The Cost Of Burnout
A lot of people were surprised and shocked when I announced I'd be leaving my full time reporting job in LA, picking up and moving to Nashville, a city I'd only been to once.
In short it of course was a leap of faith, but there were significant events that led to the rather quick decision, when I felt my heart tugging towards Nashville. One of the biggest events and wake up calls was at a doctor's office last year. I was tired, more tired than usual, and feeling very rundown. My legs started getting little bruises, and then over the course of a few days more and more bruises appeared. I took some time off of work one day to go to the doctor, because something didn't feel right. The doctor ran a battery of tests, asked my schedule, my sleeping patterns, diet, etc. When the test results came back, he entered the room with his clip board, scanned through the numbers, and said everything's pretty much clear.
The knot in my stomach seemed to untie as all was good. I remember the doctor's face still seemed so concerned even though the test results were clear. "Now, I want to be honest with you," he began as his face got stern, and his body language shifted. 'Your body is physically exhausted. At the pace you are going, I want you to really think about your work life balance, your quality of life.
I'm worried you could have a heart attack by thirty the way you are running now.' I was just twenty-four, and this doctor is worried I would have a heart attack in a few years?
Woah. Hi wake up call. I want to be clear, sure my work was demanding (like yours is too), but what was much more demanding was the expectations I had set for myself to meet. To climb the ladder, to get the best interviews, to blaze a trail. Email at 1am? I want to answer it. Breaking news? I want to be the first on it. Vacation? But, I want to make sure I'm not missing anything. Family holidays, dinners with friends looked a lot like one hand for email, one hand for eating. I was constantly a "yes" girl.
The cycle I had created for myself was so itnaudated with accomplishment in my work, that the pendulum had swung so far away from taking care of myself, to keeping up with relationships, and true rest. I of course had those things in my life, but it wasn't until I stepped away that I realized how much I had sacrificed to keep up with these "expectations" I had set for myself in the work place, and again I want to be clear my work was demanding, yes, but the burnout came from my expectations of wanting to do it all. These expectations I now realize weren't very healthy. How can I do the best work all the time, if I'm never taking care of myself? So many people I loved, tried to tell me to sleep more, drink less diet coke, less sugar free red bull, but I honestly was too tired, and on my own rollercoaster of accomplishing the next thing.
"When I look back on mistakes I’ve made...they all have one thing in common. I was tired."-CMO of JP Morgan Chase Kristin Lemkau for Thrive Global
This year has been really, really refining. It's looked a lot different than I could have imagined. A lot of fun career things have happened. I have in no means sky rocketed, but what I have learned is a new rhythm, of eating better, sleeping more, being disciplined with boundaries. I'm creating more, and sharing stories that I love. When we aren't taking care of ourselves, there's a very limited amount of "fuel" for creativity.
The cost of burnout?
Losing ourselves in the midst of chaos. Losing what we value in a desperate attempt to keep up. (Tweet That)
As I reflect back on 2016, I've gotten caught up in wondering if it was smart to leave all that I had built up, for a new city that in short I had to start from a very blank page from in every aspect, work, friends, etc. Was it wise? Was it right? Did I mess up? Did I make a mistake? My mind is plagued with these questions late at night when my spirit is fueled with doubt. I'm reminded though, I'm relearning the art of balance, and that's a powerful tool.
I was reminded of that when a friend from LA came to visit, we had dinner, and after her face looked a bit shocked, 'Linds, I don't want to offend you or anything, but that's the first time I've had dinner with you in years, that I didn't feel like I was at dinner with you and your company.' It was so honest, so real, and sadly so true.
The cost of burnout, is simply not worth it. I realized if I truly wanted to be someone who followed and chased my dreams, as well as inspired others to do the same I couldn't keep doing it on empty.
Unplug. Refuel. Recharge.