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How to prevent burnout if you enjoy working hard

By May 20, 2022May 23rd, 2022No Comments

If you are someone who would class themselves as a “high achiever” or you are used to getting results, then chances are you enjoy working hard and challenging yourself.  I love it when I feel like I’m experiencing lots of momentum, action and working hard- it feels good to feel in flow – doing, creating and moving forward.

Our culture prioritises momentum, forward progress and productivity – and so we receive both internal and external positive reinforcement when we are in a state of momentum and working hard.

But, it’s this energy and momentum that can fuel our experiences of burnout. We experience a natural burst of momentum, together with the accompanying productivity and because of the rewards we receive from this, we feel the drive to exploit this as much as we can. We end up working as hard as we can, doing as much as possible with this rush of energy and enthusiasm and end up running ourselves into the ground in the process – fearful that it will disappear at some point and we will be left struggling for motivation.

But this isn’t a sustainable, long term solution – as many of us find out along the way.

So, how can we enjoy working hard without it leading to burnout?

Some things that I recommend to clients (and also find helpful myself) include:

  • “Grounding” techniques which keep our nervous systems calm, responsive and regulated can help us feel rooted in the present rather than getting swept up in the energy of activity. These might include yoga, meditation, walking in nature, breath practices, creative activities, music – the list goes on – find what keeps you grounded in the present moment and practice weaving these into your day.

 

  • Embrace the natural cycle of your energy and honour your need to rest and restore as much as you do the times of energy and hard work.

 

  • Let yourself go with the flow but create some reasonable boundaries on the amount of time or energy you will spend on work. It’s so easy to get swept up in the energy of action and productivity that we can let this keep us working far longer than we normally would. Whilst this is fine for a short period of time (and I personally find it helpful to have days where I work longer than normal if I’m feeling good and am on a roll), it’s important to have some boundaries with yourself to ensure that this isn’t all the time – and this means you still have the energy to use your momentum on doing fun, non work related things – see below!

 

  • Mix it up – variety is the spice of life!  Use your energy and hard work on different things rather than focusing on one task, which can use up your cognitive reserves quicker than doing a variety of tasks.

 

  • Experience the experience of energy in your body – This might include dancing, high intensity exercise or high adrenaline activities (if that’s your thing!) This will allow your body to process the excess adrenaline so you can “close the cycle” and let your body move more easily and quickly between a state of momentum and relaxation. I’d recommend coupling high intensity movement with some grounding techniques to ensure your nervous system has the opportunity to restore afterwards.

 

What works for you? How do you enjoy working hard and getting results without burning out?

Get in touch if you would like to chat more about how my 1-1 coaching can help you break the cycle of burnout and design a life and career that you love.

This post is based on a piece I shared recently in my weekly email letter – “The Part of You That Knows” – you can sign up to receive this here