• Are Passions The Way To Cure Burnout?

    cure burnout

    I recently conducted an online survey. I asked about people’s energy levels and whether or not they feel at the point of, or close to, burnout.

    The answers floored me: A whopping 79% have experienced, or are experiencing, burnout or feel they are close to it. I knew our insane pace of life and two years of pandemic had taken it out of us, and my clients often come to me when they’re on the verge of burnout, but even I never expected the number to be this big.

    So in case you weren’t aware: Burnout is a very real threat. And with my emphasis on prioritising passions in life, you may well ask what the one has got to do with the other. Well, it turns out they are very much connected, and in the following, I’m going to explain to you how.

    More importantly, I’ll also show you how to prevent the one and focus more on the other. I’m sure we all agree that prioritising something you love doing is better than feeling burnt out, don’t we?

    It sounds so simple – and yet, here we are. The second highest result from the survey was that 73% of all participants stated they’d like to do more of what they love. Thankfully, this is just what I specialise in, so let’s explore what the connection is between the two, and how you can make it all work for you.

    Let’s dive in.
     
     

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    Why you may not realise you’re burnt out

     

    A lot of people think that burnout means being so overworked or stressed that you collapse and are unable to work at all for a while. Indeed, this is how burnout manifests – and yet, it’s only its last, most severe stage.
     

    The literature on the subject has many different systems dividing burnout into 3, 4, even 12 stages. Most of them start with something that sounds positive: Actual enthusiasm for one’s work. Yes, even if your work is one of your passions, you can burn out. In fact, it’s likely you will, at least if you don’t pace yourself.
     

    But there’s another type of burnout as well: One that comes from being either unchallenged or underappreciated. These things, and any combination of the above, can also lead to burnout.
     

    • Different systems disagree on the details, but basically, the stages of burnout include:
    • Initial enthusiasm or at least motivation
    • Fatigue (exhaustion in later stages)
    • Being unmotivated and/or irritable
    • Isolation in one’s social life
    • Collapse/inability to work

     
    By the way, burnout isn’t limited to job situations either. It’s entirely possible to burn out whilst looking after the household and/or children.
     

    Often, burnout remains unrecognised because it never quite reaches the last, most drastic stage. People suffer for years, sometimes decades.
     
     

    The role of negativity bias

     

    Negativity bias is something I talk about a lot. In case you’re new here: Negativity bias is a scientific term for the way we’re wired to pay more attention to the negative than the positive. It’s a survival skill from the days in our evolution when “negative” might have meant a dangerous animal on the verge of attacking us. We couldn’t afford to prioritise anything else.
     

    These days, we’re no longer in such raw, immediate danger all the time, but the tendency to single out and focus on the negative, has remained. To counteract this and arrive at true balance, it’s necessary to consciously focus on the positive – and because it’s not something that comes naturally to us, we need to train ourselves to do so.
     

    Far from denying the existence of the negative, I recommend allowing, acknowledging and experiencing every emotion. Negative emotions only take hold when we try to brush them aside. If they’re allowed to run their course, they’ll fade in time, and that’s when we can consciously and deliberately choose to see the silver lining again.
     

    In the context of burnout, this is important to know because burnout reinforces our natural negativity bias. When you’re already fatigued, you’re more likely to believe believe your efforts are in vain anyway, that nobody appreciates you and that you’ll never be good enough. You can develop all sorts of beliefs that are as harmful as they’re untrue, like the thought that everyone else has their act together and you’re the only one who can’t quite get their ducks in a row.
     

    too many demands

     

    The way to cure burnout?

     

    No, I’m not going to tell you that passions are the cure for burnout. That’s far too simplistic, and it also reinforces a harmful idea that circulates in social media these days. Valuable things like self care, and indeed pursuing passions, are touted as band-aids for the way our lives are so overloaded with activities and expectations these days.
     

    Simply inserting passions, whilst not changing anything about the thing that threatens to burn you out, is not the way to go. It’s only in addressing the root problem, in setting boundaries or if necessary, change jobs or get help in the household, or anything else that’s necessary to fundamentally de-clutter your life and focus on the essential, that you’ll recover.
     
