5/2/2016: Bright

Is it possible to actually prevent burnout?

In the past I thought the secret was simple enough: Just take more breaks. I thought this issue could be solved with a walk around the block or a Saturday spent in bed with my favorite book/Netflix binge session. But after mulling it over this weekend, I’ve realized it takes a lot more than that. Preventing burnout requires a complete mindset shift in the way we operate as creatives, and especially as business owners.

Instead of framing work as a sport where we’re one player in an endless sea of other players trying to grab the same prize (success, money, visibility, legacy), we have to think of work as a game with only TWO players: ourselves and our craft.

The ultimate goal of this personal game then should be to make sure that the actions we’re taking are aligned with who we are at the core level and that we’re practicing our craft in whatever way that feels congruent with that core self.

To me, that’s not a recipe for burning out, that’s a recipe for burning BRIGHT.

This mindset shift creates a few very important distinctions that protect us from burnout: It renders comparison futile (if we picture everyone playing a different game with a different set of rules, what’s the point in comparing ourselves to them?); It keeps us in control of our pace (if I think of life and work as a highly individual journey where I’m the only player, it’s no longer a race and there’s no longer a need to feel rushed); and we get to rewrite the rules at any time (if we’re playing our own game then we have the power to re-write our own rules).

If I’ve learned anything about avoiding burnout, it’s that while a morning ritual or vacation days or breaks from technology can help, these things can't solve the underlying problem. We have to retrain ourselves and our minds to see our path as separate from those around us.