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Why we do this - John Doherty - Issue #71


John Doherty

August 28 · Issue #71 · View online

Founder of and growth marketing/SEO consultant to enterprise sites. Speaker. They say I'm a Hufflepuff. ENTJ on caffeine. We'll help you find a marketing provider to work with.

Do you ever reach a point where you wonder why you are doing what you do at all?
I’m fairly active in a financial subreddit, and I see a lot of people saying “I’m just cutting back on my expenses and saving as much as I can because I hate my job and I can’t wait to retire early.”
I’ll be honest.
To me, that’s sad.
If you can avoid it, why go through life suffering and just putting up with something substandard?
In exactly one month, I will have been self-employed for three years. That’s crazy, and is the longest I have ever been at “one job”.
But every 3-6 months, I reach a point where I am tired and feeling burned out.
Maybe you hit this too.
This used to stress me out, and because it stressed me out I’d go further into work trying to force something.
Not anymore.
Now when burnout/overwhelm hits, I do three things:
  1. I look at my priorities to see what I can let go. Inevitably not everything I am doing needs to actually get done. We have to get good at saying no to things and admitting to ourselves that certain things just are not going to happen. For me for example, it’s learning JavaScript. Not going to happen.
  2. I get outside away from my computer and my phone. Maybe I go for a hike or a mountain bike ride, but I get out and get active.
  3. I connect with others or spend time alone, depending on how my life has been recently. If I’ve been a few weeks without meeting up with friends for a beer, then I know that I need that. If I’ve been out every night seeing friends, then I know that I need a relaxing night at home.
And finally, if you’re able to then take a few days off. Hopefully you’ve set up your business (or your job allows you to do this) so that you can step away for a couple of days (even just a long weekend) and reset.
If you can, go somewhere new. It is incredible to me how a change of scenery can get me a new perspective and refresh my soul quicker than staying around home.
It is during this time that I ask myself “Why am I even doing this? Why am I working so hard and stressing myself out?”
Sometimes the answer is that I need to work wiser and not harder. I need to be wise (leaning on and trusting others) and not smart (trying to do it all my own).
At the end I always come back to that I am working for myself because it gives me the chance to make a bigger impact in life than working for someone else’s company. Instead of going back to the “I work for myself because I am a bad employee” narrative (as true as it might be), I reorient myself to the positive of making a bigger impact.
That grounds me and shift my attitude.
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed or burned out?
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