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Last updated on June 20th, 2012 at 08:00 pm
I used to work in corporate America where there was no such thing as a 40-hour work week. If you were lucky, you got away with 55 hours as an average week. At first it would feel like a grand commitment to something greater than yourself, something fortuitous and wonderful where you landed a great job with amazing benefits.
Until two years pass by like two days; and you suddenly find yourself getting pissed off at whoever might have purchased the last Mounds bar in the vending machine three floors below your oddly decorated blue cubicle.
Yes, people decorate their cubicles.
Because if they didn’t they’d blow their brains out in just under three years. Ever stare at a blue felt wall for 10 hours a day? Then you’d understand why workers decorate their cubicles with plants and Beanie dolls and fight to the death-match over a spot by a window – even though that coveted spot would require them to stand on their chair just to see a piece of sky and the building next door.
They never do stand on their chair to see the sky and the building next door, because it turns out their cubicle is built in such a way that they face the mens bathroom, or the janitors door, and they never look up from their monitor anyway.
What does this have to do with dream burnout?
Because in work burnout you can go along thinking you are fine at working this crazy, nut-job pace until people begin warning you about burnout. It’s usually the 15 year veterans who use big-sounding words like “vacation” and “exercise” and “water bottles” and “breaks”.
They tell you to slow down, leave the building and warn you to watch for the burnout “signs” like –
Thinking every day is a bad day.
Caring about your work or home life seems like a total waste of energy.
Being exhausted all the time.
The majority of your day is spent on tasks you find either mind-numbingly dull or overwhelming.
You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated.
I think that just sounds like life as a mom of a teenager.
But burnout? Really?
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.
Burnout reduces your productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.
Why thanks Melinda Smith, M.A for that explanation.
Burnout can happen with your dreams too.
It’s because when you start down this dream path, you think “if I do A it will lead to B, then I’ll do C and then D will show up and my dream will catapult to the stars!” and you lock yourself into something resembling a blue felt cubicle.
But dreams don’t come true in a set way, or even look they way you think they will. They tend to take on a life of their own and the clear-cut plan you’ve executed actually ends up looking more like, “I’ve done D, now there’s P, and I’m on to A and now I’m stuck here. . . still stuck here . . . hello … still stuck.”
And so you slog along on your dream until you hate it, believing it is the most stupid idea you’ve ever thought of since the time you went out with Sally’s brother who liked to eat with his mouth open and pass gas when he thought no one noticed – except everyone noticed and thought it was you. Successful dreaming requires that you believe in yourself and your dream even when no one else does, but there will be times that you want to give up, take your toys from the sandbox and march home to your bedroom and hide.
Best-selling author and top business motivational speaker Harvey Mackey tells us –
Life is not a parabolic curve. It doesn’t go straight up. There’s lots of lumps and a lot of bumps, a lot of throttling up and a lot of throttling down. Yet, I’ve never met a successful person that hasn’t had to overcome a lot of adversity in their lives.
That is how dreaming goes . . . a lot of throttling up and a lot of throttling down. You learn to dream like like a sprinter – not a long-distance runner. To avoid burnout you should oscillate between breaking away from working on your dream and working constantly on your dream. Some weeks you will work on your dream every day, only to fall into the next week and not work on your dream at all.
This is the smart way to dream.
Work your dream like a sprinter – push yourself to stretch beyond your comfort zone by taking a big risk, overcoming a fear and trying something scary – then allow yourself time to recover. Like last week when I spoke at Ignite and was forced to overcome my fear of speaking without notes in front of a large group. The following week I allowed myself to take a break from the next step in my dream to work on the Set Your Path workbook.
It was Leonardo Da Vinci who said –
It is a very good plan every now and then to go away and have a little relaxation. When you come back to the work your judgment will be surer, since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose the power of judgment.
I say –
It is a very good plan every now and then to go away and have a little relaxation. When you come back to the dream your judgment will be surer, since to remain consistently thinking and working your dream will cause you to lose the magic of dreaming.
Be a dream sprinter so you don’t burnout and if you are feeling dream burnout, what can you do to re-charge your dream batteries this week?
Catherine Hughes is the founder, content director and editor-at-large of 8WomenDream. She is passionate about helping women step out of their own way and strike out into a world waiting for their special talents. She’s a published author and a former award-winning mom blogger. Catherine has helped companies both large and small create engaging web content, social media narratives, and unique blogging platforms. She claims to be a redhead, but don’t hold that against her.
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