How to Prevent a Burn Out

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“Hi... My schedule is pretty insane! How do you juggle all of the important tasks in a single week? It seems as if there is not enough time in a day and none of my tasks are optional for me! I find myself exhausted and unable to meet all of the goals I set. Any feedback on the way you navigate your busy schedule would be awesome!” —Katelyn

Oh my goodness Katelyn, can I ever relate to the feelings of overwhelm! I can't say that I've learned how to have a perfect balance all the time, but I get overwhelmed much less often than I used to.  

Each of us is going to operate differently, but I have two non-negotiable things that go hand in hand with having a productive day: 

1. The first one is to get up an hour earlier. This changes everything. (Read about my 8 PRACTICAL STEPS TO ESTABLISH THE POWERFUL HABIT OF WAKING UP EARLY)

2. The second one is to write down the three things that are a priority for me to get done that day. I try to do the hardest thing first. 

THE ART OF SPINNING YOUR PLATES

Let's think of all our tasks as spinning plates for a moment. One of my mentors taught me that in life, while you are spinning many plates, some plates will fall. Your job is to make sure it’s not the same plate every time. 

For example — if I miss going to the gym today, I can’t let my "exercise plate" to drop the next time I’m supposed to go. If I didn’t get to spend as much quality time with my daughter as much as I’d like to one weekend, I don’t want to let that plate drop again the next. Plates will drop — just make sure it’s not the same plate all the time. 

Life can be described as the fine art of learning how to spin our plates well. 

FINDING YOUR PRIORITIES

Priorities are so important. They are like the sticks that are holding my spinning plates. Instead of shooting for perfection, I aim for the best that I can be with the right priorities in place. If I get my priorities mixed up, everything goes down the crapper real quick, as my dad would say. 

My priorities are to have soul time and self-care, then my daughter’s wellbeing, and then everything else… That order keeps me straight, but sometimes I drop one of my sticks and everything comes crashing down shortly thereafter. It happens. 

PREVENTING A BURN OUT

Ultimately, you’re responsible for what you say yes to. I think this is important to talk about in this struggle of trying to do all the things that we need to do and finding a balance. 

This spring I volunteered with a program that was working with men and women who were coming out of incarceration and homelessness. It wasn’t easy stuff, so a group of us met to be trained and equipped for the work we were doing.

Our leader spent most of one session teaching us about self-care and it’s importance. At the beginning of our session, he said, "I have no tolerance for burn out."

That took me back. My first reaction was to feel resentful toward others for all my own moments of burn out.  

He went on to teach us about the importance of making self-care a priority. “You are responsible not to burn out. Communicate what your needs are and stick to them and we'll honor that. Don't act resentful because you're doing more than you should be doing. For example — I don't want to see your face in here if you really need to be spending an evening at home with your family.” 

That made so much sense to me, but I’ve never before had a leader help me understand this or respect my own boundaries of self-care. More often, I’ve felt like I’m expected to work very hard to prove myself and then it’s still just not enough. I always feel like I’m pouring much more in than I’m getting out. 


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Give yourself permission to say No.

“Let today mark a new beginning for you. Give yourself permission to say NO without feeling guilty, mean, or selfish. Anybody who gets upset and/or expects you to say YES all of the time clearly doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Always remember: You have a right to say NO without having to explain yourself. Be at peace with your decisions.” ― Stephanie Lahart

Find THE COURAGE TO SAY "NO"

Saying no takes a lot of courage. But I’ve been learning to say it a lot more. I have less and less guilt over saying no. I don’t feel guilty for not sprinting to get things done when no one else is that motivated. Don’t get me wrong, I love digging my heels in and working hard. But I really don’t have the need to exert myself in situations where that effort isn’t matched or valued, unless I genuinely want to.

There's been a total shift in my priorities this year and it's giving me so much life. What gets my priority now? I say yes to more of the things that I really want to say yes to! I allow myself to pour most of my passion and energy into things that feed my soul and enrich my personal relationships.

I’m no longer burning myself out to gain the approval of others or to gain material success. And guess what? I'm more effective in my life than I've ever been before. 

LEARN TO PACE YOURSELF ACCORDING TO YOUR OWN BEST PACE

Knowing our limits is ultimately on us, not on anyone else. For some of us, I think it's extra hard to know what those limits are. Knowing our limits doesn’t mean that we should stay comfortable at all times, because that’s not realistic and honestly, that's not how we’ll grow.

This spring, my doctor said to me, "I can tell you're a total go-getter, and that's not a bad thing. My dad always told me that we go-getters are like motorcycle riders. When you ride a motorcycle too slow, it'll fall over and you'll be crushed by the weight of it. If you ride it too fast, you'll spin out of control and risk dying. But when you learn to ride your motorcycle at the right speed, that baby will handle like butter and you'll get where you need to go." 

All of us are capable of far more than we realize. Often I function the BEST when I'm driving my motorcycle faster than the average person... but I need to know how long I can ride at that speed before taking a breather. I need to know when it's time to slow down when I see a curve up ahead. For us go-getters, this pacing thing is so important. We need to know how fast we can go while still maintaining our health. The best way to really learn is through trial and error.


DRAW GOOD BOUNDARIES

Making boundaries are the most difficult when we must make them with family members, those we love, and those we work with every day. It's vital to understand that boundaries protect not only your health, but the health of your relationships with others.

Remember, when someone gets upset by your “no”, your boundaries, that’s where their respect for you ends. That’s really a moment of truth. Their ending of respect for you doesn’t mean they’re bad, they just don’t have the same awareness as you do. You don’t have to convince them of anything — but you’re free to keep on living your life. Maybe they’ll eventually come around, maybe they won’t. Your happiness and your worth shouldn't depend on how they feel about you or whether they see you as an equal. You don't need anyone else to validate you.

LIVE YOUR LIFE WITH MORE INTENTION AND SIMPLICITY

Each of our needs and goals are going to be different, yet all of our lives become more effective when we aim to live each day with more intention and simplicity.

To wrap this up, here are few quick time saving AND self-care tips:

  • Make a schedule for yourself in Asana or a planner so you have a good overview of all your tasks and reoccurring duties 

  • Use Amazon Prime to buy household items

  • Use grocery stores' "pick up" feature to save an hour on doing your own grocery shopping

  • Make a priority list of things to get done each day

  • Park further away so you get more exercise by walking more

  • Drink more water when you're craving a snack

  • Write someone a handwritten note during lunch today instead of scrolling on social media

  • Listen to a TED talk on a topic you don't know anything about while you're driving

  • Make plans to not do anything one night each week. When people ask you if you have plans, you can truthfully say yes. Your plan is to do nothing and you're allowed to do this. 

  • Choose to get exercise over folding the laundry when you're short on time — it's always going to be worth it to take care of your body first, which will give you the health and energy to do more of the other things

Find your priorities, draw your boundaries and spin those plates, sister. You've got this.