We all want to be masters of our destiny, and we work hard to achieve success on our terms. Our definition of success is shaped by cultural, familial, and personal beliefs and expectations. Our sense of a meaningful life is guided by our personal values, and we prioritise resources and make decisions accordingly.
Wired for work
People experiencing Burnout often talk about being “wired for work”. The question they then pose is ‘how do I make that work for me?’. They enjoy the challenges and intellectual demands associated with striving in their life. They don’t want to lose the urge to chase a goal, but they worry that their appetite for constant achievement might be a major contributor to feeling emotionally exhausted.
If you think that your urge for success has become maladaptive along the way, the first thing you may typically do is try to put other aspects of life on hold while you draw breath. Our resources focus on doing those things which we think matter most for success, while we allow other, seemingly less important, connections fall away. In part, this is adaptive. If you are in physical danger, it makes sense that you are wired to attend only to those factors in the environment that are likely to contribute most to your ultimate survival. In contemporary life, this might look like longer hours at work, less time interacting with family and friends, fewer “distractions” and greater “focus” on a narrow set of activities.
What does “success” mean?
The problem is that living in this blinkered state for any length of time is a myopic attitude to optimal functioning.
Burnout Recovery means achieving capacity to move fluidly from a state of high focus and productivity to a calm and restorative state.
It is often not realistic or possible to have control over our working schedule and demands. Resourcing deficits, administrative requirements and professional expectations can interfere with our best-made plans for a balanced life. Re-evaluating our metric for success is one of the ways we can effect meaningful change.
Understanding what your core life values are provides a compass for guiding decisions about how you want to live.
Connect with your purpose
Remember that life is as much about what you choose to do, as it is about what you choose not to do. Connecting with your sense of Purpose, the reason you went into the tunnel in the first place, is likely more effective than looking constantly for the light at the end.
Think about one good thing about life that you last enjoyed. Is what you are currently striving for the aim?
How do your thoughts and actions serve that intention?
What is one thing you could do in the next 15 minutes which would be a clearer commitment to your aim?
Learn more in our free downloadable BURNOUT RECOVERY (AND PREVENTION) – TIPS FOR BUSY PROFESSIONALS.
Dr Bek is a Burnout Recovery (and Prevention) Coach who helps busy people create workable plans for managing the immutable stressors in their life. She has a special interest in working with professionals in the veterinary, nursing, and medical fields.
Rebekah Doley BA(Hons) GradDipPsyPrac MSc(Inv Psy) MJur(Law) MPsy(Clin)/ PhD
Clinical & Forensic Psychologist
Registered Psychologist (AHPRA) | Chartered Psychologist (BPS) | Mediator