The Cult of Productivity
Fallow times come to us all. We cannot be at the top of our game all the time. There are several reasons why we might be dealing with burnout, and so there are a few solutions. The best thing you can do for yourself is wait and rest, however. Burnout happens when we push ourselves to hard, and pushing through it is pointless at best, and can be disastrous at worst.
When I urge people to consistently put themselves first, this is why.
Even if your sole purpose in life is to help people, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
It is difficult, and sometimes impossible to help other people when your soul is hurting. Some pain we can work through, but the worst pain is the one we don’t even feel.
Society tells us that by being anything less than 100% all the time we are being lazy, and it’s precisely this attitude that causes so much mental illness and emotional distress amongst our population. This attitude causes burnout, and we feel we must remove the burnout, instead of this attitude, which creates a sick self fulfilling prophecy.
Let’s look at some of the more common causes.
As described above, the most common direct cause is simply that of doing too much. Or trying to do too much – humans cannot multitask. Science has come forward in the recent months to explain that multitasking is actually detrimental to getting things done. Doing six things at once only means that small progress is made in six things, rather than actually completing one or two tasks which happens when you single task.
Throw out your To-Do list – half of what’s on it you don’t need to do. Yet more of it you can delegate to colleagues or family members.
You need to work smarter, instead of harder.
But first, you need to rest. If you’re thinking about work – you aren’t resting. You are still giving work (or whatever you’re burnt out on) that energy. If you are constantly thinking about work on your day off, you may as well have gone to work for all the rest you’ve got.
Give yourself a respite, and a sacred space to be
Sometimes, especially with spiritual work, you can be put into a sort of ‘Time Out’ if you refuse to listen to your body or to signs you’ve been given.
This is simply a waiting game. There is a lesson to be learned while you’re in Time Out – a sort of ‘sit there and think about what you’ve done’ kind of thing.
You’ll be let out once you’ve learnt your lesson. I promise. Be good, now.
Lack of Passion
Sometimes we lose passion for what we’re doing, and discipline keeps us going. But discipline can sometimes take us too far – if we’ve lost passion, it becomes supremely difficult to keep going. What was once easy for us is now a trial, and it’s easy to just try and work harder to try and get the same amount and quality of work done.
However, this is worst thing to do. You need to reignite the flames of passion for your work – or find a different path. Try and remember what drew you to the work in the first place – is there still time in your working life for that? Or have you progressed so far you no longer even do the things you wanted to do? Are you stuck doing paperwork instead of the goals that you had set for yourself? Or has the industry simply changed and you no longer enjoy it?
Taking steps to increase the amount of joy in our lives goes a long way to help failing passion. New books, movies, long walks, museums are all ways to get the brain to fire again.
But the key part is to listen to yourself – what is really making you unhappy? Can you change it, or get rid of it?
And remember, it’s okay to walk away from something that once made you happy. It doesn’t make you happy anymore, so it is no longer right for you. Don’t cling to a dream that has flown.
Lack of Support
If no-one understands your path, it is hard to walk it. Instead of trying to convince your family and friends to support you, find those who will. The Internet is vast place, full of support groups for just about every job, business or hobby.
And if your family/friends are really getting you down, it’s okay to walk away from them too.