During the past month, I had 3 of my work partners (working for 3 different companies) being admitted to the hospital. Each for a different decease: one had a colonic perforation, enough to die if not taken care of fast enough, the second needed to go through a surgery that required a long recovery period and the third had pneumonia!
The 3 of them reached that state for the same reason: burnout, leading to failing immune system. They also had something else in common. Before falling apart they reported being “tired of being tired”!
What went wrong? A symptom of an unbalanced life
Life-hacks do not always help. Most life-hacks research revolves around achieving success, behaviors yielding the best results are observed and modeled. Then they are recommended as a recipe for success for whoever is looking for great achievement in life. So it is like modeling a sprinter at his peak performance and then recommending to everybody else to do the same for a whole life! Isn’t it a bit too much?
What to do about it?
- Slow down. You may say “this is obvious, but HOW?”. We often think of problem resolution as a black or white picture. Either there is a miracle solution either not. As for many areas in life, there is a grey zone. Instead of asking yourself “HOW can I slow down?”, try rather “WHEN can I slow down?”. Is there any chance I can extend by 10 more minutes my lunch break? Can I have a nap in the tramway? If you are able to find just ONE moment a day to slow down you are on the right track.
- Meditate: I know many persons do not believe in meditation. Simply type in any search engine: “brain reconstruction through meditation” and you will find plenty of evidence that meditation is good for you. Now suppose you are convinced, the question becomes “When”. Here a few suggestions: in public transportation, if need be wear noise-canceling headphones, in the toilets… In my case, I do it early morning before leaving the house.
- Do things that you like. Again another obvious suggestion that may seem infeasible. Let’s give it a second thought. It’s not only about WHAT we do but also about HOW we do it. The good news is that we often have more influence on the HOW. For example, Van Gogh spent his life painting his own way. Nobody valued his work and he died miserable. Now imagine someone wanted to improve Van Gogh’s financial situation and proposed a million dollar contract, all that Van Gogh had to do was to paint in line with the standards of the time and produce the maximum. This is totally in contradiction with his HOW although perfectly in line with the WHAT (painting). So what is it you can change in the way you do your work that can bring more pleasure? Read more for concrete suggestions.
- Balance your “objectives” and “resources”. Run a sufficiency check, try the below scheme on your top 3 objectives (personal and professional) and see whether the resources available seem sufficient. If resources exceed objectives you are green to the right (reversed pyramid), if not you are in the red zone and you have 3 options:
1. Reconsider your objectives,
2. Brainstorm an action plan to increase your means or
3. Burn out.
TO SUM UP
Life teaches us to be strong. If one is tired, a break is a good option, if not being strong is the second best. But remember being tired of being tired is a biological alarm that says “stop”! At that time, being strong is a very bad idea!