Web Toolbar by Wibiya Awaken Dreams Success Coaching: The Danger in Being Passionate About Your Work

The Danger in Being Passionate About Your Work

by Debi Auger

I was driving home from an appointment the other day, listening to music, happily singing along to Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)." (I love that song and I was alone so not torturing anyone, LOL.) It was inspirational and uplifting actually, as I was sitting there thinking 'God I hope she's right!'... because dammit I'm lucky 2013 didn't kill me.

You see, there's an inherent danger in being passionate about what you do. It's called burnout. And it will kick your ass worse than an MMA champ in a title fight. Trust me.

You know I'm a multi-passionate entrepreneur and, rather than choose between (among??) them, I indulge and manage them. I'm a total Type-A, obsessively organized person so it works... at least until something gets knocked wildly out of balance and then, well... not so much. And that's exactly what happened back in October.

I'm super-passionate about my work with creative entrepreneurs and there's a special place in my heart for artisans. I am one. I'm the owner and designer at Designs by Debi. As part of that work and my work here, I've spent the last 9 years or so watching online handmade venues with interest.

Someone Else's Mistake Can Be Your Opportunity

The fact that they all seem to follow the same path, venturing down the slippery slope of allowing non-handmade categories (vintage and supplies usually), is a pet peeve of mine. So, for many years now, I've wanted to start an organization and marketplace. But it never seemed feasible... until October when Etsy released their new guidelines and ignited a firestorm in the handmade community. (Not giving them the benefit of links from this blog. Sorry. If you haven't already seen/heard about it, just Google "new etsy guidelines".)

I had noticed the changes going on at Etsy, but even I was shocked that they were now openly allowing... right in their guidelines... exactly what sellers have been complaining about for years! I actually thought it was a joke when I first saw it. And, once I saw it wasn't, I was livid that a company that made its name as "The place to buy and sell handmade" was now selling out the artisans who rely on them and built them into who they are! Wow.

Long story short (more will come in later posts, I promise), it was time. Now there was a legitimate need for what I had been wanting to do all these years. 

Some people go into "holiday slow mode" and take it a bit easy at the end of the year. Then there are those who consider it a challenge to see just how much they can get done before year end. Two guesses what group I fall into.

And I'd have to add that to an already-full plate, topped off by the fact that we were heading into the holiday season. If you're an artisan, you know what chaos that brings... trying to balance wish lists, get-togethers with family and friends, and your own holiday shopping (yeah, right!) all during your business's craziest time of the year! It can exhaust even the strongest among us!

But I was passionate about this.

I wanted to do this.

I've been waiting YEARS to do this.

So I did it. I took it on. 

Don't get me wrong, I am blissfully excited about this. It's been a dream for a long time. However, it involves an incredible amount of time and work. But I was off and running... grabbed all the notes I'd been making over the years, put things in motion, got a focus group going, decided to start the organization first as a movement to run a marketplace from, designed the branding, built a website... and on... and on... and on...

And THAT is one of the ways being passionate about your work can kill you. 

You love your work so much and you're so excited about the many (hundreds??) of projects you're working on, you don't even notice the symptoms. There are so many things you want to do. You think you're Wonder Woman. You think you can do it all. You work umpteen hours a day, burn the candle at both ends (maybe sometimes even in the middle!), you sacrifice self-care for more work hours and then...

you CRASH. 


And that's exactly what happened to me. Once the holidays were over, I was exhausted beyond words. So I decided to lighten the load by limiting the amount of input I was getting blasted with on a daily basis. I went on a "digital diet" from January 1st - 6th so I could focus on my work and plans for the year.

It was too late.

It didn't help.

As days went on, the exhaustion expanded and I completely crashed. Burnout came in a take-no-prisoners kinda way and steamrolled right over me. I got so sick, I spent most of the rest of January in bed. I probably should've been in the hospital. But then I wouldn't have been able to work (EEK!!). Yes, ignore the fact that that should've been the whole point.

I'm certainly not perfect. I push the boundaries of entrepreneurship... and myself... to the extreme sometimes. I should know better so it's embarrassing in a way. This time I let people down. I didn't show up for things. I didn't meet deadlines. Most of them were self-imposed, but it doesn't matter. It killed me inside. 

And that made the problem worse.

Then I read a post by Chris Ducker about his own recent battle with burnout, and, admittedly it helped me to know that someone I look up to had just went through the same thing... it helped me stop beating myself up for "letting it happen." I was so impressed with his transparency and the fact that he cared enough about his readers to share this in hopes it would help us, that I wanted to do the same for you; to write about my experience. 

But I couldn't seem to get anything done. I'd sit at the computer, but nothing would get accomplished. I'd just stare at the screen, depleted of energy, completely lacking ambition, and totally worthless. Then I'd fall asleep... sitting up!  

And, just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, all this was compounded by the deaths of two close family friends, and a medical emergency with my dog during which I almost lost him, too! 

Honestly, by the end of March I was wiped out. I could barely see the light at the top of the chasm I had fallen into. It's like I've been on a non-stop, 6-month roller-coaster ride and I'm only now... finally... starting to feel noticeably better. And we're in MAY. I've lost almost 5 months of the year for God's sake! 

