I‘ve struggled with burnout my whole life. I’ve had trouble completing projects and sticking to my passion-driven pursuits.
I’m an off the charts “enthusiast” on the Enneagram personality test. That said, there’s definitely a part of me that’s impulsive and likes to bounce from one exciting adventure to the next.
While this trait has provided a dynamic life, sometimes I worry that I won’t be able to create anything sustainable due to “life ADHD”.
This “enthusiast” part of my personality has always been there to protect me from boredom (and I appreciate that)! Unfortunately, it’s also been a source of a lot of frustration and inconsistency.
For example, when I first started coaching, I would start creating these intensive programs, workshops and online modules, but I’d rarely see them to fruition.
I’d attack them with so much vigor and passion that I’d soon burn out and want NOTHING to do with what I had just created.
Thankfully, I’m fully aware of my burnout track-record and my desire to create something meaningful and sustainable. With this awareness, I’m learning what I need to do reach my long term goals without loosing interest or enthusiasm.
So, here are 6 tips for preventing burnout from a recovering fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants-gal.
6 Tips for preventing burnout
1. Have a clear plan
When I quit my awesome day job to pursue a half-baked plan of becoming a “coach” I had no clear vision or business plan established. All I had was blind passion and fierce idealism of being my own boss (which isn’t a sustainable motivator, by the way).
It’s only been two and a half years since I took that “leap of faith” and you know what? I’ve had to grimace, shrug my shoulders and take several steps back before finding the clarity I have now.
The key to finding clarity is taking the time to learn more about yourself and what motivates you.
2. Be patient
When you really want something, it’s natural to want it immediately. Having an intense sense of urgency and making rash decisions is like falling in love on The Bachelor. It’s important to notice impulsive ego-waves and give them more than enough time to simmer in your brain before acting on them.
Take time to prepare and let your vision develop.
Think of yourself as a brick layer – one brick a day will eventually build the house you need. Befriend time and recognize that there’s an abundance of it.
3. Protect your energy and enthusiasm
Take one small step towards your goal at a time and think realistically about what you can manage.
When you bite off more than you can chew, nothing gets done well.
I have been taking one grad school class at a time. And while I would love to finish my degree quicker and take 3 classes at a time I’m aware that that would probably lead me to burnout. One class at a time is really all I can digest at the moment, and that’s totally fine.
4. Add manageable structure
When I lived in New York City there was no structure to my life. Every day might as well have been the weekend because I’d stay up late, sleep in late, socialize and then maybe work.
To my surprise, that sort of freedom made me less productive.
Now that I have structure again, I seek to maximize my free time and am more productive. Creating and implementing routine adds consistency, which produces results. When you start seeing results, they prove that your behavior matters. And with that proof, your motivation will naturally increase.
5. Be flexible and forgiving
Discipline is good, but there is rarely a need for militaristic willpower. The negative feelings that build up when you judge yourself for making a mistake will inevitably accumulate and cause burn out (ahem, this is why strict diets never last)!
Mistakes are here to teach us.
They can also be the most direct path to learning and growing when you forgive yourself for them. With forgiveness, it’s easier to pick up the pieces and keep going – confidence and vision intact.
6. Embrace the lulls
You are going to want to quit sometimes, especially when you’re feeling uninspired or exhausted. However, If what you’re doing still fits your vision somehow don’t quit!
Experiencing a lull doesn’t mean you’ve lost interest forever. Instead of quitting, take on a little less responsibility for now or take a break.
When a roadblock hits, be like a basketball player…just shuffle, pivot (or whatever basketball players do) and execute a different play.
With a long term perspective, taking a break or taking on less might be exactly what you need to re-energize.