Finally, I got the job of my dreams. I was working full time with a well respected NGO. I was advocating for women who had suffered domestic abuse, making sure they got the things they needed and deserved in life. I truly believed in this work. I had been working up to this moment for years, studying, volunteering, going for numerous interviews. But two years into the job I felt numb. I burnt out.
Burn out leaves you feeling empty. The passion that drove me to where I was seemed to dissipate and I was left with no feelings of growth, or even achievement, despite doing the work I was doing. It was awful.
When you burn out you feel like a failure, and you feel like a bit of a fraud too because you’ve gone head long into something, telling everyone around you how perfect this opportunity is for you, and then, tail between your legs, you have to surrender and say ‘I give up’.
Which is what I did. But by surrendering to burn out I opened a new door.
I left my job and embarked on a personal development journey that took me to places emotionally that I had never dreamed of. I employed a coach, I did some new training with The Coaches Training Institute, I read books by Danielle LaPorte, Tony Robbins, Jess Ainscough, James Redfield, Gabby Bernstein and Deepak Chopra. I took up meditation, yoga, cycling and swimming. Taking these actions meant I started looking after myself and learning myself on a deeper level. Which, basically, re-ignited my flame.
Over the past six months my internal flame that had burnt out has grown bigger, brighter and is like an internal engine room. It feeds my actions so I now know that as I go for more dreams, I can do so sustainably.
Here are five truths I learnt about burn out along the way:
Burn out truth #1
Burn out happens to passionate people.
If you’ve burnt out it means you probably threw your whole self into something, you are not a failure, in fact you’re a success for having the guts to try it in the first place.
Burn out truth #2
Burn out is temporary.
Although it feels powerless to be burnt out, once you acknowledge it’s happening, you can then make changes in your life to move on.
Burn out truth #3
Life doesn’t have to be complicated to be fulfilling.
People who burn out often have a lot of thoughts whizzing round in their head. Society would have us believe we need to be doing loads of things in order to achieve success. The opposite is in fact true. In order to achieve real success the trick is to slow life down.
Burn out truth #4
If you look after yourself as a priority, you can then get on with making the change you’re meant to make in this world.
Often people who burn out prioritise making others happy. This is an amazing quality, but in order to achieve this in a sustainable way, the focus firstly has to be on you, and then you’re energised to support those around you.
Burn out truth #5
After burn out, the flame comes back bigger, brighter and in a more sustainable way.
If you acknowledge you have burnt out and bring in support to help you through it in the form of a coach, books, meditation, yoga, you will have more tools in your toolbox to move on in life. See burn out as a gift, an opportunity to stop, recoup, change gear, and go on another adventure with a renewed energy and a more sustainable internal flame.