Any advice for someone who’s experiencing burnout?

Lemuel Goltiao ‏@suburbandude: Any advice for someone who’s experiencing burnout?


I have to confess something. I am feeling a little bit of burnout. I’ve been doing this blog for a little more than two years. I probably write, on average, 3000 words a day seven days a week. If I am not done with my 3000 words by 9am I start to feel a little bit tense (it doesn’t happen often but it happens). I’ve published 464 posts. Five I’ve had to delete for various reasons after I published them. So 459 posts are published averaging about 2000 words each. 136 posts are in my Drafts folder because I didn’t think they were good enough to publish.

My entire Daily Practice revolves around this blog. I stay healthy so I have the energy and drive to wake up early and work on the blog. I started the blog shortly after I got married and began eliminating various negative relationships in my life. That elimination worked magic in my productivity. The blog itself is usually the way I come up with the ideas to exercise my idea muscle. I also read every day to either help with the ideas or to get inspiration from different writers I enjoy. And for me, this blog is about how to combine the spiritual with the secular, the soul with success. Every aspect of the daily practice I have outlined comes full force in how I do this blog.

And most of the time, I love doing it. I feel creative. I’ve made lots of friends through this blog. It’s been such a pleasure.

But I know myself. Two years is sort of my time limit on anything. I’m not the sort of person who spends 50 years doing something (more on Mick Jagger in a future post). I was at HBO for 2 years before I started my first company, Reset. Two years after that, I sold the company. Stockpickr from beginning to end was about two years. I traded for hedge funds about two years. I only stayed in graduate school about two years before I was so burnt out they threw me out.

Does this mean I should stop doing the blog? No, of course not. But the feelings of burnout are natural. They are natural for me. They are natural for you. It’s the body’s way of saying, “Whoops! Time is up. You need to make a change.” Something has to happen. If you stay doing what you are doing, you will regress. If I stick with this exact routine, quality will go down. I know it. So something has to change.

I don’t know what it is. You don’t know what you have to change either. That’s why we are experiencing burnout.

When you say “burnout” it really means you have two problems. One is that you have high expectations of yourself to achieve something. Two is that you did not meet those expectations so now you are unhappy. So the answer is, stop being so hard on yourself. Why the high expectations? Did someone teach you that life would be bad unless you always set yourself up for such high expectations that you were bound to be ultimately disappointed?

Don’t be upset at yourself for experiencing burnout. Be thankful.

If a child didn’t have nerves in his fingers then he wouldn’t know that the barbecue was hot. A child is thankful for those nerve cells. Burnout is your mind touching a hot stove and the mind’s nerve cells are reacting. Hence: “Burn” out. Pull your hand a way. Stay healthy. Continue the Daily Practice. Don’t be afraid of change. Change doesn’t mean loss. It doesn’t have to mean stepping back. It just means “change”.

And then wait. Take walks. Stay away from the computer as much as possible. Eat well. Change your routine. Your routine is designed (correctly) to make sure the unconscious stays out of your process. You didn’t need it. Now you do. So by mixing up your routine, you let your unconscious come in and tell you what it thinks you need to be doing now.

If you respect the burnout, trust that you are not in total control of your universe, be grateful that you live in a world that allows for change and continue all aspects of your daily practice (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual health), then only good things will happen. They might be small changes. They might be rejuvenated energy and creativity. They might be 180 degree changes. You and I just don’t know what they are yet. Surrender to it.