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don’t go begging for burnout

This is the time of year that typically celebrates the over-achiever.

New year, new you! Time to refocus, buckle down, and work EVEN HARDER than last year!

I don’t really buy into that anymore, and here’s why…

This whole idea of doing better this time around implies that you didn’t do well last time.

So I don’t like it if it’s not put into context (i.e. last year I did ABC and achieved XYZ, and this year I want to…).

Why?

Because it’s a recipe for burnout if you’re not looking at what you’re already doing, and resolving to simply work harder this time around.

Working harder is not the answer.

Working SMARTER is.

You don’t have to pile more and more on your plate to be busy, productive, and successful.

Would it surprise you to find out that most successful freelancers I know spend about 4-6 hours per day MAX doing their actual creative work?

Sure, they’ve still got time in there that they’re doing administrative stuff, prospecting, and the like.

But their bread and butter, that creative thing they can do that no one else can?

That takes brain power. And guts. And passion. And ideas.

Those are all assets you have, and they’re assets that can be lost if you’re not careful to protect yourself.

I call it recharging the creative well… if you don’t take time to let it refill from time to time, there will come a time when you really need it and it’s empty.

And once it’s empty there’s no guarantee it’s coming back.

I’ve got some radical theories for Generation Work-Ourselves-To-Death:

You don’t HAVE to get it all done.

The deadlines are arbitrary and you help set them (right? You are giving your clients a timeline…), so you can un-set them. NOTE: that doesn’t mean there’s not a cost to moving deadlines, but what’s the cost of your sanity?

You can achieve more than you ever thought possible, work harder than you ever thought yourself capable of.

Despite all your hard work, there will always be more work to do tomorrow. You’ll never be “done” with the work, so you might as well find comfort with putting it down for the day and declaring that good enough.

You probably care too much about what others think of you, and don’t care enough about how YOU think of you. That’s worth paying attention to.

After all, you’re the one who had to believe the most in order to get yourself here.

You’re the one who nurtured the talent and talked yourself up when no one else was around to do it for you.

You’re the one who took the risk (or who’s thinking about taking the risk), and bet on yourself.

You can be strong and still need help sometimes… and there’s no shame in asking for it.

And before you talk yourself out of asking for help, remember that there are few greater joys than providing help and hope to someone who’s lost faith in themselves. Don’t rob someone else of the joy of helping you with garbage self talk.

No one got anywhere without help.

And sometimes you have to help yourself… by taking care of yourself.

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