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#110 – Beyond Burnout & What it Meant to Step off the Path of Productivity
Why Burning Out Might Be the Best Thing to Ever Happen to Me (BIG Announcement at the end)
“So, I quit my job. But for good reason.
There's nothing I value more professionally than curiosity and the pursuit of creativity. Which is why I've decided to take a year off from my traditional 9-5 pursuits and focus on my creative efforts. This includes my work as a writer and storyteller.”
This is how I started a LinkedIn post two years ago to announce that I had left my marketing job in tech to dive more deeply into creativity. But, instead of doing that, I dove right into a part time freelance contract and an old writing project then as potential clients reached out, I took on a few one-off projects (the early days of my business, Ramsay & Co).
A few months later, I found myself sitting on my couch in my living room sobbing. I had client deadlines looming and no motivation to do anything. I was beyond tired. I was burnt out. I told you about this (not the crying part but the rest). And took you along for some of the journey as I faced the state of my work life and life life.
I dove deep into understanding what burnout was and what I needed to do to heal from it. I integrated rest into the ways I work and how I began to build the business I now run. And then I started to dabble with play, which I learned was an essential tool in creativity and neuroplasticity (as I was in the middle of trying to form newer, healthier habits around work). I struggled with play. It nearly kicked my ass before I figured out what it looked like for me (word games, bike riding, and reading fantasy and romance novels are among the heavy hitters if you’re curious). But on the other side of that struggle was a whole new life. A whole new way of being in the world. An entirely different perspective about the thing I've spent a lot of my life doing: work.
No exaggeration. I was thinking in new ways, I was managing my mood better and I was… (I’m afraid to even write it)…happier. (The lifelong cynic in me just cringed). And my business was thriving as a result. Because I had begun to live a life that felt more aligned.
I went on a HARD journey over the past two years (it’ll be two years next week since I left my job) in addition to surviving a pandemic with the rest of the world. There were a lot of highs and plenty of lows. Therapy, coaching, and friends who were on similar journeys all played a part in getting me to today. Where I write tweets like this and mean it (and feel a little guilty that I do).
Where I see memes about quiet quitting and shake my head and wish I could talk to those people. Where I see posts about grinding and hustling as the only way and get enraged.
I’m writing this particular not to you because I wanted to thank you all for joining me on that journey. For being open to hearing from me about my burnout experience and writing back to share some of your own. For helping me not feel alone in it. It was a huge part of what helped me move through it. It helped get me to the point where I can work a full workday without feeling utterly depleted. That I can get excited to create and write and do this work I love so much. Because that was the hardest part of burnout for me, not feeling motivated and driven in the ways I had been before burnout and for most of my life. And being afraid it wouldn’t come back.
While I’ve decoupled my sense of self-worth from my paycheque and job title, I still feel motivated and a sense of drive and inspiration to do well in work. It’s a part of who I am but not all of me.
I’m also writing because back in May a friend of mine who had left her job (at that same tech company) a few months before to rest and reset and reconnect with her creativity reached out to me. We’d been sources of support for each other, and I had been able to share what I had learned and the roadblocks I had come across as I went through my healing journey with her. She wanted us to get together and talk about how we might share even more of what we learned with others and build community in the process. To give more folks that feeling on the other side of rest, play, and creativity we have been able to access through this process.
We created a framework (because I can’t resist a good framework) and started considering ways we could bring it to life and share with others. Over the past few months I think I’ve hinted that I’m working on a project that I find deeply fulfilling and rewarding (on top of my already deeply fulfilling and rewarding brand storytelling consulting work!). Well today that project, our little post burnout baby is ready to be shared.
I’d love love love to introduce you to Re-Work and invite you to sign up to learn more over the next few weeks and join the community. We’re planning an IRL experience in Toronto and HOPE to also create more in other cities (more to come on that—sign up to be the first to know about it all as we create this community).
We’re trying to build the community we wish we’d had when we first started out on this path (around the time I was alone on my couch crying specifically) and would love for you to join. Read more here and sign up today.
If you sent me a note after reading my story of burnout, or if you wanted to but didn’t this is for you. If you are a creative entrepreneur or intrapreneur Re-Work is for you. If you’ve recognized you need to change the way you’re relating to work and productivity—if you’re seeking better alignment and less stress, this is for you. This isn’t just about burnout, though there will be resources for those who need it, this is about what life can look like beyond burnout and stress when you step off the path of productivity and into something more for yourself in work and life. I hope you’ll take a look and sign up to learn more.
Please please please share in the comments your thoughts and ideas on this one. I love hearing from you. And a quick note: while we will be sending you emails with more details and resources in the lead up to our launch Re-Work will NOT be a newsletter—it’s a movement and community. It’s something different and special and for you if you want it to be.
A Story Well Told
Have you ever read something or experienced something in your field of expertise that made you so jealous it made you question everything you’ve done with your life? So good it twisted your insides and made you see the thing you do and the world you live in through news eyes? Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin did that for me. I fell into the characters and their world in a way few books can achieve so completely. It was the best book of the summer and year for me. It’s a story about friendship and creative partnership in the world of making computer games. When I finished it, I wanted to start it again. I haven’t fully processed what about it made me love it, but I plan to read it again before the year is over to figure it out. I HIGHLY recommend you go out, buy this book (or get it from the library), and read it. Let me know if you have already or when you do—I’d love to know your thoughts.
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