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Dealing with Burnout

Last week I attended a huge technology conference in Toronto called Collision. The energy at Collision was palpable. So many people gathered to promote, invest, and grow their businesses.

You know what surprised me, though? One word, heard multiple times, from panels, presentations, and workshops:

Burnout.

I heard it from people at every stage in their career.

  • Start-up founders complained of burning the candle at both ends.
  • Investors felt compelled to discover the next big thing.
  • Companies in the growth phase spoke of not having enough or the right resources.

While burnout sounds endemic to the tech industry, it certainly exists elsewhere. I’ve experienced it myself and perhaps you have too.

Burning Out

Burnout happens when you’ve exhausted your fuel. Without that energy source, you can’t keep going. Hence, you “burn out.”

You need to know when your energy source gets depleted, so you can prevent burnout.

Think of your energy as a fire. Fires have four (4) stages: spark (initial), kindling (building), logs (maintaining), and ashes (burnt out). By paying attention to which phase you’re in, you can stay fueled.

Stage 1: Sparks

All beginnings – new job, relationship, event – start with a spark. Whether it’s a speck in your eye or a fully-fledged idea, you feel it as a rush of energy.

For introverts, sparks typically come from within (think of “a-ha moments”) and for extroverts, sparks occur through interactions, conversations with others. Ambiverts experience sparks both ways, depending on circumstance.

Prevent Spark Burnout by not striking your match too hard. For example, I’ve seen introverts adopt an extrovert exterior and, while that works for a time, it’s not sustainable. Introverts need time to reflect.

Also, be aware of your energy source. Do you get energy from others or do you generate it from within?

Stage 2: Kindling

Kindling fuels the flames of your fire. Good fires need feeding. And so do you.

Feed yourself – fuel your flames – with white space. Allow your mind to wander, to rest, so you can make new connections, find patterns, and let your right brain explore creatively.

A word of caution so you don’t experience Kindling Burnout: you can exhaust yourself spending excessive time thinking instead of doing. Recognize the difference between “perfect” and “good enough.” 80% of the time, good enough is perfectly all right.

Stage 3: Logs

You create better fires by stacking logs rather than using just one. One log burns out quickly; many logs do not.

See logs as people. To maintain your fire, you need people. As social animals, humans work best in conjunction with one another.

Log Burnout happens when you lose perspective. I remember one founder at Collision rued putting all his energy into his start-up at the expense of everything – and everyone – else. He got burnt out because he thought he had to build his start-up alone.

Working with others gives you alternative viewpoints so you don’t get stuck in your own narrative.

Stage 4: Ashes

Fires give heat, provide magical backdrops for storytelling, and delineate light from dark. Eventually, though, fires burn out.

Like all fires, you too will burn out. I used to assume burnout was “bad”, yet I can see it’s part of the natural cycle of fires.

Consider reframing burnout in a more nuanced way. Burnout can suck and be cathartic, paradoxically.

And you know what else? Phoenixes rise from the ashes of fires.

Header Photo by Tangerine Newt on Unsplash, Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash, Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash, Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash, Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Burnout – Good and Bad

Burnout is both episodic and cyclical, then. People tend to focus on the burnout episodes (bad!) more than seeing it holistically, that is, cyclically.

You can handle periodic episodes of burnout with the tools I’ve shared with you today. Just don’t forget the cyclical nature of fires.

Fires end for a reason … so you can create new ones. When sparks collide, growth begins anew.

You have to be open minded in order to grow. The coaching that Laura gave me opened my eyes to what and how I was doing things and allowed me to see the bigger picture. I am not done yet but I already see the changes in my everyday life.

MM

I think coaching is a great way to help you clear your mind when you get stuck with overwhelming situations or when stepping into changes in your life.

MO

Coaching is life changing. It pushes you outside your comfort zone and challenges your perspectives.  It is highly motivating and the exercises and techniques used are both fun and informative.  I think the main benefits of coaching are to see yourself, others and the world more clearly.  I think coaching is valuable to anyone regardless of where you are in your life or career.

LE

I honestly never thought I’d need a coach. I thought coaching was for CEOs and industry VIPs. I didn’t think it was for the “little guys” (i.e. me). Now, I’m of the belief that everyone – yes, EVERYONE – needs a coach. Coaching has really benefitted me and I’m so grateful to have had that time with Laura. It’s changed my life!

VB

Laura is very patient. She took the time to understand what was causing me to be stuck where I am today and help me build a better vision so I can continue to grow.

MM

I think Laura’s coaching was what I had been waiting for. Laura was so approachable, kind, and open. Her willingness to help and support made a difference for me. I found in her coaching new strategies, ideas, and perspectives that I could incorporate into my goals and objectives that I didn’t see before.

MO

Laura is an incredibly intuitive, positive and caring coach. Her techniques helped me recognize both my strengths and areas I might want to explore as I embark on the next chapter of my career. The exercises she employed were instrumental in providing self perspective and challenging my frames of reference.

LE

Laura is a natural coach. Her probing and compassionate questions helped me learn about myself: my value system, interests, goals and strengths.

LM

Coaching sessions with Laura gave me new perspectives on how to process specific feelings and situations in life.  She showed me how to sit with my emotions, acknowledge them, and then use visualization strategies to move through them.  I now feel more confident and in control of how I choose to walk through life.

CP

From the beginning, Laura put me at ease, creating a safe, open space for me to talk and share freely without fear of judgement. I loved the variety of approaches she used depending on the topic we were working on and it was fun being able to try out things I wouldn’t have considered before! With Laura’s coaching, I substantially grew my confidence in the workplace, overcame fears, dealt with issues I’d been carrying around for many years and, most importantly, learned to value myself and define a path forward into the future.

AG

Laura’s coaching was a breath of fresh air and EXACTLY what I needed at that point of my life. I didn’t realize how impactful coaching was going to be, but by the end of the sessions together, I left feeling refreshed, inspired and genuinely curious about what my future held for me. Because of Laura and her coaching, I believe I became a better person – someone who is more open-minded, someone with a clearer focus, and someone who is willing to explore opportunities and possibilities far more than I ever did before.

VB

I engaged Laura for coaching as I took on an expanded role leading an asset management company in Canada. As a female, I knew I would be a role model and had high expectations of myself. I was feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

In our first few coaching sessions we worked through exercises that allowed me to reflect on my purpose, leadership style and what mattered most to me. I continue to be grounded by the clarity I achieve in my coaching sessions – allowing me to be resilient and confident when challenges came my way.

OS