Help! I’m burnt out!

Newsletter #10

Three newsletters ago, I wrote about parting ways with a big client and freeing up a large chunk of time as a result. By that point, I had been feeling burnt out for awhile and relished the thought of a break.

Rather than completely veg-ing out, I optimised my time around new leisure and work activities, and threw myself into them.

Leisure: I caught up with friends I hadn’t seen in awhile and went on several long rides on my Onewheel. I started going for climbing classes twice a week, and gymmed and did yoga once weekly. I also watched a lot of Netflix and started a daily morning breakfast ritual where I ride my Onewheel to a local coffee shop, where I’ll eat breakfast and read articles. Finally, I’ve been diligently working on the women’s frisbee team.

Work: On the work front, I completed a bunch of small jobs, took up some bigger ones, and newly partnered with a developer to launch a WordPress plugin for membership sites. I’ve also been doing some free consulting work for a social enterprise.

If there was a textbook example on how to lead a full and fulfilling life in 2019, it wouldn’t sound very different to what I’ve done in the past 6 weeks. But, after optimising the shit out of my life, I now feel more burnt out than when I started. 

Stupidly, it took typing all of this out to realise the problem – I’d substituted one tiring thing for 10 new exhausting things. 

Without the obligations of a 9-6 job, I’ve had to set up my own guard rails for life and work.

This is exactly the sort of thing I enjoy, and I’ve been focused on engineering the perfect life and business for years now. As a result, I’m finally at a place where I get paid decently to work when and where I want, and only do work that I care about and enjoy. All that sounds like the life most people only dream about, but everything has a price.

I’ve done a lot of great things this year, but I’m not where I hoped I would be by now. And that’s where the problem starts. The mental guard rails I set up to make sure I work hard are now making me feel like I haven’t earned the right to relax, despite desperately needing to do so. As a result, I’ve been walking on a tightrope of rest and work, while carrying a twenty tonne backpack full of guilt, insecurity and pressure to succeed on my shoulders. 

It’s no wonder I feel worse now than I did 6 weeks ago. 

Looking back on newsletter #7, I realise how keen I was to be productive with my freed up time. Fast forward to today, having overachieved on that goal, I now know that I set the wrong parameters. 

I can’t say for sure it will be any better for my mental health (I guess you’ll find out several newsletters from now), but my new goal is to spend the rest of the year cutting myself some slack. 

On the outside, I suspect things will look about the same. But internally, I’m going to beat myself up less, take time to appreciate how far I’ve come, and try to stop feeling guilty when I’m chilling out. 

I need a break, so maybe I should actually take one. 

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