Feeling Burned Out? Ask Yourself This One Simple Question…
A couple of weeks ago, I admitted that I was feeling a little burned out. Simply saying as much, out loud, to myself and to you guys, helped a lot. I’ve always been a believer in quality over quantity, and when you don’t feel passionate, your writing reflects that. It was clearly time to ease off the pressure, so that’s what I’ve been doing.
I’ve been taking long walks, carrying my camera everywhere, and lying in bed reading books. I bought plants, performed rituals, and framed up some art with the help of my husband.
I’ve been doodling and drinking ginger ale, painting my nails neon pink, watching old episodes of Sex And The City, and trying not to spend my entire day in front of my laptop. (It’s harder than I thought it would be!)
What I really wanted to know, though, was how could I heal my burnout? In other words, what could I do to remove the shackles that were preventing me from leaping joyfully into my next task?
It turns out that all you need to do is ask yourself a question: What is it about my work that I am resenting?1
Resentment is a huge energy-suck. Resentment leeches all the joy out of what you’re doing, Resentment can transform the most euphoric act of service into feelings of torment and wretchedness.
Make a list of the things you resent doing. Some of the things you come up with, like paying taxes, you just have to make peace with… Unless you pull an L. Ron Hubbard and create a church to avoid the IRS.2 But some of the things you write down will be things you need to take responsibility for. If you resent answering endless emails or fussing around with administrative tasks, you have to own that! Get some boundaries. Hire an assistant! If one of your side projects doesn’t feel good anymore, jump off that train! Find a way to outsource it, or find a way to make it fun.
No matter what it is that you feel resentment towards, there is a way to fix it. You can figure it out. But the question — what is it about my work that I am resenting? — is an essential one. If you can’t answer it, you’ll keep leaking energy, and you’ll keep burning out, over and over again.
If you’re feeling burned out right now, I know it feels like hell, but trust me: this too shall pass. You won’t be burned out forever. You’ll be bubbling with creative ideas, enthusiasm and passion again soon. But I really recommend asking yourself what you’re resenting — both in your work and in your personal life. Get honest. Tell yourself the truth. And then go out there and do something about it.
Photos of Adriana Lima by Ellen Von Unwerth for Vogue Brasil.