What I’m Doing To Stop Repeat Burnout From Blocking My Goals

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5 min read
Photo by Ryan Snaadt on Unsplash

I thought I had a handle on burnout until I realized repeatedly going through it meant I wasn’t close to handling it.

I would slow down and take a break when burnout came around. I would recover and feel great for a bit. But it wasn’t long until burnout would creep up on me again.

Being able to recover quickly hid everything that burnout held me back on.

Going through repeat burnout was like constantly hitting a restart button.

It wasn’t until my longest stint of burnout I discovered how much it set me back.

I was close to achieving several goals that would go back to zero. I would lose any good habits I was forming.

I felt good that it never impacted my work in a significant way or wrecked my life.

But every instance of burnout killed the momentum.

I lost all momentum toward my goals and habits.

It was always like starting from scratch after I recovered. Writing daily would turn to not writing a word for weeks to months. Getting up early and exercising would turn into sleeping in way too long.

I can’t fathom how much further along I could be if I didn’t let burnout repeatedly block me.

I needed to change things to avoid going through burnout again.

All my solutions were around stopping burnout right then and there.

I never took the time to think of what was causing my burnout. Without thinking of what was causing it, I didn’t consider what I could change to avoid it in the future.

I needed to figure out what was causing my burnout.

I’ve run into burnout for many reasons.

Sometimes I worked too many hours. Or had a tight deadline coming up. Other times I had too many complex and stressful projects going on.

Now I needed to figure out why these causes were happening.

Why was I working too many hours? Why was I working on so many projects at once?

As a developer, I related this to the root cause analysis of bugs. Finding the root cause would let me think of how to stop the reason from coming up again.

I was working towards too many goals at once.

I had a long list of goals I was trying to achieve at once.

Here is a short list of goals I was trying to achieve at the same time over the past few years:

  • Move into an architect position and continue to grow my career

  • Grow my Twitter presence

  • Write consistently on Medium to gain followers

  • Start teaching and helping other developers outside of work

  • Grow my freelancing business

  • Start making my apps

  • Write a book

  • Start podcasting

  • Start creating courses

  • Write a newsletter

  • Become healthier

  • Make a video game

  • Be a good dad and husband.

This was way more than one too many.

It is no wonder why I keep experiencing burnout.

Trying to grow a freelancing business while working led to working too many hours and working on multiple complex projects. Throw on top of this trying to achieve all my other goals, and I don’t know how I had time to do anything.

Now I’m making the changes to keep burnout away.

The most significant change I’m making is limiting how many goals I work on simultaneously.

I’m not removing all of these goals. Many of these I still want to accomplish at some point.

I’m limiting myself to 3 goals at once, and the rest have to wait.

Now some of these goals will become things I may need to do forever.

I’m not going to become healthier then decide, “Well, I’m healthy. Now it’s time to stop exercising and go back to junk food all the time”. I don’t want to stop writing on Medium or tweeting randomly. I wouldn’t start a podcast and stop before I felt it achieved its purpose.

The difference is I will not try to start them all at once.

Each goal will need to be a habit before starting a new one.

I’m not going to try to start a podcast while building a writing habit. I will not attempt to create a course and a game simultaneously. I’ll get one goal far enough to where it can be stopped or is a habit before starting another.

I’ll look for ways to automate and be efficient for forever goals.

I already know things like writing become more manageable and quicker the more I do it.

Many of my dreams aren’t something I need to achieve on my own. I’ll continue looking for ways to make these goals easy to keep going forever. Maybe I buy software to automate processes or hire someone to help.

One final thing I’m doing to avoid burnout is saying no more often.

I will say no if it doesn’t help me hit my goals.

It might be saying no to clients or work. But most of the time, this is saying no to myself. Saying no to the things that may distract me from my current small set of goals.

I can’t guarantee this will help me avoid burnout, but I feel it is a step in the right direction. It’s the first time I’m working on changing what led to burnout instead of treating the symptoms of it.