Burn-out: don’t burn up, be on fire!

Burn-out. It seems to be a serious problem. Serious enough for Buitenhof (a Dutch news program with interviews, opinions and debate) to invite three renowned psychiatrists to help us understand this growing phenomenon. The program segment started with announcing it a ‘burn-out epidemic’. One of the psychiatrists, Witte Hoogdijk, made it sound like prolonged suffering is awaiting us: “There is a mismatch between the demands of society and our physiological response to it.” I’m not denying that our digitized lives are busy and that we perceive them as busier than ten or twenty years ago. And it is true that more and more twenty and thirty somethings are succumbing to the pressure. So how is it possible that as an active businesswoman I do not even feel a hint of burn-out? And that it also isn’t a big issue for the millennials in my business?

Maybe that sounds too good to be true, but I am so attuned to new developments and signals – for example an excess of stimuli – that I respond right away, in my personal life as well as in my company. So what do I do when I see a burn-out on the horizon?

I make more and more selective choices!

When you don’t make (selective) choices, you are not clearly deciding what it is that you really want from your life and work, and what you don’t. You’ll end up doing ‘everything’, trying to make everyone happy, and get exhausted by it. How can you experience progress or purpose, when you don’t have any direction? It is also really important to understand what you will have to sacrifice to get there. Because in the misconception that you can perform on all fronts, the burn-out is almost encased.

That is why I stimulate team members to be self reflective. Wherein lies your real strength? What is it that gives you that extra energy? By keeping that in mind, you are more aware of what you are doing and enjoying it more. And most important – the worrying about whether another place or another life is better for you – useless ruminations that increase your chances of a burn-out – won’t bother you anymore.

At this time I might have gotten so skilled at setting my direction, that I am experiencing the opposite of a burn-out, a bore-out. Everything is going exactly according to plan to the point where it is getting too easy and I am looking for new stimuli. The outcome?

Instead of burning up, I am burning with curiosity.