Are You Drowning in the Sea of Burnout?

Are You Drowning in the Sea of Burnout?

I recently had coffee with a friend after he returned from vacation.

“It was the first time in 10 years I left my work phone at home,” he said.

I can relate.

After two long careers, plus two businesses, it was non-stop. I was always in hyperdrive. High-speed / Lo-drag. It’s just the way I’m wired. My de facto operating system which drives me to…I dunno, success? To climb to the top of the pile wherever I’m at? To be first in whatever?

It’s complicated. I’m not a psychiatrist. There are a lot of what goes on inside of us. From birth, there’s a lot of different experiences that make us who and what we are.

In 25 years, I took a grand total of 3 vacations! One of which was a working vacation.

I was that guy that had to have a phone connected with me 24/7. Then, check my work email on days off, nights off, on call on my weekends, and was never able to disengage from work.

Today, we’re so interconnected to work, it’s as if there’s this seamless operation when we turn on any electronic component. We can video conference from our watch these days!

Why do we feel such a compulsion to be so connected?

Why do we feel we need to have push notifications enabled such that the moment someone posts a facebook post, to our boss sending another work email, that we have to get that sent to us right now!?

It’s complicated.

We feel this internal pressure like we’re missing out.

Then there’s the cultural angle of our jobs.

You know, the unwritten policy that you should be connected 24/7 because when the boss sends forth a command, everyone shall jump, or at least be in the know by the time Monday rolls around; for if not, then the sideways glances, raised eyebrows, and the underhanded demeaning and cutting remarks will certainly issue forth from fellow employees if not from the insensitive and insecure boss.

Anyways…

All this connection, push notifications, and simple lack of having any downtime or just time to ourselves, creates the perfect environment for burnout.

I could hand you stats and scientific data on burnout, but I don’t need to…I’ve lived it, trust me, it’s just a matter of time.

The more connected to work, the less connected you’ll be with loved ones, your significant other, and yourself.

Yes, yourself. You won’t be in tune with who you are or what your core values are or passions are.

Why?

Because when you’re on the short leash of someone else’s bidding, you don’t have time for anything else. The time you do have will be like handing a child the spare change you carry around, in other words, not the quality time you need to give yourself, and the relationships that are important.

Then?

You feel numb and hate going to work.

Your love dries up.

You’re tired all the stinking time.

What used to be a passion feels like drudgery.

You finally take time off, and it takes 3 damn days to feel normal again IF there’s any remembrance what normal feels like.

In my last career, smack dab in the middle of insane burnout, I was a machine. I felt nothing.

I didn’t have hobbies. I didn’t want hobbies. I worked non-stop, and there was no other reward.

Why? There was a lot of whys that went into it, but ultimately I had no hope of changing for fear of not being able to make it financially doing something else and loss of prestige and it was the life I knew, stuck! So changing anything was foreign.

But, I came across an article in 2012 that changed my life…at least one of the many things that made me stop and think about changing my life.

It was written by Bonnie Ware, entitled Regrets of the Dying. She took her experiences of dealing with terminally ill patients and wrote down the top five regrets of those about to die. It’s a short read. I encourage you to check it out.

I printed out a copy of that article and carried it with me every day for several years until made the leap.

Here are a few thoughts I’d like to leave with you that might help you regain your sanity and at the very least, point you in the direction of changing things up to revive love, passion, and fulfillment…

  • Turn off the push notifications. Unless there’s a written policy commanding that you need to be plugged in, then don’t be. If so, make sure you get compensated for your time.
  • Check your work email at work, and Only while you’re on the clock.
  • Take more breaks during the day. Yesterday, I dealt with poor writing, stressful situation of a website going down, deadline looming, and what did I do in the middle of it all? I grabbed my basketball and walked to a nearby outdoor court and played for 30 minutes. I could care less what the boss thinks.
  • Speaking of caring less…re-prioritize what you DO care about, and focus on those things, instead of an organization that is using you like you’re some cheap quart of oil, draining your lifeblood to keep the machinery clunking away.
  • Meditate. First thing in the morning, give yourself some quiet time. No, this isn’t a spiritual treatise, it’s a suggestion to give yourself space and a peaceful time to help you refocus on what you value, what your passions are, and…what and who you are. When it’s really stressful, I’ll do this a few times a day, and it doesn’t require a lot of time, just a few moments will help.
  • Play. Get out and play. Not behind a computer screen, but get outside, move, do something fun like when you were a kid. Ride a bike. Go hiking. Just go and get out…without your phone in the back pocket!

