Lessons from Burnout

Sunday, November 09, 2008

When I first started in the event industry, I was planning events for a non-profit.  I literally worked about 90-100 hours a week.  I would eat all three meals at the office, go home for about four hours of sleep (and not sound sleep at that) and then wake up to do it all over again.  This lifestyle went on for about 18 months. 

At the time it was easy to justify: there was a lot of work to be done as there were some emergency situations at the time, the work I was doing was for a greater good (humanitarian aid), and besides, if I didn't do it, who would?  The department would fall apart without me.

I burned out.  I didn't just get tired - I lost all joy.  My blood pressure was high, I was so anxious that I couldn't turn my mind off to sleep when it needed to, and I ended up being depressed.  I burned the wick at both ends, and all that was left was a shell of a woman who for so long had wrapped up her entire identity in her work.

As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20 and looking back I can identify a lot of the lies I believed about work and business and a lot of lessons I learned along the way.  When I decided to launch out on my own and start my own company, I put specific boundaries in place as to how I would work and how I would run my business so that I could avoid burnout this time around.

Being a workaholic is not a trait to be admired.  It is unhealthy and is not a long-term, viable strategy for a successful business or a sane life. And if you think you are the exception, you're wrong. 

This week on Twitter I'll be posting Lessons from Burnout - short little tidbits of things I've learned through the hellish experience that being a workaholic brought with it.  You can follow along here.

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