This might seem like a strange topic to start out a new year. The last thing we should already be is “burned out”. We’ve just set our new year’s resolutions. We are on day three of our commitment to workout (as evidence of how packed my gym was yesterday). We are hopefully coming off some extended time away from the office. We should be well rested, rejuvenated and ready to take on the world, right?
Unfortunately for many of us that is far from reality. While the new year has begun, many are coming off of a marathon of running to the point of exhaustion – trying to find the right gifts for loved ones, several trips back and forth to the grocery story to host Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas and feeling like our clothes are a bit tighter than just a few weeks ago. In the midst of our holiday celebrations, work slowed – but only momentarily. Deadlines were set aside for a few days. But, have returned and in some cases moved up. While some are feeling like they are ready to take on the world, others of us are feeling like the first few days of 2019 look suspiciously like 2018.
This was my reality for far too many years. And, if I’m honest there are still remnants of these issues in my own life. Fortunately, I have found ways to quickly re-calibrate when burnout slowly creeps back in. In my recent book “The Burnout Factor”, I share seven strategies that have helped me eliminate professional and personal burnout. Below are a few of those strategies:
- Make Ending Burnout A Strategic Priority: We have to be strategic in this. We strategize on other aspects of our careers and lives, why not a strategy to eliminate burnout and achieve greater balance? What is not purposely documented is rarely achieved. I’m a visual learner and often have to see my goals for them to come to a reality. My office is covered in chart paper reminding me of what I’m working to achieve. Whatever your strategic planning process is, I encourage you to take a no excuses approach and set clear professional and personal boundaries. Remember, we teach others how to treat us. If we are willing to work 7 days/week and respond to emails at midnight, we’ll be expected to work 8 days/week and respond to emails at 2 a.m. (I know extreme – but I had a client that did that).
- Stop Expecting You (Or Anyone Else) to Have Superhuman Powers: I’m an avid fan of Marvel Comics movies (Yes, I can admit that in public). I think they intrigue me so much, because somewhere deep inside I think I’m Wonder Woman or the Black Panther with superhuman powers and unlimited energy. Thinking in that manner caused me to work seven days a week, get very little sleep and poorly nourish my body. Attempting to be “Superwoman” at work and at home. What was the result? Severe health issues that have thankfully been fully resolved. I share my story as a cautionary tale. While we are often committed to making a difference in the lives of others. The one person you need to truly put first in 2019 is YOU.
- Redefine Your Definition of Success: As you move forward with eliminating burnout, I am going to challenge you to redefine your definition of success. While high academic achievement, reaching fundraising and strategic planning goals are important – those things do not define you. I encourage you to never define your success based on whether you achieve these goals or not. You are more than your goals, title, salary or academic achievement. Your success is based on the resilience and commitment you show every day; not on arbitrary numbers or metrics. True success should be based on your commitment to do your best and be your best amid any obstacles you face. Giving yourself the grace to know that just your sheer perseverance is an indicator of success.
2019 is just beginning. It’s the perfect time to revision what we want this year to look like. Let’s do this together, professional and personal burnout DOES NOT have to be our reality.
April Ervin is