Have you ever felt burned out while you were living your dream? Have you been deeply satisfied by your work while still experiencing fatigue?
If this resonates, the first thing to do is reevaluate how you complete your work. For example, I was balancing a ton of speaking engagements before the pandemic. I traveled constantly and was on the road for about 80% of the year. The work aligned with my purpose, but the way I went about it left me depleted. I missed out on time with family and didn’t get as much time to focus on my health. Then, the pandemic hit and disrupted my routine.
That shift showed me that things were out of balance. I made changes and gave myself permission to let go of some activities and hold onto others. The result was a net gain—I remembered how much I enjoy the work that I do.
The second thing you must do is ask yourself if you are in a bad cycle. For many reasons, good people get stuck in bad patterns. Maybe you believe the only way to get ahead is to work harder than anyone else—it’s not. This type of belief is a trap that can leave you feeling off-kilter.
Here are several ways to recover from burnout:
Streamline the process
I had to figure out how to do this. It may be time for you to consider hosting group meetings instead of one-on-ones or establishing a chain of command that takes you out of the weeds. Find ways to do less and maximize your impact.
Focus on your strengths
In your sphere of influence, what makes tiny waves and what makes giant waves? I call these low-vibration and high-vibration activities. Dedicate yourself to the work that’s going to build massive momentum. Don’t prioritize 500 tasks. Pick one, two or three big needle movers and give them your full focus.
Just because it’s work you love—for a purpose you believe in—doesn’t mean it stops being work. Work is demanding. Work is hard. You need things to look forward to. That may be a weekend getaway with friends, a daily 20-minute catnap or an end-of-year trip. Give yourself a rewarding benchmark to work toward.
How to recover from burnout? Zoom out
It’s possible for the purpose-driven outlook to turn into tunnel vision. Remember that you are a human with myriad needs: body, mind, relationships, fulfillment. You can’t starve one part of yourself and not expect it to be hungry. Make balanced deposits into all your needs and you’ll develop endurance, gratitude and contentment.
If you are caught living by default, going through the motions or feeling the pain of unmet needs… just stop. The only way life stays the same is if you don’t question it. Find a safe space. Get to the bottom of why you feel the way you do. You have permission to feel that way. You also have the strength to keep growing and ultimately recover from burnout.
Photo courtesy of Nick Santonastasso.