We’re kicking off today with a self-assessment – I want you to take inventory and tally mark, if you will, how often you’ve said any of these words or phrases: “I’m stressed, anxious, nervous, I haven’t eaten, I haven’t slept, I’m freaking out, crazy busy, I’ve hit the wall, I can’t do this anymore, I quit.” I remember uttering those words every single day for 13 months. And this was pre-pandemic; this was seven years ago, where at the end I did say, “I quit.”
No matter where you might be on the spectrum of burnout, whether you’re just starting to feel it nip at you or if you’ve already crossed over and said those words, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to give you my three tips on how to manage burnout. So no matter where you’re at, if you implement these three, it is going to help you starting today.
Number one: talk to someone. Look, I am not saying go talk to your spouse, your significant other, your BFF who you’re just going to bitch at and complain and talk in circles, saying the same thing over and over again. I’m not talking about that. Go talk to somebody who can support you and provide you with feedback. A true sounding board; somebody who has experience, who can listen, understand, and then offer you actual, tangible advice.
That might be a confidant or a mentor, or in my case, I hired a coach. From my office that night, immediately after uttering, “I quit,” I texted a coach and said, “I have to hire you.” That was my very first step that helped me control that burnout. So think about, who is that for you? Who is that someone that you can reach out to, to start to talk to, who is not just going to listen, but they’re going to provide you with solid, quality feedback on how you can best manage this burnout.
I know the word “happiness” sounds so like flippant and light and airy, and I’m not saying, “Go find what brings you ultimate joy and live on cloud nine every day!” Absolutely not, let’s be real. But you do have to find some places where you feel some of that energy, where you are engaged in things that do bring you joy, that light you up, that make you ready to go. When I hit that burnout, I spent time every morning asking myself, what makes me happy? I was trying to find the little, tiny things that I could eventually weave into my everyday life.
What were the things that really, truly lit me up, that made me feel good about myself? And how could I plug those into my job, even though they weren’t in my job description? I found ways to weave those in as often as possible, because I knew I wasn’t going to quit my job. I knew that not everything was going to change immediately, so I had to take responsibility and find little ways to bring some joy and energy each and every day.
Find out what that is for you, and start integrating it! And finally, number three: manage expectations. Your burnout is not going to go from 0 to 60, back to 0 as quickly as you think it is; it is not going to completely change overnight.
You’ll feel less stress in small, incremental, bite-size pieces each and every day. I don’t want you to think, “If I go talk to someone and find my happiness remedy, bam! Everything’s going to be perfect.” It’s not. Manage your expectations, but don’t stay stuck.
Don’t say, “It’s got to be 0 to 60 back again, or I’m not doing anything.” Don’t stay in your current habits. Make those small, little changes every day, and know that tomorrow should be better than today, and then the next day should be better than that. Manage those expectations, and take those small steps.
All right, guys, implement those three things. I want to help you manage your burnout, so that you don’t get to the breaking point! And even if you are, take these steps to help bring you back.