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Averting Burnout This Year: The 4 Biggest Myths — #1

For a time, I crashed down into a full-on burnout once every ten years: three times in three ways — once through tragedy, once as a student pushing too hard, and once as a leader and a professional without useful boundaries.  Each time I put in my time as the empty pitcher — trying and wanting to pour out as designed but with nothing left inside to give, and without good systems in place to refill me.  Now I’ve got a really good eye for this kind of thing — seeing whose strategies are good for the long haul and whose are full of holes.  And the main strategies that won’t hold up?  Let’s start to take a good look at the four big ones.

The hearts of each of these myths seem like really good things, and I’m not saying that they’re bad things.  What I am saying is that when I am helping someone pick him or herself out of the debris of a really impressive burnout, these are easy candidates for what I find among the shrapnel on the floor.  If any of these is your primary strategy for long-term career resilience — loving what you do, growing in it, and being plain awesome at it in new ways every year — then here are some things for you to think about.

Myth #1 1.  “I just need to work out a more balanced life.”

There is a lot of talk out there about work/life balance.  Part of the problem is that no one ever explains that a symmetrical half work and half “life” balance is not the optimal goal we should be trying to reach.  We all fail at that and we all make ourselves wrong about wherever we end up.  We are each going to end up with a unique solution but it’s hard to avoid the fact that in the big picture, good work is going to keep your interest and give you more energy longer than leisure.  We humans are beautifully meant to strive — we are builders and creators, improvers and fixers and artists and inventors and tenders.  Rather than creating an either/or scenario between work and life, it’s time now to reframe each by the criteria of whether our work and our play and our rest feed us, give us energy, spark creativity, feed compassion and wonder and meaning.  When these are in the house?  Separating out work and life becomes a lot less interesting.


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