Burnout and Appreciation



Here we are, getting close to another holiday season.  This last week I've had curiously many conversations that started with talking about the holidays and locked into feeling burned out and tired.  And not really looking forward to the holidays because it is just another thing to do.  Sound familiar?

I've been thinking along those lines myself and I've been feeling silly about it.  Burnout?Me?  Here I am, having an amazing life, career, wife, dog, friends, in short, I am doing everything I love, all the things I sought to do AND...  I am tired!

For many of us who are working in careers we love, the thought that burnout could affect us sounds ludicrous.  Why should we get tired of doing something we love?  And where has the excitement gone?  How come I can't find my next goal?  How come I can't think of anything I want to do?

The answer may be different for everybody, but here is mine:

First, slow down enough that you can appreciate everything you have already done! Be with what is already here.  Sit in your creation.  Breathe in your accomplishment.  Really appreciating often makes us see that it is much bigger than we have given ourselves credit for.  Notice the fine details.  Look long enough until you find yourself smiling.

Appreciation will release energy and give you breath.  Once you feel some energy flowing again, give yourself permission to notice the big picture.  What is the first thing that comes up?  Anything missing? Is there an empty spot that begs completion?  In this place of recovering, only pay attention to what sounds even a tiny bit inspiring.  Even just doable is a good first step.  Note this and do nothing.

Before you do anything else, the best recipe I know for healing burnout is: learn something new!  Learn something that is completely unrelated to what you do all day.  It doesn't have to be big or important, just something new!  Using a different part of your brain and your body is a great way to shed much of your stored up resistance and expectations that are getting in the way of loving what you already do.

And then go back to your inspired next step, give it a whirl and notice the difference.

SOUL FOOD Everybody on earth knowing that beauty is beautiful makes ugliness.

Everybody knowing that goodness is good makes wickedness

For being and nonbeing arise together; hard and easy complete each other; long and short shape each other; high and low depend on each other; note and voice make the music together; before and after follow each other.

That's why the wise soul does without the doing, teaches without the talking.

The things of this world exist, they are: you can't refuse them.

To bear and not to own; to act and not lay claim; to do the work and let it go: for letting it go is what makes it stay.

--lao tzu: tao te ching, translated by Ursula K. Le Guin