Why living in the moment can help you prevent creative burnout
So there are many reasons for burnout but the most prominent one that is often spoken about is when the amount of work that you’re doing is not being reflected in the results that you’re getting.
So your input = more than your output.
This can happen for a number of different reasons:
- If you are an entrepreneur, freelancer or own your own business and either aren’t paying yourself enough or do not have any free time.
- If you are a parent, guardian or carer and you aren’t feeling supported & haven’t been able to care for yourself.
- If you work in a high pressure environment and you aren’t fairly compensated for it.
If this describes you, it can lead to feelings of injustice, like you aren’t being appreciated and like you are being completely overlooked.
For carers, parents & nurses it is no surprise that you are burning out because by nature it is a one sided dynamic - caring for someone requires a great deal of selflessness and proper and frequent self care is the only thing that can overcome this.
However, the demographic that interests me the most in this example is the people that work for themselves. Creatives, entrepreneurs, business owners all set their own hours and arguably go into business for themselves precisely so that they can have control over their workload and yet burnout is still so frequent.
So why is this? Why do we work ourselves into the ground?
Because of success.
And what it means to succeed.
Imposter syndrome is so commonplace amongst people that work for themselves so success can symbolize legitimizing what you do. If you feel like a phony and not a ‘real’ writer/*insert profession here* then having a best selling book can help to calm those fears.
This underlying feeling of not being good enough or not being legitimate can often lead to people to sacrifice their happiness in the present in order to work towards the ultimate goal of feeling ‘successful.’
And whilst your feelings are VALID they aren’t always true, you can feel like a failure and acknowledge that you feel this way but it doesn’t mean you ARE a failure.
This is where it can get dangerous - by working to succeed you are trying to change external things in order to make you feel at ease with yourself but if you don’t feel good to begin with no achievement will ever satisfy you.
In my experience, success can become like a delicious dangling carrot that no matter how long you run for always seems to stay the same distance away - just out of reach.
In my particular circumstances when I started out running my candle business I said to myself that once I was stocked in a shop I would be so happy. It would finally feel real and people would stop overlooking what I was doing and I’d feel a sense of accomplishment.
Looking back, I really sacrificed a lot to get to this point.
I worked every evening after my corporate job, with my boyfriend and then co-owner of the business Matthew.
We would finish our separate day jobs, come home and silently make and pack candles together before packing the car for the weekend and standing side by side selling our wares.
We made a great team but despite spending so much time together we always felt like we were miles apart.
The roars of laughter that I was used to had turned into meek exhausted smiles and we swapped sharing how our day was with to-do lists and strategic plans.
After 3 months we had hit our goal of landing our first stockist. We were so grateful and so happy but when I look back I remember feeling like this was enough.
The goal for one stockist then morphed into 2 and suddenly this became the new target to complete by any means necessary.
If you think about the effects of putting your life on hold like this, you are really sacrificing the present for a date that will never come because a new goal will always replace the old one.
The thing about the effects of this kind of stress is that it cannot be endured - and when you finally do feel like you need to heal from your burnout, it will take more than a bubble bath or a week off to make you feel like yourself again.
One thing to mention as well is that, I’m not saying that goals specifically are BAD and that you shouldn’t reach for the stars or achieve your dreams.
Everything that you want in this life is achievable and you have everything within yourself to achieve it but what I AM saying is that whatever you want in life will take however long it will take and the pace of your journey isn’t going to be the same as someone else.
When I think back to my own example - if I had taken the time to celebrate, make memories and enjoy the process, I still would have reached my goal - maybe it would have taken me a little bit longer but it would have been more sustainable in the long run.
Whatever you want in life, remember it is a marathon and not a sprint. Longevity is the key.
Remember to build in celebration, rituals, memories and be mindful that you aren’t glossing over the wonderful things that you have already accomplished.
Look at your diary right now and schedule in 3 things this week that are going to fuel you and feel like yourself.
If you feel like you are moving onto the next target without reflecting - I’d love for you to make a list of 3 things that you are grateful for in this moment.
Until next time!
Links to the Podcast here: