For over two years I thought that burnout was going to kill me. It took away my logic, my reasoning, my memory, my capacity to relax, my ability to stay out of bed for more than a few hours. It took away my ambition, my addiction to work, my ability to hide behind a job title. It took away my body’s ability to be pain-free. It took away my happiness and curiosity.
Despite all of that, I was angry that I had burnout. I resisted slowing down. I didn’t want to stop. I thought my life was awesome. It was… if you consider never having a moment to yourself and being constantly exhausted and cranky to be the epitome of wonderful! Little did I know that another, much greater, life was available. It was a classic case of staring obsessively at one tree when there was a whole forest of even greater possibilities available.
What burnout couldn’t take away was the essence of me. The real me that was hidden under years of fitting into organisations that weren’t a good match for my true brilliance. Somewhere I’d become caught up in other people’s ideas of what a great career was. I’d forgotten I wasn’t made to follow the rules!
Instead of killing me, burnout became one of my greatest gifts. Without burnout, I wouldn’t have…
◦ Launched a global business and run events in 15+ countries.
◦ Become an artist.
◦ Become a writer.
◦ Learned how to be kind and nurturing to me.
◦ Moved to the beach and let go of climbing the ‘dog eat dog’ career ladder.
◦ Made my work into a playful, creative adventure.
◦ Gotten over excruciating anxiety and shyness.
◦ Made friends with amazing people all over the world.
◦ Made it through a day without chocolate!
◦ Spoken on stages internationally.
◦ Learned to ride a horse and go stand-up paddle-boarding.
◦ Discovered I could say no to anything that doesn’t thrill me.
◦ Posed for nudie body-painting photos (or any photos at all…)!
That’s a lot of cool stuff to miss out on! Yes, burnout has been the greatest gift of my life. Instead of killing me, living beyond it has enlivened every cell of my body and being. In making the choices that moved me from a miserable, exhausted shell of my real self, to a vibrant, adventurous creator of non-stop ideas, I discovered my true brilliance.
You don’t have to wait for burnout to strike to discover your brilliance. My advice (in hindsight) is to take a far more direct route. Your life is always whispering to you about your brilliance and showing you the paths that will lead you to a phenomenal life, instead of a mediocre one that seems okay because it is as good as anyone else’s. Have you considered they might be suffering needlessly too?
You won’t hear your life whispering to you if you are hell-bent on doing it your way; if you are determined to climb to the top of the closest, tallest tree, rather than the much more magnificent tree in a neighbouring forest that is insistently whispering your name.
Turning burnout into a brilliant gift starts with making different choices. With taking a clear look at your life and being honest about what isn’t working, and what is working but doesn’t bring you enormous joy.
“If it’s not fun, I’m not doing it” became a mantra for me after burnout. I realised that no amount of striving and stressing would bring me the joy that playful, fun-filled choices do. To have joy, you have to let go of everything you are trying to control. We think control creates. In reality, it is our joy that creates. That list of magic above? It was all created through joy. I could not have controlled any of those things into occurring even if I’d planned them for the rest of my life.
Your joy enables your brilliance to shine. You don’t have to know ‘how’ you are brilliant, you just have to trust that you are. Every single one of us has a unique and innate brilliance. When we acknowledge it and allow it to show up in a thousand tiny ways, burnout goes away. In its place is a creative adventure called living. You won’t seek work-life balance when you know how to fully live!
One last thing… all of those things burnout took away? All the good ones came back… and I left the others where they belong, buried in a graveyard of old habits and beliefs that are no longer who I am.
What would it be like to make choices that thrill you? What would it be like to create in your zone of brilliance? What would it be like to have joy in every part of your life? As you ask these questions, your life will begin whispering to you. Listen very closely. Make the choices, no matter how much courage it takes. And fly. Your launching pad starts with saying yes to a greater life.
About Your Guest Blogger: Lisa Murray is the author of ‘Stop Waiting, Start Creating’ & ‘Living Beyond Burnout’. She inspires entrepreneurs, change-leaders and creatives to embrace the blossoming of their creative energies in creating greater futures, via retreats, workshops and creative adventures. Her ‘Amplify Your Energy Lounge’ offers a supportive community and ground-breaking strategies for people with overwhelm, anxiety & burnout. Connect with Lisa here…