Burnout was by far the best/worst experience of life. Worst because it almost cost me my life and best because it has enabled me to help many people beat burnout and achieve balance for life. The strategies to overcome burnout and prevent it from reoccurring I share in my book Succeed Without Burnout are all focused on things we need to start doing, rather than on things we need to stop doing. I learned a long time ago that what we focus on gets bigger. The secret is to focus on what we want, not what we don't want.
The key to beating and preventing burnout is to NOT focus on the bad habits we need to break, but rather focus on all the new habits we need to develop. Burnout is not caused by over-commitment as most people think. Burnout is caused by a lack of commitment to some very important aspects of life. Those areas include our health, our relationship, our finances and our spiritual well-being.
The Good Lord created a 24-day and not a 48-hour day for a good reason. This way 24 hours is a limiting factor for everyone of us if we just make sure we focus our energies in a balanced way. In my book Five F-Words That Will Energize Your Life I share the five areas of life in which we all need to set goals in order to achieve balance for life and leave a legacy in the process.
The following is a list of 17 strategies to overcome burnout and achieve balance for life that I have found to work and have kept me burnout-free for the past 30 years.
- Learn to identify the warning signs that indicate burnout is close. The sooner you compensate the less corrective action is required.
- Discover the art of setting realistic balanced goals.
- Learn to manage your stress as an asset, not as a liability.
- Engage in physical exercise daily – a brisk walk is great.
- Know how and when to say no.
- Take control of your thoughts, feelings and behavior.
- When worry strikes, think of the worst thing that could happen, and say, “So what?”
- Learn how to relax without feeling guilty. Take a deep breath when you begin to feel anxiety coming on.
- Adopt an attitude of gratitude. Give thanks daily to your Creator.
- Respect others and show them your appreciation with praise.
- Establish your priorities and identify your values.
- Live your life congruent with your values. Walk your talk.
- Give twelve hugs every day. Love yourself and others.
- View failure and obstacles in life as learning experiences, not to be taken too seriously.
- Avoid negative, destructive thoughts as often as humanly possible. Avoid negative people in the same way.
- Develop time and life management skills. Don’t procrastinate – do it now!
- Always maintain a sense of humor. If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right!
For several years after burnout, I would occasionally experience what Dr. Robert Schuller calls a brownout, meaning a temporary loss of power. Being an electrician by trade in my earlier years, I too was very familiar with the term “brownout”. Many times during an electrical storm or high winds, the electricity goes out and we are in the dark for a while. That’s called a blackout. However, sometimes the lights merely flicker and the power is immediately restored. This is called a brownout. These brownouts are our body’s early-warning alarm system. As I discovered, these brownouts were my body’s way of warning me that my life was getting out of balance in some area and that I was heading for possible burnout again. These usually meant I was neglecting the spiritual side of my life.
Are there some areas of your life that you need to get committed to? It is fitness? Is it family? Or perhaps your finances?
What are the habits you need to develop to help live a more balanced life? Is waking up earlier in the morning to have some "me time"? Is exercising every day?