How To Achieve Sustainable Success (And Avoid Career Burnout)
Many of us strive for career success, but what is the true meaning of success? Earning lots of money, being the top of your industry, making it to CEO or Managing Partner? There is nothing wrong with any of these goals, as long as your health, wellbeing and relationships are not paying the price.
I’ve observed many senior leaders and high achievers push themselves to achieve these goals only to have their mental or physical wellbeing decline to the point where they have to take a career break.
Here are some signs to check in and see if you are heading towards burnout:
- consistently disrupted sleep
- your emotions are taking control and you find yourself getting frustrated easily
- your mind is racing
- lack of mental clarity
- your breathing is shallow
- you’re forgetting things (more than usual)
- aches and pains that won’t go away, or are getting worse
- you can’t unwind out of work.
Ultimately what we want is to enjoy our lives, and that includes enjoying what we do in our careers, and doing well at it. So how to turn it around:
1.Firstly, appreciate that challenges come into our life for a reason. To help us get on our path, or wake us up to get back on our path, or to learn something from. Ask yourself, why are you experiencing this challenge? and then be silent and see what thoughts enter your mind. Do you need to change the way you work, delegate more, incorporate some flexibility in your schedule so you can prioritise looking after your health? Is it time to set your sights on a career change or promotion or to venture own into your own business? I often say never waste a good crises, there’s a learning in there and we need to dig for the gold.
2. Start by focussing in on what’s important to you, your values, your vision. Are you still on your path? When you see what you’re doing is in alignment with your bigger picture, it will give you renewed energy. When you realise that you’ve drifted off your path, check in and ask yourself what do you really want, and are you currently on your way to achieving that? If not, you will need to make some changes. When we are doing tasks that are aligned with our top values, we sleep better and have more energy. (Check in and see if your career is one the way or in the way of you living your values here, or rediscover your Career Purpose here)
3. Once you are clear on what’s important to you, make this a priority in your life every day and spend time doing something towards this goal first thing each day. That way you’ll have a growing sense of appreciation that you are investing in what’s important to you, and not resent the other tasks that typically get in the way of it. In the Book ‘The One Thing’ it’s recommended to turn your ‘to do list’ upside down and tackle the one thing that will make a difference first (this will free up your mental capacity during the day)
4. It always comes back to the basics: nutrition and exercise. Easily said but when you’re busy being successful, it’s hard to find the time, right? However when you incorporate steps # 2 and #3 above, you will find you have more time. Quite often we distract ourselves with fighting little fires as a warm up to tacking the bigger issues, or distract ourselves from doing things we don’t enjoy. Imagine if you just got stuck into the bigger issues! Plus have you ever noticed the irony of pushing through and not taking a break in the name of getting something done, only to find you run out of puff or ideas or inspiration? The reality is that by taking a 10 minute break and going for a walk outside (without listening to a podcast), you are so much more energised. Or how much energy you have during the day if you start your day with a walk or a quick trip to the gym, or to do something active that you enjoy! Endorphins, endorphins, endorphins. I’ve just embarked on a detox, eating raw and pumping myself full of beautiful nutrients. It’s only day 3 and I’m actually waking up earlier, with more energy (more on that in a later blog). One thing you can start to do is to pay attention to how you feel after you eat certain things and see if they add or take from your energy supplies.
So in summary, use this wake up call to check in and see if you’re on your path, doing what you love, then prioritise what’s important each day. Add foods into your daily routine that will give you life, vitality and energy and clarity of thought, and get some fresh air! We’ve all heard it before, but information resonates when you are ready. What has resonated with you after reading this, that you are drawn to put into action?
(Remember to get your copy of Careers Awakening: How To Align Your Career With Your Soul Purpose here.)