The Hidden Opportunity in Burnout

You feel like you’ve hit rock bottom. You don’t feel like doing anything anymore, and you’re not sure how you can move forward. Is this burnout? And if so, what should you do? This blog post explores these questions and more, including how to spot the signs of burnout, why it happens, and what you can do about it when it does happen to you.


Introduction

If you’re feeling burned out, it can be hard to see opportunities. If anything, it may feel like a crisis that you want to run away from. But burnout can also be an opportunity to seek deeper meaning in your life. It's a chance to reflect on what is important and meaningful—and create fresh ideas for moving forward again. So if you're feeling overwhelmed, try looking at your work life through a new lens. Try thinking about how your experiences with burnout can help guide you toward living a more meaningful life that reflects what matters most to you – and use them as inspiration for finding new meaning and purpose at work or beyond!


Define Your Value System

If you don’t know what you value, it can be impossible to achieve inner renewal. Start by writing a list of three to five things that matter most to you, personally and professionally. In order of importance, rank each item based on your values as well as how much time and energy is required to maintain these aspects of your life. This exercise gives you a snapshot of your priorities. For example, if your family has always been a top priority for you but now you don’t have time for it because work is consuming so much of your schedule (and vice versa), then work should be at or near the top of your list.


Break Through Fear Blocks

We often think of fear as something that prevents us from doing things, but actually, it’s just a sign we need to take a step forward. Fear is a call to action — not an obstacle. Although fear blocks are unpleasant and uncomfortable, they are also necessary and incredibly useful in helping us progress toward our goals. If you can create a new way of responding to fear blocks, your energy and creativity will have room to surface and find their way out into your world. Letting go of old fears will free up tons of energy for you to apply to new possibilities!


Embrace the Unexpected

When you're burned out, it's tempting to pull back from life. We may even see burnout as a negative thing - something that we should avoid at all costs. But turning inward can actually be an opportunity for renewal and for rediscovering our core values. The key is to look at what's happened with openness and curiosity, rather than beating yourself up over mistakes or missteps. Instead of viewing your burnout as a failure, try seeing it as a chance to pursue unexpected opportunities that give you a chance to experiment with new ideas and activities, learn more about yourself and discover fresh ways forward again - leading you toward what really matters most in your life!


Take Advantage of Challenges

Challenges make you stronger and they can also help you identify areas of your life that need improvement. For example, if you’re feeling frustrated at work, ask yourself why. Is it because of a boss or co-worker? Are your responsibilities unreasonable? Or maybe it’s just that you’re being asked to do something that goes against everything you believe in (i.e., not aligned with your values). Once you figure out what’s bothering you, decide whether to approach your problem head-on or move to a new job. But either way, a challenge is an opportunity for growth – even when things don't seem so rosy. You just have to know how to find opportunities in those challenges!


Have Fun

Recovery begins with a shift in attitude. It’s about choosing your focus, renewing your vision, and reconnecting with what matters most to you. And there are no hard-and-fast rules: You can choose from among some of these suggestions or create something uniquely suited to your situation. The key is to have fun! This is an opportunity for inner renewal, so make it as playful as possible.


Let Go of Control

When you feel stuck or burned out, it can be tempting to try to regain control of your life by making changes. But how do you know what needs changing? If you're like most people, you go on auto-pilot and focus on what's easiest: getting better at your job or finding more work to do. Instead, try shifting your attention away from your tasks and toward what really matters to you - whether that's spending time with loved ones, doing activities outside of work, or trying something new. By focusing on what truly matters most to you instead of spinning plates, you give yourself space for creative inspiration - and opportunities to rediscover why you wanted to start a business in the first place.


Remove Barriers to Connection

Not all barriers to connection are obvious. In fact, some of them can be our own perceptions and assumptions that we aren't even aware of. The antidote? A series of Yes And... statements to interrupt your automatic thought patterns. This is an exercise that actors use to play characters with new attitudes or insights—and one you can use to refresh your perspective when burnout feels like it’s enveloped everything. Here are three examples: Yes, I’m burnt out on how long my commute takes. Yes, it seems like a massive waste of time (and gas) every day getting back and forth from work when there must be a better way for me to spend my hours.


Be Curious

Burnout is a problem with work, not a character flaw. Don’t be afraid to admit that your job is making you feel unhappy and unfulfilled. It can help to examine why, when it comes to burnout, we are our own worst enemies. Too often we tend to look at what’s wrong with ourselves (we’re lazy! We don’t care!) rather than exploring what may be going on with our employer or colleagues or clients. A broader view of burnout that includes external causes might give you some new ideas for how to change things up in your career and create more meaning for yourself—and maybe even find ways to help others from feeling similarly stuck too.


Open Yourself Up to Creativity and New Ideas

It may seem counterintuitive, but burnout is often a product of working too hard and not being open to new ideas. As you lose your connection to what's important, it's easy to slip into a rut. With practice, though, you can use your sense of renewal - which usually occurs as we slow down - as an opportunity for creative thinking. For example, if you're struggling with writer's block on a specific project, take some time off and give yourself space to relax. With renewed energy and inspiration from relaxation and physical activity (like sports or exercise), try approaching your work from another angle.


Unexpected

For many people, burnout can feel like hitting rock bottom – or at least, a pretty close approximation of it. You’re tired, your work and relationships suffer, and you may even start to consider quitting your job entirely. But the thing about burnout is that it may actually be an opportunity in disguise; while you’re undergoing this experience, new ideas and insights often present themselves, which could serve as the foundation of your next business venture or even career change. I hope it helped you to learn how to view burnout as an opportunity rather than a dead end.




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