I mean it when I say I don’t have enough hands to count the number of times I’ve hit a burnout phase in my life. It can be tracked all the way back to when I was a competitive figure skater and being on the ice at 4:30am before school started, juggling school, going to competitions that were out of state, etc. High school was all about trying to just stay afloat in a bubble of “mean girls”, all while making sure I didn’t jeopardize my future, and was still able to live out my creativity which at the time, was dancing. College was a real trip – as I was getting a taste of being in control of my own life and being responsible for every single choice that I made. The number of classes I took, the times they started, how late I stayed up, what I chose to eat (and drink!), the plans I chose to make, etc. All nighters became a sense of normal for me, until I felt like I couldn’t see straight and the pressure of the world came down on my shoulders, like clock-work.
Dramatic diaries of a 20 something, I know.
It wasn’t really until I created my business of being a wedding and portrait photographer that burn out became a thing that actually started affecting my body. My appetite suffered, so I wasn’t eating (and if I was, I wasn’t eating properly). I wasn’t sleeping because I would be up all night editing &/or stressing out about the 4 shoots I had the next day. My nervous system was literally in shock, because I never gave myself the time to rest and recover in between shoots. I was terrified of saying no, because I had this vision that at any moment, it could all be taken away from me.
Now that I’m no longer photographing mainstream weddings (small weddings for the win!) and shoot only a certain number of portraits per year, and instead focusing mainly on this blog and creating products that fall in line with my way of living, life is very, very different. BUT, it’s only because I not only heard the lesson, I learned the lesson. Want to know what it was?
I am not a victim.
The other little nugget that comes along with that?
Everything is about interpretation.
I can thank Chris Lee for this wealth of knowledge that truly shifted my perception on the subject of burnout and being overwhelmed by our own lives. It felt like a harsh lesson to learn at first, but let me break it down in how I digested this transforming message.
How to avoid burnout In your life (for good)
Understand (and accept) that you are not a victim
First thing’s first: realizing that you are not a victim to your own life. That might be a tough one to hear depending on your circumstances, and I totally get it if you’re rolling your eyes right now, but the reality is that everything is a choice — including (and especially) our outlooks and interpretation on things. So if my schedule is crammed with shoots to the point where I don’t have time for sleep? That’s on me. I’m not a victim, I chose to book those time slots.
If I make plans every day for seven days, knowing full well that I’m introverted and re-energize by spending time by myself? That’s on me. I’m not a victim, I chose to make those plans.
It’s all about interpretation (all of it)
When we hit burnout, inevitably bring on feelings of “that is the worst thing that could have gone down” or “I can’t take this anymore” or “I absolutely suck”. We ultimately put ourselves in this box where we’re punishing and ridiculing ourselves when all we really need to do is shift our interpretation. Is it really the worst thing that could have happened? Do you actually suck?
I call BS on both of those interpretations.
If we can all come to a realization that we are 100% responsible for how we take in information, how we feel about ourselves, how we see the things around us — we’re able to be fully in charge of our minds and our perceptions and interpretations of situations happening to and around us — making it literally impossible to suffer burnout in your life.
I mean, wow.
When I first took hold of all of this information and actually digested it, I won’t lie — it felt a bit harsh to me. I was like, “damn okay I get it. No more pity parties..” but truly, that’s not the point. The point isn’t that you can’t internalize and say, “that sucked and that felt unfair” or “I’m exhausted.” You totally can. Those are your feelings and those are valid. But burnout should never be an option, because you are in control.
You have the power to shift “that sucked and that felt unfair” to “what was the purpose for that happening?” You have the mindfulness to shift “I’m exhausted” to “what needs to change in my life?”
It’s literally all about taking responsibility, shifting what isn’t working, and living life from a place of positive perception and interpretation.
When you live like that, becoming a victim is no longer a possibility. Everything becomes a lesson learned. As Chris Lee said, “Freedom is having the ability to interpret. Choose positive.”
Sign me up.1