The angry noise of my alarm clock jolts me out of my sleep.
I drag myself out of bed and walk in slow motion to the bathroom.
My mind is still heavy from lack of sleep as I hurriedly wash and dress.
I sit hugging a cup of coffee and stare dispassionately out of the kitchen window.
It’s early and the city is just rousing.
The only sound is the rain pitter-pattering against the glass.
There is a 2 hour commute ahead of me but I’m trying not to think about it.
I imagine the day ahead.
My stomach drops.
It’s the end of the month and I’ll be meeting the director to update him on my team’s performance.
It’s a frantic time but my staff have done well.
My boss will praise me and tell me about the big bonus I can expect.
I’ll smile, nod and try to look happy all the while knowing that I don’t really care.
The truth is I stopped caring long ago.
Only the money is keeping me here.
Even though I’m exhausted I know that I have to keep going.
So I stifle the quiet voice inside me. It’s like an echo from another time and place, crying out desperately.
This job is not for me.
With each day that passes, the feeling of dread grows and grows. And I hear that voice again;
This job is not for me.
I go through the motions. I coach my staff. I attend networking events. I even laugh at my co-workers’ banal jokes.
I’m afraid of being found out.
Yet still that voice haunts me.
This job is not for me.
So today I stop and decide to listen.
My inner voice whispers to me.
You can do better than this. You can do something that makes you happy.
I’m startled but it gets me thinking.
Could I get another job? One that’s closer to home and less demanding?
I share my thoughts with a friend.
You don’t want another job she says, and tells me about Mary, who is making money from a blog.
That’s it, I think, that’s what I want to do.
This is how my life shift started.
I didn’t know it at the time, but that was moment when the veil lifted.
My burnout had sparked something deep inside me that changed the course of my life forever. It can do the same for you if you let it.
Burnout Is Not Stress
Burnout is a term that is used loosely these days. It’s often confused with stress but there’s a big difference between the two.
Stress is usually short-term.
If you are working on a project with an impending deadline chances are you will feel stressed for a few weeks.
But once that deadline has passed, your stress will lighten or disappear altogether.
Burnout on the other hand is a slow burn.
It can creep up on you slowly and before you know it, you feel overwhelmed, emotional and can’t stop crying.
If you’ve ever experienced any of the symptoms of burnout, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Burnout changes your outlook on life and your situation gradually worsens over time.
Left unchecked, burnout can drain you of energy, leaving you feeling lost, lonely and depressed.
You find yourself feeling disconnected from your job, as if you are simply going through the motions. Unlike stress, these feelings do not go away but seem to gain in intensity as time goes on.
You start making excuses to miss work. You become more easily irritated with your colleagues and, inevitably, thinking more and more about quitting your job.
Burnout doesn’t only affect you at work either.
It often spills over into other areas of your life and if it isn’t brought under control can wreak havoc on your relationships with friends and family.
Use Burnout As A Catalyst
Job burnout can be a powerful catalyst to help you change your life. All you need is a little courage to face it head on. Here are a few ways that you can turn your burnout into a force for good.
#1. Take Care Of Yourself
Many women spend their lives caring for others and supporting friends and loved ones to such an extent that they forget to look after themselves.
It’s only when they suddenly fall ill that they are forced to slow down and take stock.
Right before my burnout experience, I was burning the candle at both ends.
My life revolved around work and I had very little life-work balance. So when I was hit by a severe candida outbreak, I knew it was a wake-up call.
On a very simple level, life was telling me to slow down and practice some self-love.
My body was crying out for me to rest, let things go and develop a new way of eating and drinking.
In her famous book You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay links physical health with their mental patterns. She tells us that candida is caused by feeling very scattered, and lots of frustration and anger.
Although it’s important not to generalize, I believe that in my case this was definitely true.
#2. Manage Your Stress Levels
Burnout forced me to reevaluate how I dealt with stress.
Stress is part of life and I don’t believe you can eliminate it entirely, only learn to manage it better.
My experience with job burnout encouraged me to look at ways to relieve tension naturally.
This led me to yoga, journaling and meditation, practices that all helped me reflect more deeply about my life and understand my place in the world.
As I started documenting my feelings and turning within, I became more aware of what I wanted out of life, whom I wanted to spend my time with and how I could make a bigger impact on the planet.
These are all great questions to ask if you want to consciously design your life.
#3. Change How You Feel About Your Job
If you are experiencing burnout, it’s important to change how you feel about your current job.
Although I believe you should never work for other people, there are times when you have to get a job in order to survive or get to the next stage in your life.
If you find yourself in this situation then you must carefully monitor your thoughts so you don’t sabotage your success.
Our thoughts affect the direction our lives take.
If you are feeling anger and resentment towards your job, your colleagues and the people you are supposed to be serving, know that you are actually attracting more negativity towards you.
You are also making it far harder to springboard into your dream life.
Instead, focus your mind on positive thoughts.
Be grateful for the people in your life who love you and for all the things you do have, including a job that you no longer love and the lessons that come your way.
This is how to experience miracles in your life. And this was the key lesson my burnout taught me.
I stopped hating my job and was thankful for the income it gave me that allowed me to feed and clothe myself. I also took a step back and looked at my job with a new set of eyes.
Instead of complaining to friends and family, I changed how I interacted with others, and shifted my thoughts to service and giving value.
For instance, whenever I was with a client, I asked myself how I could serve them better and challenged myself to make a difference.
I reminded myself daily of the value I brought to my workplace and made sure I performed my job to the best of my ability from the moment I arrived until the minute I left.
As you can see, these weren’t big things.
They were small, subtle tweaks that no one probably even noticed.
But they created a vibrational shift in me, which helped me cope with the demands of my job, alleviated my feelings of burnout and melted away the obstacles on my path to my new life.
Burnout has been my greatest teacher and guide, that’s why I urge you to change how you feel about it.
Don’t let yourself be defined by your struggle. Use how you feel to motivate you towards your dreams and make the necessary adjustments along the way.
If you feel weary, rest.
If you need to take better care of yourself, do so.
If you want to talk to someone, go ahead.
But above all, take charge of your thoughts and develop a positive outlook about your current position.
Simple tweaks to your daily routine or habitual ways of thinking can help make your situation more bearable while you develop and implement a strategy for the life you really want.
Be sure to envision the kind of life that makes you happy on a daily basis as well.
It might require some deep thinking to crystallize what you want but once you have this image in your mind, find out what it will take to get you there.
You will probably have to take many small steps to get there so appreciate the income from your job that is helping you springboard into whatever you truly want to do.
The first goal is to manage your stress levels and understand the transformative power of your burnout. Then figure out what you love doing that you can build a business around.
When your mind is at peace, everything else will fall into place.
Have you ever experienced burnout? How did you deal with it? What key thing has it taught you?