     

    The role of your passions

     

    However, passions can play a significant part in two parts of this:
     

    1. The recovery process. Inserting joy into your life, gradually and step by step, is a shortcut to chasing off the feeling of meaninglessness that often accompanies burnout. It also shows you that quite literally, there are more important things in life than work and productivity.
    2. Maintaing a balanced life and preventing future burnout. Setting a firm priority on the thing(s) you love, that light up your soul, is like an emotional vaccination. You become immune to burnout, and as a bonus, you won’t let stress and pressure get to you as much, because work or your role as a caretaker / housekeeper is no longer the sole source of your self-worth.

     
    I’m sorry to say that this isn’t easy, or something you can achieve overnight. And at the risk of sounding like I’m “just promoting my own services”: Coaching is absolutely the way to go here. It saved my own life years ago, and I can’t overstate its value.
     

    You don’t need to do this alone. If you’re part of the Wild Spirits community (join us by signing up to the newsletter using the form above), I’m only ever an email away in any case. I’m happy to answer questions or hop on a Skype call with you (and no, that won’t cost you anything).
     

    If you’d like to make a lasting transformation, find a coach you resonate with or consider my programs. Life doesn’t have to be a drag.
     

  • Is It Serious Or Casual (Your Passions, That Is)?


     

    Abstract:
     

    When we meet a potential romantic partner, we tend to avoid rushing in. Once we’ve established we like each other, that’s when the other person takes precedence over others in our lives. However, some relationships will always remain casual and might have to take a back seat when we’re busy at work or with other areas of our lives.
     

    You see, your passions are very similar. Your mission today is to learn whether you’re ‘committed’ or ‘casual’.
     
     

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    Task 1: Let me count the ways

     

    Just like a romantic partner (and anything else in your life, really), you passions get a certain amount of your energy and attention. How much that is, depends much less on outer circumstances such as how much time you have than we tend to believe.
     

    Generally, we’ll find both time and money for the things we deem worthwhile. So, is it serious?
     

    It’s worth asking yourself these two questions:

    1. How often does it happen that you’re prevented from pursuing your passion?
    2. What are the things that get in the way (your job? Your children? Tiredness/lack of motivation? etc.)?

    is it serious
    Photo by Leo Fontes on pixabay.com

     

    Task 2: Is it serious?

     

    Obviously, the less you are prevented from pursuing your passion and the fewer things are capable of preventing you, the higher the priority you place on your passion. What does this mean?
     

    It means that if you say your passion and your joy are important to you, you need to treat them accordingly.
     

    To do this, look at your answers to question 2 above and try to find solutions for them. Obviously, these solutions will be as varied as our lives are individual. You might get an assistant at work or change jobs to free up time or get help in the household or with your children. You could practice more self care and take rest seriously so you’ll have more time and energy.
     

    Give yourself a chance to actually prioritise your passions. The joy will follow.

  • How To Prioritise A Passion That’s Not Your Income


     

    Abstract:
     

    Everyone talks about making your passion your paycheck. And indeed, it can be very fulfilling; I know a lot of people who are very successful in doing this. My own income is one of my passions, too.
     

    However, the real challenge begins when your passion is not your source of income. Clients often tell me they feel like their loyalties are divided between their job and their passion(s).
     

    Your mission today is to learn how to prioritise a passion that isn’t your paycheck.
     
     

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    Task 1: Should your passion be your income?

     

    The first step is to gain clarity on what works best for you. A lot of people feel that in order to be serious about their passion, it ought to be their career or business. But that’s a very limiting view that’s gained ground in our materialistic modern world.
     

    You are not your job. If you want to become a full-time researcher or academic, an actor or actress or musician on the stage, then that’s great. But if you would rather pursue your passion in peace and in private, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prioritise it.
     

    prioritise a passion
    Photo by Omar Medina Films on pixabay.com

     

    Task 2: Prioritising a “hobby” passion

     

    We need to lose the phrase “just a hobby”. There’s nothing “less than” about being passionate when something doesn’t make you money – in fact, I’d argue that it takes more passion to stick with it when you have no monetary incentive!
     

