For the past few weeks I’ve been hard at work… oh that dirty word for Projectors… “Work”… Yes I do that to maintain and grow my business. As you may know, the work experience for Projectors is often a very different thing from how the rest of the world experiences it. Yet it often looks the same. We Projectors usually need lots of space and downtime as we go about our money making opportunities. And I thought I was doing that until I had an epiphany! Last week I wrote this post about that over at the Coaching With Sandy blog, and I think it bears repeating here. The path to burnout starts out faintly and this little realization may help you to recognize it way before it takes full hold.
Reprinted from www.coachingwithsandy.com
Don’t Ever Take Time Off Because This Will Happen
I was having a wonderful day off not long ago. My usual intake of internet stimuli had been drastically reduced, and I had all intentions of floating through my day with hardly a thought about work. Surely my business could survive for just 24 hours without me hovering over it, wallowing in it and doting on it. Well one would think that would be easy right? After all, my automatic tweets, social media updates and email responses were up to date. Appointments had been scheduled and confirmed, and I was at a place in my latest creation where I could stop. And actually I needed to stop and take a rest… do something else, like actually make a meal by using the stove and maybe even do a little gardening to get my hands in the dirt.
So I want to share what happened next with you because I bet it has happened to you. I got all relaxed… took a leisurely walk, got a massage, and then took another leisurely walk… just because I could… and POW! I got just relaxed enough that the creative ideas started pouring in. All those pieces I needed for my next creative project were floating through the wall I had hit just the night before. Ugh! I was supposed to be resting and giving my mind and body a break. Instead I was spending my precious energy trying to resist sitting at my desk and letting it all flow in. Panic set in. If I ended my time off early so I could work on this project some more, then I wouldn’t get the rest I knew I needed to actually complete it. If I just let the ideas flow through me they might not come back in the brilliant way that they first appeared. So I compromised and jotted down some notes to review the next day. That satisfied me a bit. But my mind, which had only just moments before been in a blissful state of relaxation, was in work mode again. And there was no stopping it this time. My body also responded to the high alert of this creative download and was ready to jump back in the desk chair, buckle up and ride this thing all the way home. I did manage to restrain myself from going for it, but in the gyrations that it took to keep me out of the office I had a major epiphany about why this happens and what it means and why it’s a bad idea to succumb to the temptation to work when you need to be resting.
Well it’s probably not news to you that the creative juices get flowing when the body and mind are relaxed. So I created that situation by allowing myself to relax… or so that’s what logic would say. And yes it is true, it was the backing off and letting my guard down that actually allowed the ideas to come. But here’s the epiphany part… The creative flow that I experienced was actually a teeny tiny signal that I was on a slow descent into burnout. Yes burnout! … that dirty word that makes you exhausted just from thinking about it. It was a signal that I had not been giving myself enough rest and space on a regular basis. Sure I was giving myself a day off. And actually I had been forcing myself to take a day off in the middle of the week to avoid burnout. But the truth is that if I had been giving myself what I needed to be relaxed all the time, I wouldn’t have had to force myself to rest. I would have been well rested and in a perpetual state of relaxation.
So what happened was kind of like slowly turning off the flow of water to your house. I had very subtly shut down the flow of my creative life-force by pushing a tiny bit here and resisting a little rest there. And when I turned on my faucet by taking a day off, what rushed out was a backlog of pent up creative energy. You know how when the water gets turned off at your house you turn on the faucet and what had built up comes rushing out? When you let it run for a while it runs dry. That’s kind of like what happens in this very early warning state of burnout. So if I had allowed the flow to continue in that moment it wouldn’t be long until it all ran out. That’s what burnout is… a lack of flow because the source is depleted. I was a ways from becoming totally depleted, but if I had not seen this cue and had that epiphany, eventually the core of me would have run dry.
Don’t let this happen to you. Listen to your subtle cues. Don’t succumb to your second winds. Give yourself lots of breaks everyday, whenever you need them, with no hesitation or apologies. When you do this the big days off won’t be riddled with the rush of backed up life-force which only gets to come out when you force yourself to rest. Let it flow all the time and give it plenty of space to spread out.
Everyone is designed to work and rest in a different way.
Discover your unique burnout prevention strategy. – Work With Sandy Freschi