It’s your choice.
Burnout sometimes charges into your life. Sometimes it sneaks up on you.
Serious burnout results from the interplay of circumstances and personality. Circumstances such as your job, financial and relationship stresses. Personality factors such as ambition/drive, altruism, and degree of comfort in setting boundaries.
Your health plays a role too, especially if you are dealing with or susceptible to depression and anxiety.
The first step to dealing with something is always to acknowledge you have a problem. If you continue to think you have to “tough it out”, or that ignoring it will make it go away, you will continue to have episodes of burnout.
Advice along the lines of “just stop” is often unhelpful. Stopping is not always feasible. Some people don’t have the option of quitting their jobs or leaving difficult relationships. Nevertheless, all things in life occur because of the choices, compromises and trade-offs we make, and this applies to burnout as much as anything else.
How do you trade burnout for balance?
To begin, you need to understand what “balance” is going to be for you. Balance can be static or dynamic. People who prefer static balance like to schedule everything, and may place limits on the amount of time they will devote to a given activity in a given time period in order to maintain their schedules. They place a high priority on keeping to their schedules.
People who prefer dynamic balance will devote more time to work, for example, in one week and more to personal needs in another week; their balance point shifts to reflect changes in their priorities.
Your balance needs to take into account the degree to which your prefer static balance versus dynamic. It also needs to reflect your values and priorities. In an ideal world, your priorities align with your values. For example, if time with your family is your number one value, it should also have a high priority.If you examine how you set priorities and what you spend the most time on, and compare these to your list of values, it can show you where you are out of balance. You are then in a better position to make decisions about how you structure your time or whether you need to re-evaluate your priorities.
What about the role your health plays?
Many chronic conditions have their roots in lifestyle and dietary choices, or are at least influenced by them. You could think of these aspects as the “life” part in the work-life balance equation. If you are allowing heath-supporting habits such as regular exercise, a wholesome diet and adequate rest to rank highly on your list of life priorities, then you have “programmed” your life balance in favor of good health.
Look at other things that can help to help you strike the right balance:
- an honest self-assessment of the factors that are leading you to burnout, and a commitment to act on the ones you can
- implementing a set of regular routines (times for sleep and getting up, mealtimes, etc) to support physical recovery
- learning how to shift your perspective to manage stress and make it easier to say “No” when required
Wayne Dyer says:
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
It’s true, and completely under your control.