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Battling Burnout: 3 Steps To Beat The Burn
We’re men. We conquer… it’s what we do. If you’re anything like me, you feel like you’re just not doing anything if you’re not doing fifty million things at once. Again, it’s what we do–––and it’s been this way for centuries.
Why do we do it? We certainly don’t do it to get closer to God. The world say that the busier you are, the more accomplished you are. #LIESLIESLIES
As my good friend and former college professor Dr. Joe J. Eassa Jr. might say, that dog just won’t hunt.
And as my good friend Dr. Joe J. Eassa Jr. (and yes, that is a picture of him from the mid-1960′s… wow!) might say again, I’ll step to the front of the line on this one.
[Editor's note: I hope when I'm 75 that I also have eleven catchphrases that I can use over-and-over-and-over...]
We think that if we overburden ourselves with loads of extemporaneous tasks that we’ll get a gold star… or at least some affection (or pity) from others. “Oh wow! How can you be so busy? You’re time management skills must be incredible. You’re so awesome…”
As such, we go-and-go-and-go-and-go until we can’t go anymore. It’s more valiant to die trying that to have never tried at all. That’s not true. Furthermore, when we burnout our value lessens to the point of little-to-nothing. It’s not worth it. We’re no good if we’re dead or lying in a heap of garbage. Productivity and efficiency cease to matter when we can’t even uphold our daily functions.
How do we beat the burn?
1. Stop The Burn.
It seems easy enough… just stop what you’re doing. So often, we forget this. With work or classes or kids or fifteen million other things going on, you need to learn to stop and “be.” Stress is equal to the amount of pressure you apply onto yourself. Let’s flashback to my college career:
I was the king of busy. Classes, plus lacrosse, plus team bible study (and a regular study), plus one (sometimes two) internships, plus a part-time job, plus Student Government and various other extracurricular affairs. Not to mention a social life. I loved it. It made me feel good, because when everything was going well, I seemed in control. But when everything collided at once (papers due, clashing meetings, and so on), I would simply cry out to God and said HELP ME MAN IN THE CLOUDSSS.
It doesn’t work.
In his recent book, Weird (great book), author Craig Groeschel introduced the idea of 25/8. Imagine if God gave you an extra hour of the day, or better yet, another day entirely! How would you use it? Would you squeeze in more time to read the Bible, or pray? Probably not. He says, “The answer isn’t more time but a greater awareness of the time we have.”
God wants your full attention. The devil will do everything in his power to keep you busy. How often do you think I had a real quiet time with the Lord going through all of that mess in college? It was rare. We need to relent our desires to control the world and let God do all of the heavy lifting.
2. Assess The Burn
Once you’ve stopped, you need to assess the burn. It’s easy to pull yourself out of the situation for an hour, or a day (on a weekend, preferably), but you can’t pull yourself out entirely–––that’s practically a burnout in itself. You need to assess where you can permanently pull back. Let’s flashback again:
During my junior year, I had an opportunity to work for the best probate litigation firm in South Florida. I was hired following a quick interview, and given nearly $18/hour to push papers. WHAT. They should’ve paid me in bars of gold, because that’s what it felt like. With a girlfriend at the time, I felt like “the man.” I was making great money, going out to great dinners, and looking good… on the outside. Internally, I was a wreck. The job was extremely intense and very high-pressure. After adding in midterms, our fall lacrosse season, that girlfriend again, and other randomness, I was mentally shot.
I left. I gave up a comfortable, Mercedes-driven remainder of my college career for the ability to breathe. I don’t regret it. A week or two later, I landed at a smaller employment law firm a few blocks away. Sure, I wasn’t on the top floor of an office building with a perfect ocean view, and the pay wasn’t as nice, but I had peace of mind. I knew that God had me. His way is perfect. That job ended up being perfect… and my short time at the probate firm even helped me get an internship at UBS Financial later on.
Pulling back can only pay dividends. Matthew 7:13 says:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”
Killing yourself through busyness is the standard; let’s start a new standard. Find three things that you can cut out, today. Give yourself one week to cut those three things… and then move on completely.
3. Divert The Burn.
Dave Ramsey tweeted this yesterday: You cant burn out if you were never on fire! Bring it baby! Game on!
True. True. True. Double-true.
After cutting those three non-essentials, you’ll free yourself up to divert that fire to other areas. Reading. Prayer. Being with the Lord. With a little elbow room in your life, you have the flexibility to tackle the greatness God has placed in front of you with vigor.
We can certainly dream about if we had an extra hour or day, but why can’t we make it? Make a stand to say that from 6:00-7:00am, you will be with God and God alone. Decide that for twenty minutes you’ll further yourself through reading a book or listening to a podcast. As men we are hard-wired to strive and conquer; let’s focus that energy on the ways of the kingdom (Colossians 3:2; Romans 8:5).
How will you make an effort to undercut burnout?
[Photos: Ben Watts (cover), music2work2]
About Jayson SchmidtFounder of the Quarterlife movement. Building an empire for the glory of God and living my dream to make the name of Jesus famous. Get at me on Twitter (@JaysonSchmidt).
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Verse of the Week
––1 Thessalonians 5:21 (ESV)