How i found my way back from burnout hell
Updated: Apr 18, 2022
Hello friends, I know it has been a while. I do apologize for my extended break. However, I am been doing exactly what I said I would in my last post, I have been taking care of me. It has been a long slog. I have had to reassess and re frame. I have had to evaluate everything in my life, reorganize and focus. It has been quite a journey, one that I am still taking. However, I think I am almost there, though I hesitate to say that too loudly. As we all know, the best way to get God's attention is to think you have everything under control. As the Yiddish proverb says, "Man plans and God Laughs".
So what exactly have I been doing? How have I been coping with my serious FOMO while finding balance? It has been a multi step process. Once I started to get some rest, it was time to dig deep and find a way to address my constant frustration with my life. I was feeling deprived and unfulfilled because all I did was work. There was no time to do anything else. I was building a business, trying to run another one, working full time and spending 9 hours a week at the barn. I was so frustrated with my lack of time that I wasn't appreciating the things that I did get to do like connecting with my spouse, hanging with my kids or cuddling with my cats. My first step was to change my perception.
I began by writing down all the things that I had accomplished in the last few years. The list was very, very long. It helped me realize that I am actually living a pretty amazing life. By simply focusing on what I have done instead of what I wasn't doing, I stopped beating myself up and started celebrating myself. I am actually pretty darn badass!
Next, I looked at what was under that constant need to do. I realized that was linked to the breakup of my marriage. For 23 years I had put everything I had into it. I did everything I could think of to keep my husband happy. I gave up everything including myself. In the end, it wasn't enough and he was repeatedly unfaithful. I had spent 23 years "doing" in a desperate attempt to hold on to my life and I realized I was still doing that. Deeply seeded in my lizard brain was the belief that if I didn't keep doing all the "right" things, my life would once again be yanked out from under me.
Overcoming that kind of compulsion is not an easy thing. Especially when it is so closely linked with survival. I had to develop a new awareness. Every time I started to feel that compulsion, I had to consciously remind myself that if I didn't get that thing on my to do list done, the world wasn't going to end. I regularly had to remind myself that I was safe and my future was secure. Each time I would become a little more relaxed. Little my little my irrational need to do has eased. I can now leave things undone. Every once in a while, a little panic can start to creep up on me and I have to stop and remind myself that doom is not imminent. However for the most part, the compulsion is gone.
The next thing I needed to tackle was my horrible fear of missing out (FOMO). I had spent so many years living someone else's life that I desperately wanted to live MY life. I wanted to do ALL the things, yoga, read, knit, meditate, journal, etc, etc. Plus I knew that I still had to feed my businesses. I HAD to find a way to fit it all in. While I was stewing, trying to find solution, I had a colleague mention micro steps. I was intrigued, what was this sorcery called micro steps?
Turns out micro steps is exactly what it sounds like. Taking tiny, little steps forward. The concept is simple. A step forward is a step forward no matter how small. As long as you take a step forward, you are accomplishing something. You take your tiny step forward, congratulate yourself and move on to the next thing. As long as you are consistent, you eventually achieve your goal. The key is to celebrate your micro step and recognize that you are in fact moving forward. This simple concept has transformed my entire life.
I now micro step EVERTHING I want to do. For example, for years I have wanted to do yoga to start my day. But there was no time to do a 20 minute yoga routine every morning. However, I did have 5 min, so every morning I do Salutation to Sun but just the A part of the routine. Yoga every morning? Check! I have always wanted a regular meditation practice, but didn't have 20 min to do it. Now I meditate every morning for 2 to 5 min. In fact, with micro steps I now have the following routine:
5 min of yoga
2 min of mediation
2 min of journaling
2 min of reading (I have completed two books reading a few pages at a time)
1 min of affirmations
1 min of gratitude
15 - 20 min of daily planning/brain dump
In 45 min or less, I am able to get everything done. All I had to do was get up 30 minutes earlier and I had my dream morning. This has become MY time and it feels absolutely decadent. However, my micro stepping doesn't stop there. I always wanted to learn how to knit. So I joined a knitting group at work. I now knit for one hour once a week. When I have a few minutes here or there during the day, I will pick up my needles and knit a row. Just one. I have completed 5 knitting projects this way.
The micro stepping is a part of my businesses too. For instance, this blog article has been written a few minutes at a time over a week. My website is getting updated a few minutes at a time. Bit by bit I am accomplishing what I want to get accomplished and reaching my goals. Is it taking longer than I would like, definitely. But it IS getting done. I focus on that and I let go of the fact that it has to happen slowly rather than all at once. Micro stepping allows me to continue to get the rest I need, spend time with those that matter and enjoy what I am doing instead of beating myself up about what I am not getting done. I no longer get frustrated, I no longer suffer from FOMO and I no longer drive myself into the ground.
However, that isn't all that micro stepping has done for me. I am finding that giving myself permission to pick away at things has empowered me to get really creative and find new ways to be productive. For example, I have always wanted to learn Spanish, but didn't think I had the time. Guess what? I have 5 min when I eat my breakfast. I downloaded the Duolingo app, it allows you to set up a daily 5 min practice schedule. Now I am learning Spanish, "Yo soy una mujer". There is almost nothing that I can't use micro stepping with. This has opened up a whole new world for me.
Does that mean that I have filled every spare moment of my day with a micro steps? No, I still have to prioritize and focus on what really matters. I still need to make sure that I am getting enough rest and that I have down time when I don't do anything. It still means I have to say no to things. However, I no longer feel like all I do is work and I no longer feel deprived. My life feels full, it feels like it belongs to me and I feel like I am accomplishing things. Yaaayyyy me!
As life changing as micro stepping has been, it isn't the only tool that I used to regain control of my life. Taking the time to reflect and put together a plan for the day has also been instrumental. It is the second key piece to the puzzle and it is the topic for my next blog post, How Daily Planning Gave me Back my Life. Until that comes out, try micro stepping. I hope it transforms your life as much as it has mine.
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