How do we kick burnout to the curb once and for all?
The good news is: it’s actually fairly simple. The bad news is: simple does not mean easy.
That’s because what really causes burnout is not your boss or office politics or even having way too much work to do. Right now, it may seem like those things cause burnout, but they don’t.
What really causes burnout is … your thoughts.
Stay with me. Right now, your thoughts probably seem true. When your brain says some shit to you, you are maybe not accustomed to questioning it (unless it happens to say something nice. We all seem to be much better about questioning those thoughts).
But. For the most part, your thoughts are not facts. They are actually interpretations. And those interpretations are heavily influenced by culture, your family, the past, and, often, your deepest fears.
This isn’t because your brain is bad. Your brain got most of its ideas from culture, your family, TV, and other dubious sources. Also, your brain has some default programming that makes it do weird things. But when a thought pops in your head, if you don’t know about the brain and how it does things, then that thought just seems true.
What does this have to do with burnout? EVERYTHING.
Because burnout is what happens when your brain tells you the story that you have to be perfect all the time and do everything well on the first try and never mess anything up and oh, if you could look effortlessly beautiful that would also be good.
Burnout is what happens when your brain says it’s not ok to tell your boss no or ask for a flexible schedule or call in sick when you don’t feel well. Burnout is what happens when your brain constantly spins about the terrible commute or how much you dislike that one coworker or how you can’t get any work done because you’re in meetings eight hours a day.
Don't get me wrong. There are elements of the above that may require making changes. But the thing is, right now, your brain’s drama isn’t creating those changes. It’s keeping you stuck.
But once you learn how to think differently (how to use your brain and its programming on purpose), well, that’s when things start to change. Because when you change your thoughts, you change your actions, and when you change your actions, you change your life.