I’m not advocating an unbalanced lifestyle, on the contrary, I think learning to balance your passions with the rest of your life is extremely important from a psychological & motivational perspective.
However, in reality, there are times when you just need to get shit done. And in that period, it’s unquestionable, that you are going to work a lot, you are going to have a lot of stress on your shoulders, and hence, it’s highly likely that you are going to burnout.
So if there are times in life when we need to do this for some unsaid reason, then knowing how to burn better is something we should practice.
Here are my principles for Burning Better:
1. It’s Your Choice
The first thing to come to terms with is that, despite the toughness of your 12–16 hour work days, despite the drain of sleeping little and feeling run down, you are the one choosing to do this.
You are the one trying to get your business off the ground, or go for that next promotion. You are the one who still underneath has pride in the fact that you’re a ‘go-getter’ and can smash out these long days to get things done.
So the first step to burning out better is to understand that it’s your choice. This is your life and you are the one who chooses what to do with it. Right now you are choosing to churn through work in order to get to an outcome.
Once you accept that, then this thing you are choosing to do, already isn’t so bad.
2. Stress & Problems are Relative
You’re on a deadline, things aren’t going well, your project’s falling to pieces! Naturally, the stress is going to get to you. Your problems weigh so heavily on your shoulders. And ohh, how unique and difficult your problems are when compared to anyone else.
Stop and look out the window. Remember that as you read this: you’re just one little dot on this giant rotating rock and that you have the choice to spend your dotlife in any way you choose. That there are many other dots out there who would trade dotlifes with you in an instant. So really, your dot problems aren’t that bad.
Next time when you have wrapped up for the day, and you are feeling like shit, wondering why you do it to yourself. Go outside in the cold night, look up at the tiny stars billions of miles away. Imagine flying up from where you stand, seeing the little backyard shrink away and be enveloped by suburbs, then states, then countries, until they all become one earth. Keep going, the further you go the smaller our earth becomes, soon all that is distinguishable is our sun and it shrinks smaller and smaller until it’s the size of that little star that we started gazing at.
Now think back, all the way to that inconceivably small little planet with it’s inconceivably small little human and ask: do my problems really matter? If that doesn’t make you laugh and reframe your problems, then I recommend tai chi.
3. Stop when it’s done!
When you get into this hyperdrive mode, despite being run down and stressed, there’s a little part of you deep down that loves it. You get used to working long days, and the feeling of super productivity feels amazing!
At this point it’s very easy to keep going like this, not stopping to question yourself: do I really need to be pushing this hard? You have to be honest with yourself, and when that answer becomes a ‘not really’ then you need to stop burning and start recharging.
If you don’t, then it’s not going to be long before your high comes crashing down and all are left with is a feeling of demotivation, questioning what you were doing it for.
No matter what you are working on, there is more to life than work, and you can’t keep neglecting your friends, family & health for it… unless you are curing cancer; your friends can wait.