Last week I was busy procrastinating on a task I couldn’t summon the motivation to get started on. The YouTube algorithm then provided me with a great little video – 6 signs you’re burnt out, not lazy and I was struck with the sudden realization that I AM burnt out!
I really identified with the definition – burnout is when the effort is no longer worth the reward.
I’d always thought that burnout was like a kind of breakdown. I pictured it as being extreme, no longer being able to function, and needing to take drastic steps like quitting my job. But this video made me rethink, that burnout is not just about workload it can also happen because of an accumulation of lifestyle and habits. And I think this is what is happening to me – I’m burning out because I’m not feeling that my cumulative effort across all aspects of my life is delivering enough total reward. And it’s why I’m struggling to find the motivation to do much.
I’ve done some reading on why it happens, and I liked the AIR model that says you need Aspiration, Integration and Restoration to avoid burnout.
Aspiration – I’m lacking aspiration associated with my job as I’m not that excited by our current projects, and I often feel like the financial remuneration is not enough to reach financial freedom on a timeframe that makes it worth it. I recently dropped my freelance writing as the amount of effort it required was not worth how much quicker it would get financial freedom.
Integration – This is the ability to manage responsibilities and pressures from both work and home. I don’t have good integration with my work and home life, because there are so many projects still going on with our house that it’s hard to lean into work. I’m being pulled in both directions at once rather than being able to shift from one to the other.
Restoration – Finally, I’ve had very little in the way of restoration over the past two years. I’ve been working on creating a more sustainable lifestyle, that should include more ‘restoration’ but it’s taking some time to build this in and feel the effects.
So what am I going to do about it?
While solving the Aspiration and Integration aspects are a bit more complex, I can do more to ensure I have better Restoration. I did some research on how to tackle burnout, and there is a framework that uses three timeframes to take preventative or restorative measures.
Immediate – These are the small things we do throughout the day. Take regular breaks, do five minutes of deep breathing or meditation, take a walk outside.
Medium term – These are things we do on a weekly basis. Socialize, exercise, eat well, sleep enough and take down time.
Long term – This is the deeper restoration that comes from taking a holiday, and making sure that it is the right type of holiday for what you need at the time.
All this has given me a fresh perspective on what burnout means and how I can incorporate preventative measures into building a sustainable lifestyle, which is my focus for this year.
Are there areas of your life where you feel like the effort is not worth the reward? Do you feel like it is causing burnout?