A definition of ‘burnout’ I came across recently was “Burnout is the gradual process by which a person, in response to prolonged stress and physical, mental and emotional strain, detaches from work and other meaningful relationships. The result is lowered productivity, cynicism, confusion…a feeling of being drained, having nothing more to give.”
That sounds really serious. I’m sure that anyone who becomes that disconnected from everything around them, should take serious time out to reflect about what is really going on in their life. However, I see the term burnout being applied a lot more lightly and loosely these days. It has almost become an excuse for not working as hard as you can. Everyone has days when we feel we are carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders and do not know how much longer we will be able to hold up for. I am having one of those days today as I type this blog post. Juggling multiple projects that have suddenly been activated after months of pursuing them, has become an extremely complicated and very exhausting exercise. The feeling of exhaustion that I feel at this point is not really burnout. It is simply a case of managing time optimally to achieve the required results.
The last month has pretty much been 18+ work hour days… all week long! When I got into entrepreneurship and started carving out my own path, I was well aware that these would be my work hours. A good learning curve about working at these levels is, that it is also a test for all the people you work with. You get to know who copes well under pressure, who cannot handle it , who delivers on their targets and who does not. In my experience the only people who really make it through these periods are those who truly love what they do every day. Those who literally live and breathe what they do.
From personal experience, I find the best way to bring some sense of balance to such strenuous periods is to reward myself when a set series of goals have been met. It helps me to push harder during these busier times, knowing that there will be a short term win around the corner!