So, as embarrassing... and humbling... as it may be to publish this post, I'm doing it because:
• I'm hoping you can learn from my mistakes
• If it has happened... or is happening... to you, I don't want you to be embarrassed or feel alone, and
• If it happens to you in the future, you'll know where you can find someone who understands.

An Ounce of Prevention...

I sincerely hope it never happens to you so let's look at some ways to prevent it and to recover from it (just in case... better safe than sorry). And I'll share some mistakes I've made, lessons learned and things I'm trying.

Here's a great infographic by TheSimpleDollar.com with ways to avoid burnout:

Six Ways to Avoid Burnout

Let's Set Some Goals

I'm a work in progress and I make a lot of mistakes. But that's all part of learning and figuring it out, right? Here are some things I know I need to work on to prevent this from happening again.

1. Take time off and time to take care of myself
I had started taking Sundays off, a "free day" to do fun stuff. Of course, that was the first thing to go when I took on all these projects. 

  I've started getting back to that.

Self-care also suffered a lot... I wasn't getting anywhere near enough sleep. Health concerns went ignored. Exercise stopped.

✔ Three long-overdue doctors appointments taken care of last week. 

 Weather is getting nicer so Niko and I can start walking again.

 DIY'd my Incline Trainer into a treadmill desk (more likely to walk longer if I can work at the same time).

Pretty much anything that took time away from work suffered (except for Niko bless his heart and thank goodness I have him).

We all need to take time to show ourselves some love and refill our cup. Learning that, by doing this, I can show up even better for my clients gives me the incentive I need.

2. Say NO more often... and don't feel guilty.
This is waaaaaaaay tricky for me, especially when things are being asked by people I like, or I'm really passionate about the issue/need in question. So I need A LOT of help with this. 

✔ Have my goals and plans for the year, and help to say 'no' to the things that don't align with them.

Here are some great articles that I found useful in case you have the same problem:

3. Stop trying to do everything myself
I did everything myself (except for having an accountant) for way too long. I realized I just couldn't anymore. Not only is my health at risk if I continue this way, but I have goals for a 7-figure business and I just cannot grow my business any more without bringing more help on board. 

Since the fall, I've added 2 people to my team... 
✔ a bookkeeper  
and a Virtual Assistant. 
And I'll be adding more soon. (Better late than never.)

I want to give a shout out and big thank you to Chris Ducker for essentially creating a step-by-step guide for outsourcing with his book "Virtual Freedom" that came out in April. It's getting put to good use.

Business Review

In light of those 3 new priorities, I've also been making changes in my business. I've had to accept the fact that I can't do every single thing I want to do... at least not right now; especially since I have a bad habit of trying to do them all at once. 

So I've been re-evaluating everything; deciding which things will move forward now; which things will wait; and which ones just won't be getting done at all. It's not easy, there have been some tough choices to make. But thankfully I'm still here to make them ;-)

More Help...

To help us in our endeavor to keep burnout at bay, I started a Pinterest board with resources to avoid and recover from burnout.

The book "High-Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout" by Sherrie Bourg Carter has been put at the top of my read-ASAP list.

...and a Bit of Serendipity

And I have one more for you!! I hopped onto Facebook to quickly share a resource with one of my groups this morning before publishing this post and I was met with this beautiful image from my friend Carey at the top of my newsfeed:

© Carey Kingsbury - used with permission

Some of you may recognize Carey's name because she's one of the health referrals I give to my clients when we discuss self-care for entrepreneurs (because as you can see that is not my specialty).

Have you ever read the book "When God Winks at You: How God Speaks Directly to You By the Power of Coincidence" by Squire Rushnell? Personally, I'm in agreement with Gibbs' Rule #39: There's no such thing as coincidence. But I'm extremely intuitive and I trust that implicitly. And I've learned to watch out for these "coincidences" even more so after reading that book.

In light of that, I'm taking part in Carey's Joy Cleanse because it sounds like just what I need to reset myself after this ordeal. I'm sharing it with you because maybe you're exhausted, frustrated and mucked up with pain and lack of energy, too.

It appealed to me because it's not just a cleanse of the body like you normally hear about; it also targets your mindset and helps you get your mind, body and soul back into alignment. Quoted from Carey's site: "It's a fifteen day guided cleanse (5 days eating + juicing, 5 days juicing, 5 days eating + juicing) designed to raise your alkalinity, give your body the nutrition it craves, and clear out the gunk in your body and mind so that your soul can come out to play!"

I LOVE that... "so that your soul can come out to play!" I think it sounds perfect for me right now and a great way to start fresh and prepare to deliver all the greatness I have planned for you this year. Wanna join us? Have a look and see if it's right for you. (and no, that's not an affiliate link... just sharing what I'm trying to get myself back on track in hopes it could help you, too ;-) )

How About You?

Have you ever experienced burnout? What do you do to prevent it or to recover from it? Share in the comments below and we can help each other.

Much Success,

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