I think we can all identify with the fact that we have a lot on our plate... and it seems like we're only told to put more on.
And sometimes we think there's a cure for this feeling of overwhelm and the cure is to take a vacation.
This is what I thought, at least.
So, several weeks ago I went on a vacation and I couldn’t be more ready to unplug.
I was suffering from self-doubt, comparison, feeling pressure from all the “shoulds,” feeling uninspired, losing my passion for my work, and in short, burning out.
I wasn’t in a good spot and I honestly thought this vacation would be the answer.
As my vacation date neared, I questioned why I had feelings of overwhelm and burnout in the first place. Because I was working with great clients on projects I enjoyed, I was doing what I loved, even if it was during nights and weekends.
I was also making time for my priorities like spending quality time with my husband and family. So these feelings of overwhelm and burnout were confusing to say the least.
It's not about the vacation
My vacation entailed a European adventure with my college roommate. And while we had a blast exploring the Netherlands, I couldn't help but have my business in the back of my mind, wondering why I wasn't making a lot of progress or feeling excited about my business anymore.
What was I missing? Especially when I had invested so much time and money in education, blogs, podcasts, and everything else.
I felt like I had SO much knowledge, why wasn't it helping me?
What ACTUALLY helps
I read a couple books while on vacation - in airports and on planes - and it was in these books that I realized what I was missing.
Both of the books spelled out that you needed to get back to the basics of why you started your business and also focus on one thing until completion.
The books I cannot recommend highly enough are Start with Why by Simon Sinek and Essentialism by Greg McKeown. I recommend reading both cause they play so well off each other. They seem to go hand-in-hand (If you check these out I recommend reading Start with Why first then Essentialism).
What both of these books outlined so beautifully was clarity. And it hit me like a load of bricks – I needed clarity to move forward.
clarity is the name of the game.
When you have clarity in your business you have confidence, knowing you’re doing exactly what you should be doing. Clarity helps you think, helps you make decisions, and helps you get excited.
So how do you get over burnout and get clarity?
1. Come back to why
The phrase “your why” gets tossed around a lot nowadays, but I cannot emphasize enough how important is it to get super specific and know deep down your purpose, your passion, and your reason why you started your business in the first place.
Like I said earlier, the book Start with Why was fantastic and it was all about getting clear with how you want to make a difference and how the only way to maintain consistency and growth is with a clear message.
2. Truly unplug
Another thing I did after reading those books was to do a social media fast. I know what you’re thinking, I cannot NOT post to social media, FB, IG… I know. That’s what I thought too. But when I did, I cannot tell you how clear I got with what I need to focus on, it helped me hone my own voice and also get re-inspired creatively.
When you’re constantly looking around and following everyone else, you never come up with original ideas.
Some of my favorite designers are not involved in social media very much and I think it’s brilliant. That’s how they stay ahead of the curve, they’re not so worried about what everyone else is doing.
“When you’re following everyone else, you’re always behind”
Another thing I did while I was “unplugged” was to do other creative activities that I don’t normally do. I broke out my watercolors, my pencils and I enjoyed art for the sake of creating art, not for anyone else and it was completely refreshing.
Practical ways to incorporate a “brain refresh”
So if you want to start incorporating more activities to help you get more creative and feel more “refreshed” here are some ideas.
Take time for yourself in silence. Although it seems strange at first, it’s so important to get quiet with yourself and allow your brain some space to think and relax.
Driving your car in silence
Mediating in the morning
Taking a walk without headphones
When you do other creative activities that you don't normally do it's like strengthening your artistic (and well-being) muscles. Sometimes you don't use them often but they're vital in terms of overall health.
3. Get ULTRA clear on what YOU need to do
In the book Essentialism, McKeown helps you decide what you need to focus on. I feel like I know that you need clarity and focus, but having a reminder like this book was really what I needed.
So for me, I outlined my major goals, broke them down in weekly tasks and then (here's the hard part) I need to say "no" to everything else.
Not only does this help you feel like you're moving toward an end goal, but it also gives you permission to do what YOU need to do, not just do something that other people on Instagram or people in your industry are doing.
Finally, you won't feel spread thin or like you have absolutely no mental or physical energy left to do things you KNOW need to get done.
I don't know about you but I was feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders for a little while there so having the permission to NOT do all the things and just focus on what can help ME move forward was liberating.
Keep big goals to heart
Another ultra important thing is to keep your BIG GOALS close to you. Keep them at the forefront of your mind so you are reminded why you’re channeling your focus and attention and energy and saying "no" to other things.
I was reminded of this when I emailed a mentor of mine explaining how I was feeling burned out for some reason. She told me that something that helps her is to keep the end goal in mind. It helped her stay focused and motivated and I, now, completely understand that.
Prepare for It
Lastly, I want to remind you that burnout happens to every single one of us, so it’s important to expect it.
Take some time for yourself daily or weekly to recharge and you’ll lessen the effects of burning out and you’ll keep up your creativity, innovation, and excitement for the direction you're heading.
I would love to hear from you!
Do you struggle with feeling overwhelmed or burned out?
What keeps you motivated?
Have you written down your "why" before?