It’s become normal – and something of a bragging point – to be able to point at how hard you’re working. It’s like we’ve confused being burnt out with being successful.
The second we adopted social media as a staple in our lives, we also adopted a highly visible way of life. We find ourselves enmeshed in a need to prove our worth, to show how busy and successful we are … every minute of every day.
It creates a false environment.
Our minds are in overdrive, constantly working through how to best position the smallest piece of news to give it maximum effect in the public space.
But the reality is that we don’t actually enjoy our moments in life. We don’t really experience the little things anymore. Why? Because we’re constantly locked in a mindset of comparison.
Living like this not only sees you living under constant stress, but it’s also completely exhausting. And when you allow these two elements to continually run in your life, you’re heading straight for burnout.
Here are 9 common lies we tell ourselves that force us onto a direct collision course with burnout:
- If you stop what you’re doing, you’ll be letting everyone down.
All of us juggle way too many balls, and we’re always saying ‘yes’ to people, projects and responsibilities that we’re not interested in, and that we really don’t enjoy doing, often because we’re wired to be part of community and to be of service. This leaves us overworked and overwhelmed and both cause significant levels of stress.
Working out what’s important to you, and identifying the things you really enjoy doing, is really important. Then, teach yourself to say ‘no’ to the things that don’t make these lists, so you can easily fit things into your day and create a balance in the things you need to get done every day.
- If you don’t do it, it won’t get done.
This is a big one! So many of us step into being a martyr, attaching ourselves to the story of ‘I was the only one willing to get this done’. The reality is, as long as you keep saying ’yes’ no one else needs to step in and complete a task, nor do they ever get the opportunity to have a turn at completing the task.
Get comfortable with allowing a period of silence to occur when someone says there’s something that needs to get done. When you don’t immediately step in, someone else will take the space. Doing this makes it easier for you to not always be taking too much on.
- You have to work long hours or you won’t get ahead in your career.
Because we live in a highly visible world, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you always have to look busy for you to be seen to be successful. Unless your definition of success is always being exhausted and running yourself into the ground, forcing yourself to work longer and longer hours doesn’t help you get ahead in your career … it simply makes you stressed and exhausted, and it puts pressure on your health and wellbeing.
Instead, start to work out how you can manage your energy in better ways so that you always feel like you have lots of energy. Then you can channel that energy to help you achieve so much more.
- If you sacrifice now, you’ll benefit later.
‘No pain, no gain’, right? WRONG!! The more you push yourself, and force yourself to work harder, the closer you take yourself to experiencing burnout. Being stressed and exhausted all the time because you’ve sacrificed looking after yourself now to give everything to your job doesn’t get you ahead. In fact, it’s more likely to set you behind.
When you push the boundaries of your health, you’re actually gambling that you’re not going to push yourself past a breaking point. And there’s the rub: the thing with breaking points is that they’re not visible; they just happen. When you break, it’s never a slight facture; it’s always a significant event and it always takes a significant period of time to recover from.
Set your life up so that your health and wellbeing are just as important as everything else you do and you’ll benefit now, as well as later.
- It’s only costing you some ‘time’.
You’re just giving up a bit of time to get things done … aren’t you? If you’re already overworked and overwhelmed, then time is a precious commodity. Why would you willingly give it away without a thought? Throwing time away unconsciously adds significant pressure to your life, and pressure brings stress and exhaustion. It’s like a fast-track to burnout.
Start to get really conscious with the way you allocate your time. Spend it wisely and move away from things that use it in ways that aren’t serving you.
- You don’t have time to do what you enjoy.
We feel the pressure of getting ahead in our careers so keenly that it’s like living in a pressure cooker that needs to let off steam. To cope with this, we start to prioritise the things we have to do for everyone else, and we start to drop off the things that are for us.
While this might create time and space initially, the problem is that we continue to say ‘yes’ too often and before we know it, everything we’re doing is for everyone else and there’s nothing left in our lives that provides fuel and inspiration for ourselves.
When you understand the power you have when your health and wellbeing is a priority, you start to see the possibilities and opportunities you’re missing out on by dismissing the things you enjoy doing. Feed your health and wellbeing by making it a priority and giving it as much attention as you give to everything else.
- You have to isolate yourself to get the work done.
Life is noisy and chaotic, and it can feel like it’s hard to concentrate with everything swirling around you. Sometimes, it feels like the only way to get things done is to isolate yourself so you can find some peace and quiet. Some of us also feel like the act of isolating ourselves can protect the people we care about from the stress of the load we’re carrying.
The problem is, when you create physical and emotional distance from your family and friends, it makes it harder to communicate. It also places you in an isolation bubble where your view and perspective of life can become skewed.
There’s a great deal of research showing the results of being stressed and exhausted for long periods of time and the effect on mental health. Staying connected with your immediate circle is critical to your health and wellbeing.
- You can do it all on your own.
Sometimes, when you’re under pressure, it can feel like it’s so much easier – and quicker – if you just do it yourself. We’ve also been taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness, and in today’s highly visible way of life we don’t want to do something that might make us look like we’re falling behind.
Trying to do everything, for everyone, all of the time accelerates your face-to-face meeting with burnout. The more pressure you put yourself under, the more stress you experience, and when this happens you trigger physical and emotional responses in your body that affect how your physical and energetic systems operate. The longer you let these run out of control, the more quickly you’ll find yourself in an up close and personal relationship with burnout.
Instead, learn to share the load. Ask someone to help you. Let go of the things, people, places and projects (or parts of them) that suck your energy and make you feel tired. The more you share and let go, the more you can accomplish and succeed.
- You have to be perfect … all the time.
The very definition of perfection shows that it’s unachievable. There is no perfect. There is simply the very best you can do in any one moment. Letting go of perfectionism isn’t about not wanting or caring about doing a good job anymore. It’s about accepting the unique and extraordinary human that you are and celebrating the achievements and success that come naturally as a result.
Focus on finding the attributes and characteristics that make you uniquely you. What is it you find so simple to do, that others find amazing? Know, without any doubt, the contribution you bring to everything you do. And just as importantly, know that perfectionism doesn’t have a place in your life anymore.
We don’t have to be stressed or exhausted to get ahead. Burnout isn’t a badge of honour; there are no awards given to you when you’re in the depths of your recovery. Life isn’t about being the best survivor, it’s about finding the way to thrive so you can allow the best version of yourself to shine.
Give your health and wellbeing the position in your life it deserves, because doing that is truly the simplest pathway to success.
Want more info on ways you can start to give your health and wellbeing a more prominent place in your life? There are loads of tips and practical information to help you work out what’s perfect for you in my books – you can buy your copy by clicking here.
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This article first appeared on Thrive Global in March 2021. You can read the article by clicking here.