It’s true confession time. Six months ago, on the heels of a three day 36 hour workshop, I wrote a blog entry about doing less. I never posted that blog and unfortunately, I didn’t do very well at doing less. Alas, this weekend, I had a meltdown (or two) and I am finally ready to admit… I’m burnt out.
So what exactly is burnout? Well, the dictionary defines it as a physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress. I would add: … ‘and saying yes all too often because we think we should’. We can say yes to things that look great at first glance. Yes, I’ll provide baked goods for the school sale; yes, I’ll take on that extra project at work; yes, I’ll make that donation; yes, I’ll help you with your project; yes, I’ll host the dinner club; yes, I’ll do the new product launch. Spot on, innocent enough, well-meaning for sure, but all too often for where we are at that time, it’s just plain wrong. Yes, you heard me; going for the promotion, increasing the scope of your business, even doing good can be wrong for you at the time if you don’t have the resources to do so without causing unnecessary stress and strain on your heart, mind, body or finances.
Two years ago, having just survived some major challenges, I decided to pull back and heal. It was time to rest and rejuvenate. And so I burrowed in a bit for a time of prayer, painting and pampering. I spent my time and money doing things that would build me up, nurture me, energize me, and delight me. I was doing well; starting to get that spring back in my step, a little color in my cheeks, feeling a renewed sense of hope and possibility. But just as I was beginning to feel good, I dove back in – to the deep end. Took on a major project with a client, hired six more employees, doubled the hours I spent in my business, launched a new product, started a new relationship and drastically cut the time I spent sleeping, praying and painting.
A word of caution here. In the past, I would have been tempted to want or even expect people to stop asking me to do things or for the Universe to stop sending me ideas or opportunities. Sorry guys, it doesn’t work that way. I am responsible for me. I am the one who knows how I want to feel, what I want to give, how I want to live and I am the one who must choose the behavior that supports that.
So here’s the moral to this short story. I’m not going to say yes quite as much anymore. First, I’ll ask myself: does this enable me to feel how I want to feel? Does it benefit my health routine? Is this how I want to give? Does it inspire my spiritual practice? Does it support my financial well-being?
I am my priority. I will say yes to what supports my health and happiness. I will politely but firmly say no to things that do not. Doing so will give me the strength and energy I want and need to feel jazzed about doing things I want to do. While the world scurries around during this ‘busy’ time of year (said as though other times of the year are not busy???), I will be working less, resting, sleeping, walking and praying. I’ll be spending some quiet time being grateful for the good in my life and being clear about how I want to feel today and every day. And I’ll be setting intentions and considering creative new ways and some favorite old ways that I will take care of myself.
I turn 60 this month which feels like a rite of passage of sorts; a gateway to an independent, authentic time in my life. I still have a lot to do and give but I feel as though I can only do so out of fullness. And so, before I go charging off into the sunset (as I am prone to do), I’ll take a moment to be still, to listen to my heart, to fill my cup. And when I’m ready, I will emerge as the finest butterfly, and continue on my way toward all I’m meant to be.