I love my life, I really do. I love my job, my home, my man. So it came as a shock when I realised I wasn’t feeling entirely satisfied with the way things are. Not only unsatisfied I felt drained of all energy and constantly tired, even though I am living close to my perfect life. I was perplexed! How could I not be feeling satisfied? Why am I so exhausted? My life is great. It simply didn’t make sense. I needed some objective perspective. So I contacted my amazing coach and mentor for help, and he came with a mind-blowing perspective. I am suffering from personal development burnout. And by burnout, I am not referring to the psychological condition caused by years of stress. I mean burned out by the effort of overworking yourself on the personal development path.
Apparently, personal development burnout is a thing and actually quite common. (Phew good to know I’m normal). Just as with any hobby its possible to go too far over the edge. Or worse make your development into a chore, which then initiates the shame cycle when you don’t do it. For me, my dissatisfaction was coming from a universal classic. I am not yet exactly where I want to be. The exhaustion is simply that in my quest to improve myself I have been pushing myself to my limits and beating myself up for not being where I want to be right now. That cycle of self-blame took my energy and because I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted all had become a chore.
Personal development burnout seems to be an integral part of the journey. As my coach said life can’t be perfect and blissful all the time. The burnout comes when you need to shift. To create a balance. To grow in a different way. It’s a level up on a computer game. The frustration before the prize. However, unlike in a computer game instead of pushing ourselves harder, personal development burnout creates the opportunity to let go.
If you relate to this, you’re not alone. I and many others get you.
While personal development can provide valuable resources to get you through some challenging times, if you find yourself falling into the impatient, frustration trap and cycle of guilt as I did then it’s time to recoup, reassess and change what you are doing so it works for you. After this is your personal growth no-one else’s. So it has to work for you.
Recovering from a burnout at it’s worst can take a long, long time. However, with the kind of personal development level up burnout, I am talking about it is possible to recover quickly if you consciously take actions. Here are the phases and actions I am working through to get me back on top in a healthy path of natural growth.
Phase 1: Stop reaching for whatever you have been reaching for
The first order of business is to interrupt the pattern. Once you stop the pattern of thoughts and feelings that got you to burn out, that’s when recovery begins.
- What have I been obsessed with that feels unreachable?
- What is my biggest fear if I stop reaching?
- What would it look like to surrender?
The scariest thing about letting go is that you don’t know how the world will look afterwards. Allow this process to calm your nerves to letting go.
Phase 2: Acknowledge how far you have come
If you have got into this burnout you will have grown. Although you are feeling worn out there has been progression. Look at when you started your journey and write a list of your achievements since that time. Sometimes just seeing what you have done already will help to boost your energy levels.
Phase 3: Take a break
Now stop take a break. As soon as you can. Book a holiday or a few weeks off. Make your health priority number 1. You need to refuel and do some serious TLC work. Cancel social arrangements. I don’t give a damn about how people may feel let down you need a break. Getting into the guilt cycle is all about your ego. It’s your ego that wants to be recognised to get the prize. Right now you need to feed your soul not your ego Step away from social media. Read a book. Get a massage. Sit in your garden. Sleep. Train. Swim. Do what gives you energy and peace. At this stage you need to make your health your priority. Without you nothing works. Your body is your team and support system. So take care of you and your health.
And for at least 14 days do not think about your personal development or your goals. Just be you for a change. You are perfect as you are.
Phase 4: Clear out
One of the things that feeds the guilt factor is the constant bombardment of social media and in our inbox of all the things we could be doing to be better or have greater lives. I have found it incredibly refreshing to unsubscribe from 90% of the personal development newsletters I belonged to. My inbox is clearer and it is surprising how less pressured I feel. Have an electronic clear out and choose what influences you want in your life and what is suepurpulus. Do the same with the books. (All of us personal development junkies have a pile we haven’t read yet). Choose one. Just one and put the rest away. Have a look at your daily and weekly habits. Which ones make you feel good. Which don’t. Guess what you are gonna do? That’s right get rid of all the ones that don’t make you feel good. Clearing out makes everything feel better and less pressured.
Phase 5: Appreciate your abundance
Gratitude is one of the simplest and most powerful tools we have. Being grateful makes us appreciate our here and now. And if you like me have been focusing on the end post, then you have forgotten to enjoy your journey here and now. Practise gratitude for your life at least once a week and appreciate the abundance of your now.
Phase 6: Listen to your inside voice
Make sure you are listening to you inside voice. It is there to guide you. One of the reasons burnout happens is because we don’t act on the signals our body is giving us. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Follow your gut feelings before you say yes. Your gut knows what you want better than your mind does. So for once let it lead you.
Phase 7: Refocus
As you begin to have more energy (as a constant presence, not just on intermittent days) you are ready to refocus your personal development ideas. Look at what you were doing. Remove anything that was either setting off your guilt complex, you I should be doing this voice and especially anything that drained you energetically. Be HONEST with yourself. Don’t keep practices because other people have told you they work or you need to do. Keep what works for you.
Now choose one, (Yes I said one), area of your personal development you would like to work on and honestly feel energetically able to commit to. (Again listen to your gut). Make this the priority for the next 6 months. I would also recommend here trying something new. It can be an energy boost to use a new technique for personal growth after burnout.
Phase 8: Take baby steps forwards
You cannot jump from burnout back to full power. It doesn’t work like that. If you try and throw yourself into a massive lifestyle change all at once you will end right back at burnout. So take baby steps. Do one little thing each week, Then each day. Build up slowly and you will find it becomes manageable. Baby steps make us stronger.
Give yourself time to recover from personal development burnout. At least 6- 8 months to work through the phases Burnout is a sign of not listening to yourself. It is the most important lesson we gain from this experience is to centralise and make ourselves important. There’s a fine line between self-improvement and personal development burnout. Allow your burnout to show you where that line is and learn how to keep your balance for healthier and stronger growth.
Have a happy weekend <3