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How to best navigate career burn out

Career burn out happens to the best of us, and it can be a frustrating and scary state of mind – there are ways to best move forward and save your sanity.

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Navigating career burn out

Entrepreneurs are notorious for pushing the limits – physically, mentally, emotionally, and even creatively. The world is a better place because of it, and it couldn’t be stopped if we tried… and who would want to? Anyone that has experienced the burn out that can come with the obsessive drive required for success, that’s who.

I’ve been there, saw it coming, and made the decision to just push harder because burn out is what happens to other people. Constantly telling myself I was stronger, burn out was just a mindset that was a sign of weakness. Looking in the rearview mirror, the entire process looks differently; it better represents a really bad auto accident in slow motion that you can’t look away from.

As it’s happening, you are in disbelief, looking for and taking every possible maneuver to control the outcome of your present situation. Then, you find yourself upside down in a ditch, wondering what happened and how you got there. You feel scared, nauseated, and tired… the entire world feels surreal and you’re too weak to care what is happening around you.

It never comes at an opportune time in life, and the process can completely rip you apart from the inside out if you let it. The key is to keep perspective, to not let yourself get lost in the emotional trash can that your thoughts create. You are in transition – find something that feels comforting and do that for however long you can or need to.

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How to manage the chaos during your transition

There is no easy answer, except to say that it will take as long as it takes, and in the meantime, manage the chaos along the way.

  • Live. Remember your life is being turned upside down, and the people closest to you cannot relate unless they’ve been through this. So don’t expect them to. Figure out how to communicate where you are emotionally and mentally (leave out the drama that may be going on because ego is not happy).
  • Disconnect. Letting go of ALL responsibility for a short period of time can be VERY helpful (if possible). You have likely been in drive mode for years, and now the system is saying stop, it’s done. Find a way to keep the pieces of your life together AND let go of who you think you are.
  • Accept. Burn out doesn’t go away because you will it to. I found that it takes both action and inaction to get to the other side. Action to keep you moving towards the other side and inaction to allow yourself to heal and see a new path.
  • Read. It doesn’t matter what, just let your mind fantasize again… dream again.
  • Journal. Write every day! Jot down your thoughts, the path that took you to that thought. There is no right or wrong in your journal as long as whatever you are writing is what is in you at that moment.
  • Play. Every chance you get go play, ride a bike, picnic in the park, dance on the sidewalk, smile, and laugh.
  • Plan. Make a plan to get out of the transition space and into your new life – don’t get stuck. Go through your journal and find the pieces that really stand out (either things to stay away from or bring in more of) and plan a lifestyle that honors those lessons.
  • Volunteer. There is nothing more healing than volunteering, serving others, and getting out of the obsessive ‘me’ space.

What did I find on the other side of my burn out? As I come out of the ashes, there is an awareness that what I once thought was a perfect life was years of creating a persona that looked like my dream, but I not accepting of my own greatness.

Written By

Emily Leach is a pioneer in the world of uniquely-talented people who feel empowered to go beyond conventional jobs and create businesses from unique vantage points and perspectives. She is the founder of the Texas Freelance Association, the first statewide association of freelance workers in the country and The Freelance Conference, the only event of its kind poised to become THE conference for freelancers across the nation. Her belief that those working for themselves deserve the same respect as those working for major corporations drives her tireless fight to ensure this growing population of “genetically unemployable” solo-preneurs are represented and offered some of the same opportunities as those working for large corporations. Because of her knowledge and expertise, Emily has been a leading-edge organizer and speaker for TEDx events throughout the U.S. Southwest. Currently living in Austin, Texas, Emily’s outside interests include rowing, sailing, traveling, scuba diving, snowboarding, whitewater and cycling – basically, having adventures and living life to the fullest.

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