Blood, Sweat, & Careers — A Tribute to Life After Burnout

Where It All Began

Picture this — you and your friends graduated from college — such a defining moment! Your friends landed jobs on Wall Street at sophisticated, well-known banks and are relocating to the big apple. Meanwhile, you packed the U-Haul and moved to a small, unknown town 3.5 hours from home. Your alarm clock is ringing at 10:00 PM, and you drag yourself out of bed in the pitch dark to get ready for work. Selecting an outfit is easy, you have a uniform consisting of steel-toed boots, khakis, and a company-supplied polo shirt typically 3 sizes too big (they didn’t have women’s sized clothing in manufacturing) and of course, a hairnet. You drive to work on the quiet roads while your neighbors are turning out their lights and drifting off to sleep. Once at work, you begin your shift by being notified that three people on your team called in sick, a piece of equipment is broken, and the main ingredient you need to have a successful shift (potatoes!) did not arrive on time. Your worknight consists of scurrying around to re-schedule each person, tracking down a grumpy mechanic to fix the broken machine, and once the potatoes arrive, rolling up your sleeves to help the team catch up. As your shift comes to an end, the sun is rising and you’re heading home smelling like salt & vinegar or worse — sour cream and onion!

Fast forward 15+ years.

From supervising teams in a potato chip factory; to a major pivot into human resources; to building a college recruiting department for a global company — from scratch — I have successfully made 10+ career jumps, U-turns, promotions, and steps up and down, across multiple industries and Fortune 200 companies that have left me with life-long lessons, experiences, successes, failures, and even a few surprises along the way. I have also experienced some serious seasons of burnout over the years.

A daily walk in nature

Daily Ritual 1 — Time in Nature

One of the most memorable daily rituals started while working the graveyard shift. As you can imagine, after being awake all night, it’s tough to figure out a daily routine… I never knew when to eat or sleep or run errands or hit the gym. One of the things I recall that helped the most, was a stop at the local park on my drive home each morning. Luckily, I discovered a quiet, well-manicured park directly on my route … it was a perfect place to decompress. The sounds of birds chirping and ducks quacking, along with the smell of cut grass in the summer (or fresh snowfall in the winter) and wet sneakers from the morning dew felt calming and allowed me to enjoy the fact that I was able to take the time to decompress while everyone else was in a mad rush to start their day. This was my first encounter with the healing power of nature. And to this day, it’s still part of my daily morning routine.

Daily Ritual 2 — A Gratitude Practice

Back in my corporate days, I often felt depleted before even getting out of bed in the morning. My first thought of the day would be something to the effect of, “ugh I just need to get through this day — week — month and then I’ll be able to catch my breath.” Literally wishing the days away from the moment I woke up. This is not a great way to make the most of each day if you ask me. Replacing those thoughts with a daily gratitude practice was a gamechanger. It’s a simple way to re-program your mind to recognize the good in each day. And it’s easy! I spend 5 minutes each morning with the notes app on my phone typing three things I’m most grateful for. Simple things like playing with Tula or making time for a quiet, nutritious lunch outdoors.

Daily Ritual 3 — Intention Setting

Once I noticed the joy in starting a morning gratitude practice, I realized I had a tough time winding down in the evenings, so I shifted my gratitude practice to the evenings — thinking through allll the goodness from the day and recognizing how much I had to be thankful for. Morning gratitude was replaced with a couple of minutes of intention setting — thinking through my schedule and setting a positive intention for each interaction. Again, nothing extravagant, simply associating a few words with each day. For example, if I had more meetings on my calendar than I was comfortable with, I set the intention each meeting would be enjoyable resulting in flow and ease. And, surprisingly enough, it usually happened just the way I intended.

Gratitude and Stress

It’s worth mentioning gratitude again. Quick story — during a tough time at my 9–5, I distinctly remember a Monday morning when I had a hard time catching my breath before work. So, I spent some time writing the phrase “life supports me” over and over & then jotted down every.single.thing I was grateful for in that moment.

Boundaries and Balance

With today’s rapid pace of work, flexible work arrangements, and constant change, setting healthy boundaries with work are more difficult and more important than ever before.

Be Intentional

Let’s face it, there’s a lot of noise + negativity surrounding us on the daily. What consumes the mind, controls the soul — what a powerful saying! I don’t know about you but I’ve had to force myself to step away from the madness — the information — upon information — upon information that is tossed at me every minute of the day is enough to make my mind spin.

  • The evening news has been traded for an evening walk at least 2x a week
  • Time blocks on my calendar dedicated to managing email versus reacting every time a new message pops up on my screen

Life After Burnout

It took a while for me to realize that for me, climbing the corporate ladder + a cushy salary was not worth the soul-sucking effort that it took to get through each day. There is no badge of honor at the top of the ladder for “powering through” or “making it.” In fact, typically, it’s quite the opposite — you make it to the top rung only to run smack into more work, less recognition, and so much anxiety that you’re too tired to appreciate each day.

Jenn is on a mission to support others navigate the world of work by resetting boundaries and igniting action to live their happiest lives ❀ Flourish.Careers

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