I’ve given a lot of thought to how I became ill and what the contributing factors were. Certainly there were many things and not so suitable to discuss in one blog post. Something I have mentioned before is perseverance and that it didn’t serve me well.
I know that perseverance is a strength of mine. In Martin Seligman’s signature strengths test it was my top strength (industry, diligence and perseverance) and I scored really high on the grit assessment in his new book Flourish.
So why then did I have burnout? I worry that people think I’m weak and I can’t handle stress. Yes, I shouldn’t worry about what people think but it does cross my mind. My theory is that my perseverance is so strong that I pushed myself into a lifelong illness. I refused to quit and became ill as a result of it. My body finally gave in before my mind did.
I know that I have a need for achievement and I’ve been told that it is all about earning approval. But I don’t agree. I think it’s just part of who I am. A major thing I’ve learned this year is to be true to myself. To celebrate Authentic Kathy and to not try to be someone else to please anyone. I believe I need to honour that drive for achievement and success.
But, I’ve spent a year at home, recovering. It has been a great struggle for me to rest and to put achievement on the back burner for the sake of my health. Many people would be thrilled to be told they can’t exercise or work for a year. I have struggled with it.
In my year of rest I felt compelled to write and I have enjoyed the cathartic aspect of writing. I have written a book and hope to have it published in the future. Even in a year of rest I could not help myself. I wanted the year to count for something. I didn’t want to look back on this year and have my only achievement be recovery. How boring.
I created a modest goal of writing a book in a year. Modest, in light of my illness. I was able to temper my need for achievement to the current circumstances. And I have achieved it, whether or not the book is ever published. And I thought that I’d take November and December off just as the last bit of recovery and to think about what to do with myself next year.
Last week I did my tax and I looked through my work calendar over the tax year as a reminder of the things I did. And I recalled with nostalgia how great it was to meet such interesting entrepreneurs and how much I enjoyed helping them to reach their goals. My work didn’t contain nearly enough of that helping part. And there are many things I don’t miss about the business. But I do find myself missing the work around helping people to implement useful solutions.
It’s hard not to be concerned about what to do next. I”m doing my best to trust that the right thing will come my way but I’m struggling with the boredom. Maybe I need to learn to just relax for a change. Or maybe I must be true to myself and find something challenging to focus on next year. I could start on another book but the inspiration hasn’t yet landed. I know that the IT industry in which I was trained is a stressful place to be and not so suitable for someone coming out of a burnout.
But there must be something I can sink my teeth into where I can make use of my talents to help people. Something that makes the most of my strengths and that does not deplete me. I’m afraid to dive into something and pull out because it demands too much of me or it was the wrong thing.
I suppose I should listen to the words of Susan Jeffers in that there are no wrong decisions, just different ones. “The trick is simply to make whatever place you’re in an educational forum and learn everything you can about yourself and the world around you. So – lighten up! Whatever happens as a result of your decision, you’ll handle it.”Follow me: