Burnout comes from attempting to solve the same problem over and over again, unsuccessfully.
Burnout, contrary to most beliefs, does not (usually) come from working too much.
In our experience, most high achievers are hard workers. And, if you’re like me, there have been times when you’re working hard and making tremendous progress. That can be invigorating, in spite of the long hours.
Other times, we may be putting in the hours and not getting the results. That triggers burnout.
As we close out each quarter, here’s an exercise to use during your thinking time, or in your next team meeting.
- How would you rate your overall performance for this quarter, on a scale of 1 – 100?
- How would you rate your personal performance for this quarter, on a scale of 1 – 100?
- How would you rate your professional performance for this quarter, on a scale of 1 – 100?
Then, let’s break out personal and professional:
1. Personally, what things did you do really well?
These are the things that brought you energy… the things that you intend to continue doing in the near future and beyond. (relationships, physical fitness, time off, self-care, etc.)
Reflecting on the things you did well brings you energy. It allows you (or your team members) to acknowledge that progress has been made. Sometimes you can feel the progress without necessarily seeing it – sort of like exercising a new muscle group… you feel the progress before you see it in the mirror.
2. Personally, what are your areas for improvement?
These are the things that you’re already doing that could be done better. Maybe the things that you didn’t get around to doing, or didn’t make time for. When you do them, they’ll bring you more energy and move you closer to 100.
Focus on progress, not perfection.
3. Professionally, what things did you do really well?
These are the things that are moving you in the direction of your goals. Consider organizing these into the categories of the first 3 Ps of the 4Ps – Productivity, Projects, People (the 4th P is personal and we tackled that already). Check out our in-depth guide to The 4Ps for a more detailed explanation.
Reflecting on business progress is critically important to maintaining your mindset and your business energy. Many high achievers fall into the trap of focusing on the mountain top. They often think – When I get there, it’ll be great. If I’m not there yet, it sucks. Be wary of that type of thinking.
If reflecting on your progress for this quarter doesn’t bring as much positive energy as you’d like, stretch the timeline backward by asking:
What progress have I made in the past year?
How different is my business now than it was 5 years ago?
(Based on that, imagine the possibilities 5 years from now!)
4. Professionally, what are your areas for improvement?
Be mindful not to find yourself on the hamster wheel, doing the same thing every day. Incremental growth is the key to success.
In what ways could you be more Proactive? More Creative?
In what ways could you focus on your Skills?
Check out our recent article on being more Proactive and Creative.
And, check out our Advanced Skills Courses for more ideas.
Ideally, you’ll have 2 long lists of the things you did well.
You’ll also likely have 2 long lists of areas for improvement.
If you chase two rabbits, both will get away.
(no rabbits were harmed in the telling of this joke)
Questions to consider when prioritizing:
- What can I do right now?
- What can I do this week?
- What will I accomplish this month?
- What will I focus on by the end of the quarter?
- What will I accomplish by the end of the year?
Setting short-term, intermediate-term, and long-term goals gives us the ability to treat business (and life) like the marathon that it is.
This is not about doing everything. This is about incremental, purposeful growth – personally and professionally.
Personal growth brings energy.
Professional growth brings business results.
The combination of the two is invigorating.
That’s how to avoid burnout.