March 12, 2018
In Episode 97 of Multinewmedia, I talk to Christopher Woodward about something that is all too often swept under the rug in professional circles: burnout. This, as we recorded and as I write this blog post, is something that I'm legitimately struggling with at the moment, despite our clever banter about the topic at the onset of the episode. Maybe you were already able to piece together the puzzle and figure out from my lengthy monologue in the previous episode, Episode 96: The Self Reliance Fallacy, that I have been overburdened recently.
Burnout is a way of telling you that your form of activism was, perhaps, not very full circle.
Truthfully, I have nobody to blame but myself, but this isn't a blame game. I keep taking on more and more projects of increasingly large scope. One of the biggest troubles is that I believe in myself and my ability to accomplish, well, anything. It's not naïveté, nor is it any ego that drives me to this conclusion, but rather an unbounded optimism about the future and how I can play a part in its creation. Maybe that last bit sounds a bit grandiose, but when you really stop to think about it, you can probably relate more than you'd otherwise like to admit.
So what to do?
Well, I've acknowledge that I can carry a bit of an obsessive streak about whatever my passion is at that moment. In my early adulthood, the "at the moment" portion was influential as my whims were short-lived and often romanticized into delusions of some eventual grandeur. As I've aged, and tempered (slightly?), my passions and pursuits are much more calculated and long term, especially as I've learned to balance delayed gratification with my need for immediate business investments or even just everyday bills.
As a highly motivated professional, strategy helps my burnout. Since we can't talk about burnout without the idiom "spinning your wheels", I can say that clear goals and objectives are what keep me from spinning out, and for those occasional moments where traction is lost, my strategy to achieve my goals and objectives keeps me focused and able to clear whatever smoke is occurring.
Leadership is an active role; "lead" is a verb. But, the leader who tries to do it all is headed for burnout, and in a powerful hurry.
- Bill Owens
I check my analytics incessantly. I review earnings multiple times inbetween payments. I literally feel a compulsion to sit down at a computer (desktop, laptop, tablet, phone, whatever... anything will do!) and perform work. It may look, to the outside observer, that I have a computer addiction. I don't. What I have is an obsessive streak that continually leads me to burnout.
But, I'm lucky.
I'm lucky because I understand—very clearly—the root cause of my burnout. I understand what creates it, how to spot the warning signs, and even how to preempt or break the spell. Do I always do what is necessary and keep burnout (or the obsession) at bay? Nope. Sometimes my drive outweighs my need for balance. But at least I know and can implement the changes, or ask for help in implementing them when I find my resolve is to firmly stuck on productivity or projects, albeit in an ironically detrimental way.
It is my hope that this episode and this post help you think about burnout in a new way. I hope that you can find the root cause of your burnout like I have for mine. Then, take the steps necessary, including asking for help from those close to you professionally and personally, to break the burnout cycle and be happy, productive, and well-balanced.