Using Burnout as a Powerful Tool
Finding strength in compiled stress can act as a compass to send you in the right direction.
Burnout is something one can easily master. Simply overwork yourself in every facet of your life or hyper-fixate on an area and grind away at it until you burst a blood vessel in your eye. Been there, done that, right before a flight for a business trip. Much of adulthood has been unfolded like that thus far. After all, if we are not busy, we are useless, right?
Burnout is a tricky thing. It can derive from negative feelings, such as a need for control, inadequacy, or avoidance of something more emotionally based. It can be equated to an entrepreneur scaling their startup working endless hours with a drive toward success as much as a person partying in excess as a form of escapism. It could be relatable to a parent drowning in childcare while working a demanding full-time job or a student juggling several assignments and a lack of tact toward prioritization of tasks.
The key to burnout is playing it to your advantage. You have a goal in mind, a particular outcome you’d like to achieve. Now, you have to take steps to reach it. Without the denial of the hard work and with an appreciation for the process, burnout can be a powerful tool for growth.
Mental mastery is all about dedication to improvement. Shut out the external noise. When you know internally what your purpose is, you know where you need to shift your focus. Burnout can also transpire simply because you forgot your desired outcome. An ambitious individual doesn’t (initially) grind for vapid adoration. They have a mission and a passionate purpose but get lost in the illusions of the hustle. Their burnout is a sign of recentering toward that desired outcome. The why behind what you are doing. When you make that small tweak to your mindset, you can push past your perceived limitations, and you can hypothesize your true intentions.
When we give up versus taking a break, we miss that opportunity for success and ultimate empowerment. It’s striving for that all-important balance between your idea, plan of action, and doing the work. Since burnout can be mental, physical, or emotional, and those lines can blur, the trick is to bring your whole self into every scenario. For example, as a runner, I idolize endurance athletes, so I tend to quite literally, run myself ragged. I know, however, the true purpose of each run is not to obtain a measured distance. It is to push past my mental limitations (as I strive toward mastery) and understand whatever emotions arise. When I get lost in the stats and analysis, I take away from the continuous achievements transpiring. That is what endurance athletes know. Euphoria is being in the process and hitting each milestone along the way, not the ultimate outcome because then, it’s all over.
When you are firing on all cylinders, you are forcing yourself to be present. It is tuning in with yourself that makes burnout work in your favor. It’s facing everything versus avoiding it and not leaning too far one way or the other.
Self-sabotage, even in its subtlest forms, can be using burnout deliberately against yourself too. If I feel I have to do all these things but don’t take action, I get burnt out in the planning phase. If I am ravaged by my emotions, which most often come from the unsettled ego, to begin with, I get burnt out in my tears. So, I can mentally determine my priorities and cry while I run. I only then need to worry about rest and hydration in the end. I use running as an example but could replace that with painting or obviously writing because those are things, even with goals attached, I do for me. And I know they contribute to the other areas of my life and do not need compartmentalization. They flow together as to how I define myself.
In mentioning the notion of worthiness, part of the burnout struggle comes from that feeling that you are not. When we break it down, it’s stressing yourself out because you believe that you have to, as no one can do it but you or help you. We can examine lack here via trust and the drive coming from insecurities to measure up. Understanding your why is crucial. All of the mysteries of the Universe come from this driving force. It may just be buried beneath some conditioned falsehoods.
It does take a lot of grit to understand your true why and stick to it. But perhaps, in stating the case for burnout as a powerful tool, you will take some time to realign with your why and treat it as a regular practice to recenter within your purpose.