Executive Coaching for Women

Executive Coaching for Women

The Truth About Burnout And What We Can Control

These truths will set you free.

Burnout doesn’t just happen. 

Perhaps it’s easier to keep churning out “how-to-stop” articles about burnout than it does to accept some hard truths about our relationship to ourselves. The solution will bring women closer to avoiding the problem of overwork, overcommitment and overwhelm. However, it often requires a radical self-evaluation.

Women want a better life, a thriving career, success without sacrifice. This is impossible to achieve unless we commit to seeing our relationship to current circumstances keeping us “trapped. Indeed, it takes crazy courage to be rigorously honest, especially if we have been used to seeing only the problems. Tara Brach, one of my favourite meditation teachers refers to the blame shifting as the “Bad Other”. 

Anytime we blame our pain, our circumstance, and our problems on other people, we are “othering”. In this context, othering includes organizations, bosses, cultures.

But let’s be honest with ourselves. Does over-focusing on our circumstances alone or on “others” ever really change anything?

Here is the list of 7 Truths That You Have The Power To Control:

1. Burnout Is NOT an Event

You don’t suddenly wake up one day with burnout. The symptoms of burnout are a result of an accumulation of chronic stressors that often go unnoticed. When I was at my height of burnout,
I was convinced that I was having a heart attack. Stress and burnout didn’t compute. Think of a bicycle tire that has lost its cap. It slowly leaks air until it becomes deflated. It’s the same with our energy. If we don’t know how to plug the energy drains, then eventually we start to deplete too.

2. Hating your job Leads to Burnout

Every job comes with bad days, even “dream jobs”. However, hating your job is an entirely different feeling. Hating your job is often marked with a growing sense of dissatisfaction that turns into apathy. When smart women work within their zone of genius, burnout doesn’t happen. Bad days happen, but burnout doesn’t. If you are ignoring a nagging feeling that you were called to do more, don’t stuff it down. If you do, burnout lurks. Or, at the very least, unhappiness does. There are other options besides wine therapy.

3. Lack of personal growth Leads to Burnout

We have seen this time and time again. The most successful people in life are continually learning and growing. However, there are two types of learning. There is “textbook” learning and then there is “personal” learning.  Often, I speak with women who have no problem dropping 10K on a new accreditation but wouldn’t dream of spending 10k on personal growth. If you truly desire well-being, it starts with understanding who you are first.

That’s inconvenient.

Personal growth is a process of both understanding yourself and pushing yourself to reach your highest potential. It means always asking yourself who you are becoming and what you value. It can involve working on new habits that ward off overwork and practising new leadership and empowerment strategies in the workplace.

4. Bad Habits Lead to Burnout

I could write a whole book on this topic, but so many others already have. However, let me add a twist in the context of women who are overworked and overwhelmed. When stress takes a hold over you, bad habits start to multiply like a California desert wildfire. So often, women come see me when they have already experienced exhaustion, anxiety, and other physical burnout symptoms. However, once we really start to examine our routines, we often uncover other things, such as procrastination, poor prioritization, and lack of critical self-care habits. Nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate sleep can’t be overstated enough. Not to mention heart-centered breathing, journaling, and other good habits proven to increase coherence and optimal functioning. In fact, HeartMath techniques, lead to successful communication and decision outcomes, which positively impact stress levels.

4. Being an Over-Achiever Leads to Burnout

This truth isn’t difficult to swallow. Most women I coach already know this about themselves. Over-Achieving Women are prone to overwork, stress, and people pleasing – all factors that lead to burnout. Over-Achieving women are ambitious and push themselves to a high standard. This can lead to perfectionism and working twice as hard. However, this can quickly turn into a vicious cycle of proving to ourselves and others. This constant need for validation is costly, both mentally and physically. This was my story and I paid dearly for it.

6. Resentments Lead to Burnout

Marissa Meyerformer Google Executive and Yahoo! CEO, has an interesting theory on the topic of burnout. In her opinion, burnout isn’t a result of having to work so many hours, it’s about the feeling of resentment in missing out on things that are important to you. While I am not a proponent of working past your peak performance zone, I understand what she’s saying and see it with my clients too. They “miss out” on high value activities, such as exercise or hanging out with their kids. So, when working with women, we always start out by asking, “what do you really want?” and reverse engineer any resentments that are contributing to high pressure.

7. Impressing Others Leads to Burnout

Don’t strive to become a woman that other people around you will appreciate and like. A truly transcendent woman is not in this world to conform to the expectations of others, but only to herself.  I spent so many years as an executive woman focused on impressing people by conforming to their standards. If you are a loyal follower of mine, then you will know that this cost me dearly. Anytime you live a life that is not in integrity with who you really are, will cost you.

Understanding this will help you to ward off the stress that accompanies wearing a mask at work. I used to hate the expression, “You DO You”. Now, I actually get it. 

You Do You.

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