    You need three things to do this successfully:

    1. A job with healthy boundaries, workload and hours,
    2. Plenty of self care and quality time for you and your loved ones,
    3. Time scheduled to radically spend on your passions.

    Have you tried a passions date twice a week with yourself (similar to Julia Cameron’s Artist Date)? You’ll woo your passion like a lover, by turning up at your best and giving it your undivided attention. Play with this. Fall in love and then keep the flame alight – just like you would in a relationship with another human.

  • Don’t Use Passions As A Band-Aid


     

    Abstract:
     

    Passions are the single most powerful shortcut to happiness. Whenever I feel a little off, doing what lights me up never fails to give me a buzz.
     

    However, there’s a danger hidden in the very happiness passions give us. It can be tempting to use passions as a band-aid, as an excuse to not deal with things that aren’t going right in your life.
     

    Your mission today is to learn to recognise this pitfall and how you can make sure to avoid it.
     
     

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    Task 1: Are your passions a band-aid?

     

    Pursuing your passion can give you almost unlimited energy and lift your spirits. Your passion makes you feel happy and balanced and can make a bad mood disappear in no time.
     

    However, these qualities also make it dangerous. When your life is out of balance, you’re unhappy in your job or your relationship or something else is out of whack, you can use your passion like a band-aid or a painkiller. It’ll numb the pain sufficiently for you not to deal with it.
     

    Look at your life or take the Life Audit to see which areas you may have to look at. Don’t paper over the cracks, not even with a passion.
     

    passions-as-a-band-aid
     

    Task 2: Make your passions an asset, not a drug

     

    This is the reason why my Coaching programs encompass every aspect of your life, not just your passions. If you decide to prioritise your passion, it follows that something else needs to make space.
     

    This requires you to assess all your priorities, not just add a new one. Take a bit of time and write down the things that matter in your life. Then compare the list with your calendar, your commitments and the things you spend your days with, and make adjustments accordingly.
     

    Passions light you up, but this should be a bonus, not a survival strategy. Make sure the joy is the icing on the cake, rather than a band-aid.

  • 3 Ways Your Passions Can Cause Burnout


     

    Abstract:
     

    Wait, what? I promote prioritising your passion(s) and now I’m telling you your passions can cause burnout?
     

    Why yes, they can. It’s a subject not often talked about, but it has massive implications for those who seek joy and fulfilment in life – those who want to live with purpose.
     

    Your mission today is to learn 3 ways your passions can cause burnout.
     
     

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    1. You treat your passion(s) like chores

     

    I often suggest scheduling your passions the same way you schedule a doctor’s appointment in order to create space for them. What this doesn’t mean is that your passion should be treated like just another chore to check off your endless to-do list. That’s counterproductive and can burn you out in no time.
     

    Remember passions are about joy. Give yourself time and don’t expect “productivity”. Most passions follow cycles, with phases where you reflect or aren’t very inspired, alternating with times when everything seems to flow by itself.
     
     

    2. You have too much going on

     

    A lot of us already have too much on their plates. They work, look after their families, go to yoga, attend social events… There never seem to be enough minutes in a day.
     

    If you think about it, it seems insane to insert time for passions into an already busy schedule. Yet that’s what most people try to do, and it’s a shortcut to burnout.
     

    Prioritising passions means to simplify and decelerate the pace of your life overall. Opt out of anything that isn’t essential. Create the space first, then fill it with passion.
     

    passions can cause burnout
    Photo by Neslihan Gunaydin on unsplash.com

     

    3. You try to do it all by yourself

     

    That’s probably the most common mistake. We have stopped thinking in terms of community. Yet nothing is more inspiring and keeps your passions fresh as well as people to share them with.
     

    Look for groups, workshops, online communities, and get involved. It’s like blowing on a flame and will give you endless ideas for your passions.