How to Prevent The Sprint to Burnout Effect


Week 400 (brendan@brendanbarca.com)

Here's your weekly dose of Fuel Your Mind Friday where I share business building ideas, lifestyle design hacks, and inspirational content to help you thrive in your work and find purpose in your life.

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PSA: My wife, Pema Sherpa, and I have another blog called The Mindful Minute! Check it out.

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HOW TO PREVENT THE SPRINT TO BURNOUT EFFECT

"Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you." - Anne Lamott


In our race to achieve our goals we often forget to hit pause. We think that if we hesitate, even for a moment, someone else will run up from behind and pass us. But for how many years can we keep up this pace? And what other parts of our life are we letting fall by the wayside as we pour all of our time and energy into this goal?

Whether we're trying to climb the corporate ladder, run our own successful business, or save for our first home, all big goals call for a deliberate approach. The problem is, our culture tries to convince us that speed is a main determinant of success. Taking a break is seen as a weakness. But, if we never take intentional breaks during the journey to our goals, we may burn out and never achieve them at all.

When I was in the corporate world, less than seven years ago, I experienced this "sprint-to-burnout" effect firsthand. For three years I had been convinced I wanted to be a wholesaler. So, I pursued this goal relentlessly. I was the first one in the office in the morning and one of the last to leave at night. I'd even come in on weekends to try to get ahead. I was on a mad dash to achieve my goal. The problem? My goal was further off than I thought and the schedule I had created for myself was unsustainable. So, after three years of racing at this speed, I broke down and never recovered. I became lazy in my job and lost my vision for the goal that I once held so tightly. Needless to say, I never became a wholesaler.

But, as I've reinvented my career, I've begun to learn how to pace myself as I strive towards new goals. In order to do this, I've had to create strict boundaries around work and rest, as to not fall into my old habits of working 7-days a week.

Here is a list of a few of the hard rules I've established for myself:

  • No working on weekends
  • No checking email on weekends
  • No checking email before 8:30 AM or after 6:00 PM
  • Mandatory 90-minute break for workout and lunch

These rules may sound simple, but if you're a "Type-A" workaholic like me, they can be hard to stick to. Writing them down somewhere that you'll see them is critical.

On top of these rules, I've also had to retrain my mind around the relationship between time, work, and success. I used to believe that the more time I put into my work, the more successful I would be. But, as I've slowly started to realize, through books like The 4-Hour Workweek & The 80/20 Principle, time spent working does not equate to success. In other words, we can often achieve our goals with far less effort than we think.

In order to encourage this type of "work less & achieve more" thinking, I developed a reward system which I borrowed from Richard Koch's "The 80/20 Principle." The system rewards big results with time off. For example, if I make a big sale that is equal to 10% of my income goal for the year, I reward myself by taking two days off. Through this approach, I have learned to focus on achieving my end goal with as little effort as possible, allowing me to create a more sustainable (and enjoyable) career.

As you work through your day today, remember that speeding to your goal may result in breaking down before you get there. Instead, think about how you can build a sustainable structure that supports slow and deliberate progress towards your goal. Rest is OK and even necessary to achieve great things. As you begin your day, ask yourself "How can I do less and achieve more today? And where can I carve out some time to give myself a break?"

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Thanks for subscribing,

- Brendan

Let's connect on LinkedIn!

brendanbarca.com

p.s. If you're a longtime subscriber you may have noticed this is a repost from a few years back. As a new father juggling a lot sometimes I need to repurpose old content. Thanks for your support!

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