These aren’t conclusive items, just a few things I wish I’d done more of, at least just done.

Oh, and take more time to get away. Leave for the day and turn the phone off and give yourself time to enjoy life again.


Photo by Ian Espinosa

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Burnout, Living Better, Reinvention, Self-Improvement
The Prince Who Changed

The Prince Who Changed

Once upon a time…

 

There was a prince.

He had power, prestige, and prominence among the small kingdom his father presided over.

The prince was comely in many ways. All the women in the land wished he were theirs to have and to hold. The men of the land wished they had his looks, his position, and his fortune.

Yet, the prince felt as though life was passing him by and his strength failing for the stress, the pressure, and the demands of his father.

“I don’t feel alive,” he once told his father.

“Shut up, boy. It’s your destiny and you shall inherit this great kingdom,” father responded curtly.

“I feel like an empty shell. I perform on the outside and yet on the inside…I’m dead. You don’t listen to me, father. I want to live. I want to be free from—“

“Shut up, boy!” the father demanded with a stomp and a fist slammed into an open palm. “I will set you on the throne soon. Men would die to be in your place!”

“But…I care not for titles, riches, or the things of this world,” the prince protested with a hushed voice and lowered head.

“Be that it may. You will be king soon. Be a man and realize that you can’t have everything your way,” the father scowled in reply.

The prince nodded and slowly plodded out of the throne room.

The moment he exited the great doors, which were closed for their private conversation, he lifted his head and put on an air of confidence and poise as he entered the hustle and bustle of the kingdom.

Yet, the turmoil jostled and churned inside of him.

Why don’t I feel anything any longer? There must be more to life than stress; being in a position that I no longer want, nor love. Why does this life no longer resonate with me?

So the prince mused within himself.

Women winked from afar, young ladies giggled quietly in the shadows; pats on the back from renowned men, and deep bows from those under rank as he passed.

The prince was unmoved by the insincere gestures.

Broken promises by his father had cast a wary eye toward any future of fame and fortune.

Used by men and women for their own pleasure, their own advancement, and their own selfish purposes, created mistrust and disdain for those in the kingdom.

He no longer spoke of his desires and dreams, nor of his frustrations and fears to his advisors for they were preoccupied with their own illusions of grandeur in the prince’s shadow rather than providing wise counsel.

Then, one morning as a chill hung in the air, the prince approached his father one last time.

“I am done, father. I know I have let you down, but there is a world out there calling for me. I wish not to be like you: full of bitterness, contempt, and anger in the end. Prominence, power, and position is not what I seek. I seek peace, love, and life…and nothing here offers this.

“I am done with your guilt, with your hate, with your demands of who I should be that is not who I am,” the prince voiced his heart with a conviction like never before. His legs trembled and his stomach shuddered, yet the prince stood with head held high.

“You!” growled his father with an accusing finger. He spat and shouted, “Will burn in the deepest and darkest pit of hell. God will get you!”

The prince made no reply. He left the throne room with his father hurling accusations and heaps of guilt upon him.

After a few goodbyes to those closest to him, he rode out from the fortress with only a few belongings. The morning sky turned to a gray afternoon and rain pelted him as he rode further and further away.

Doubt and fear rose in his throat as the rain became a downpour.

“I will not doubt! This is the right way. I will have unwavering faith in the path I follow,” he shouted out to the storm.

Suddenly, the rain stopped. The clouds began to break apart. Mist and fog swirled and lifted to the heavens. Before him lay a pathway that crested a hillock, then a vale below with a town ensconced in green pasture lands and towering snow-capped mountains nearby.

He believed this was the only course to regain a life long ago lost in the daily commotion of duties no longer loved, no longer fulfilling, no longer filled with promise.

The prince changed his name. He changed many things such that as he rode further into the vale, those who met him only knew him as a wanderer.

Men and women he met in the vale had no pretense for status, wealth, or authority; for they were a people who accepted, appreciated, and acknowledged him for who he was.

He stopped wandering and wished to stay.

He took up hard work for little money in return. The prince endured many struggles and life was not as easy as before, but he felt a sense of pride and destiny and purpose return to his heart.

One morning, he woke and the day shone brightly upon him. The prince smiled, for he felt a peace he had never known before.

He met love and it was sincere.

He found favor with men and women and circumstance for his God was with him.

~ The End Beginning


Photo by Vborodinova

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Life Hack, Living Better, Reinvention, Self-Improvement