Confession: I have never been more ready to see the clock turn to midnight on a brand new year.
We all know that life has its ups and downs, and this year just happened to be a down in mine. One of the reasons for it? The dreaded “B” word of creative work: Burnout.
You see, I hit the five-year mark in my business this year. And somewhere along the way, I started feeling like I had created another desk job for myself. I started dreading Mondays again. I swore when I left my full-time job that I would never dread Mondays again — so how did I end up here?
When I first started my business, I also had a 9-5 job. I remember being SO excited for weekends, not for the escape, but for the eight extra hours I would have in my day to devote to my business. Blissful, uninterrupted time to do work I actually loved. In those days, I spent most of my time working — first all day at my job, then all evening on my business.
When I made the leap to run my business full-time, I worked 12-hour days without a second thought. My work energized me. Everything was new, challenging, creative, and all mine.
I've been remembering those times lately with a sense of longing, as if they were the “good old days” of my business, and life. But the truth is, the good immediately comes to the surface — not the bad. And those days had their own struggles, from being extremely overwhelmed learning how to manage everything, to wondering if I would be able to pay my bills that month. Those are not struggles I have today, and for that I am thankful.
Over the Thanksgiving holidays, I gave myself permission to completely disconnect. Friends, if you're experiencing burnout, stepping away should be your first priority. A little time and distance works wonders. No, I didn't magically figure everything out, and honestly I dreaded that Monday more than ever.
But I returned to work with a newfound determination to move forward in some way, however small it was. I remembered my own advice from years ago: You create the rules. If you don't like something in your work, you have the power to change it. After all, isn't that the whole point of creative work?
Going into 2018, I'm thinking about the things that bring me the most joy and actively making time for them in my schedule. I'm taking time to reflect on why I started this journey in the first place, and all the good that has come, and continues to come out of it. I'm working on responding to my to-do list with gratitude rather than dread.
And most of all, I'm giving myself permission. Permission to throw out the rule book and the guilt that comes with it. Permission to rest and relax over the holidays. And permission to take whatever time I need to get past this phase in my business and life.
I still have more work to do. But my Mondays are feeling brighter already.