 miles. When it comes right down to it, running the actual marathon is not nearly as stressful as the long and cumbersome training. For instance, last week I ran 48 miles, including a 9 mile speed work run and an 18 mile long run. The week before I ran 47 miles. Sticking to the program will train my body and my mind to complete the 26.2 mile distance. In my past, I’d ignore my body’s signals and push and push and push. Invariably, I’d get sick and/or injured, forcing me to rest. Burnout.
Now I’m older (and hopefully wiser). I cut back on miles every three weeks to recover and I sleep—a lot. If my body is giving me the signal to rest, I listen. Listen to what your body is telling you. That tension in your shoulders, the stiff neck, the headache, are all signals. Listen.
- Living in the future.
According to the international best seller, The Power Of Now, becoming more aware of your body (and it’s signals) happens in the present moment. If you’re worried about something, your thoughts are on the future—you’re in your head. Flow your attention down into your body and pay attention to what is happening right now. Constant worrying about the future causes what you’re thinking about to happen. It’s amazing how much better the mind works when you don’t have a constant barrage of thoughts about what might or might not happen in the future. I recommend the book for ways to avoid burnout by focusing on your body signals in the here and now and to become more present.
- Focusing on what you don’t have.
We are thinkers. As much as I practice quieting the mind, it’s really hard to do. If you’re going to constantly think, it might as well be positive. Avoid burnout by practicing positive affirmations that are in the present moment. I am safe. I have a wonderful position and I am appreciated and compensated well. I am willing to make this the best day of my life. A great person to read about is Louise Hay, who advocates positive affirmations. She cured herself of terminal stage 4 cervical cancer. Louise, by the way, is still going strong at 90 years old.
I love saying affirmations now. When I started this current marathon training program, I started to experience pain in my left hip, the same pain that hindered me when I ran the 2015 Boston Marathon (from, yes, overtraining and burnout). My first thoughts were, “Oh no, this is bad. It didn’t heal. I won’t be able to train for the marathon.” I made a conscious decision to change my thoughts. When I started to feel the hip pain on my next training run, I started a new mantra. I said it over and over and over during my run. “My left hip is strong and I am strong. My left hip is strong and I am strong.” Sure, it was discouraging at first because I didn’t notice a difference immediately. But I kept at it. If the pain wasn’t there, I didn’t think to say the mantra. About a month later I realized I wasn’t saying the mantra at all. The pain had disappeared. My left hip is now strong. It takes determination and a willingness to pay attention to your thoughts. Acknowledge a negative thought, dismiss it and replace it with something positive—even if you don’t believe it. Just keep at it and your reality will change. Now, as the training is getting really tough my new mantra is “I can do this. I am incredibly strong.”
In summary, avoid these three mistakes to avoid burnout and achieve peaceful success.
Let’s break barriers together!
Dolores, The Running Recruiter
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Dreams really do come true! Read about my upcoming book Breaking Barriers. Middle age is not the transition to old age, but the transition to mastery—the mastery of a life of learning and experience. It’s our time to shine.