My burnout story

While I am a very energetic, outgoing, LOUD, joy-oriented person, I'm a burnout coach for a reason. 

The truth is, I operated inside a burnout mindset for a long, long time. While it's true (and obvious) that burnout will burn you out, it's also true that we don't all learn to change the first time this happens. We don't even necessarily realize that we could change. And for many of us, burnout just creates a cycle that we come to know and accept. A cycle we think is normal. Just life. We work and work and work and work. And then we crash.

Before I learned about coaching, I thought that this was just the way I was. The way life was. I thought that I was a high-achiever because I worked this way. The truth is, I was a high-achiever despite working this way

In 2015, I was laid off from a boutique marketing firm that was closing its Seattle office. I didn't take the layoff very well. And when I started my next job at a Fortune 500 company, all I could think about was keeping it and not being unexpectedly unemployed again. I didn't know anything at all about corporate culture. But I knew that I would work my ass off and do whatever it took to succeed. And I did. But the cost was high. And it wasn't just how much work I was doing. It was the constant worrying. It was the fear. It was the voice in my head that just kept asking, "what will you do if you lose this job, too?" 

Here's the thing. I did create amazing things for myself in that role. And in our current culture, it's easy to assume that it was "hustle" rather than "burnout." But, having lived it, I can say this for sure: while all that worry drove me to work hard, it simultaneously created a slew of negative side effects, hindered my long-term productivity, and left me feeling totally depleted and overwhelmed. And I got sick ALL THE TIME. 

This is what burnout behavior does. It's tempting to think that it's worth it because that kind of work can create a result, but that result never comes without consequences.

Because you can't bounce back from burnout with one good night's sleep or a ten day vacation or a massage. You have to unlearn all those burnout behaviors, and you have to choose to do things differently. You have to create and adhere to higher standards for yourself and your work.

Yes, higher standards. People act like overworking is the highest standard of all, but it's not. It does not produce better work and it definitely does not produce happier workers. Saying no to burnout means saying yes to being uncomfortable the first time you don't check your email at night, it means saying yes to prioritizing your own wants and needs and not acting like there's just not time for them, and it definitely means saying yes to letting other people think whatever they want when you don't do what they're doing. 

This is where coaching comes in. For me, I knew for a long time that I wanted to (and really needed to) make a change. I wanted to crush it at work without feeling like I was also crushing my well-being in the process. And I was pretty sure it was possible (spoiler alert: it totally is possible). 

This is what was missing: unlearning burnout is not just about changing what you do. It's about changing how you think

That's the whole key. I kept trying to change by changing my actions, but I wasn't teaching my brain to think differently, so it just kept doing its worry and terror parade. And I kept trying to get away from the worry and terror parade, either by working to appease it, or by distracting myself with netflix or wine or any other fun and easy dopamine hit.

When I learned how to change my thoughts, everything else changed, too. 

I learned why my brain was doing the worry and terror parade in the first place (brains are wild, y'all, and there's real reasons for everything they do). And I learned how to choose new thoughts on purpose. Thoughts that would help me build the life that I wanted to live.

Because guess what - I still wanted to work hard. I just didn't want to do it in a way that gave me the work equivalent of a hangover everyday. 

I wanted to work because I love it, not because I'm trying to get away from my own brain and its scary stories. 

And to me, that's what this is all about. Helping people see and shift their own thoughts, so they can do their work and have fun and create a life that they actually want to show up to. Without their brains raining all over everything with worry and terror.