Is this what burnout looks like to you? It is certainly how I have felt before…
This is actually a monk seal resting (they hunt at night) on the beach in Kauai, Hawaii. If I were to be burned out again, Kauai would be a nice place for it.
Have you ever been burned out? I have succumbed to complete exhaustion, frustration and disappointment when things were not working out or not headed in a direction that seemed worthwhile. It was like reaching for and chasing the carrot, sometimes for years, but never being able to catch it. After struggling very hard to find it but not being able to, I just wanted to give up.
Getting close to the carrot a few times in my life felt nearly fantastic. At one point I had a plan, or at least a dream, of ‘retiring’ at age 40. It would free me. It didn’t work out that way.
I reset the goal to age 50. That plan got completely torpedoed out of the water. I continued to struggle and strive for the one thing that would bring me peace and contentment, the elusive carrot, just out of hand’s grasp.
A dive into hopelessness shoved me right into burnout’s reality. I couldn’t function and felt like things would never get better, but always knew if I just hung on, I could pull myself back up out of its grip. I did.
After searching, reading and contemplating nature, I now realize there is no carrot. It is an illusion. We only have Now. Contentment only comes when we find a passion about what we are doing in the moment. Once we make a habit of it, we feel much more alive and involved.
I’m now looking happily toward the magic number of age 62 when I hope to ‘retire’ from my current job, but also living in the Now much more than I used to. My life is not always exactly how I want it to be, but no more thoughts of disillusionment exist in my mind. I now feel blessed that I am healthy and able to work and grateful for the opportunities it brings me daily.
It is with pure pleasure that I commute. My focus is on the traffic, surely, but also am thrilled in noticing nature open her gifts in the now, every day twice a day during my workweek.
Oh, my Now still has dreams and wants, no doubt. It is simple. It takes planning and is completely reachable. One step at a time gets me there. There is not really there, it is here. I enjoy the journey just as much as, if not more than, the destination. The carrot is no longer in my thought process. It doesn’t exist anymore.
I do have a wish list of things I want to do in life. I want to visit my family more often and share enjoyable activities. I want to become enchanted by synchronous fireflies in the Smokey Mountains and write about it. I want to hear sandhill cranes as they migrate through the Platte River and write about it.
I want to be mesmerized by the Northern Lights and write about it. I want be in the middle of the monarch butterfly migration and write about it. I want to drink in the beauty of fields of tulips in bloom and write about it.
I want to feel the earth tremor from the large animal migrations in Africa and write about it. I want to SCUBA in far off tropical places and come away with photos and stories of creatures and scenery and write about it. I want to become a better photographer and add my photos to my stories.
As for right now, this very instant, I am grateful for the sunrise, my morning tea, a good night’s sleep, the hilarious song of the mockingbird and the sound of rain falling. I never run out of things to be grateful for. Now is my ticket to freedom to engage with people through conversation and activities that encourage sharing of ideas and insight into looking at my world in new ways.
Since writing Burnout many years ago, I have come to understand fully that what we focus on, we create. I am responsible for creating my own burnout through my thoughts. I now have the power to create my own magic through my thoughts. Life is fantastic right Now, this very instant.