Health + wellbeing

Burnout: Why I was forced to awaken my inner hippy

- November 3, 2014 2 MIN READ

If you’re working way too hard right now, please, read my story on burnout. It could save your life.

Like many busy business owners, I ignored the signs of burnout.

When people were telling me I hadn’t had a holiday in over five years, I chose to sidestep it.

When I had a nominal mental burnout I took steps to work around it.

Burst appendix? “Only a flesh-wound”, as the Black Knight in Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” would say. Torn cartilage in the throat and destruction of the vocal cords? “Tis but a scratch, Sire.”

The heart attack was inevitable

When the heart attack came, I did not visit the doctor until four months afterward, because I was too busy; even then, it wasn’t the first time that I took my laptop to the doctor’s so that I could get some work done in the waiting room.

Being told that I could be dead within that same day, perhaps within moments, wasn’t a message that I wanted to hear. I was in my early thirties and my daughter had only just started school. She certainly wasn’t big enough to lose her daddy. (This brave little girl had already learned to lip-read when I tore my vocal cords, as she was only three years old and couldn’t read handwritten notes.)

Death was not an option: I was too busy to take a dirt nap. Okay, how do we fix this?

Want more articles like this? Check out the work life balance section.

Fun mode and inner ‘hippiness’

Plunging into my work was easy, plunging into life and tapping into my inner hippy was much harder. There is a world of difference between taking a short break from work, and actually experiencing a recreation (“re-creation”) vacation.

In order to survive and thrive, I had to not only think outside the box, I had to act outside the box.

I rode a roller coaster for the first time in 18 years. I went dancing for the first time in over 16 years. I learned to sing and learned how to laugh. I learned how to set aside the analytical left side of my brain to become a man in his right mind. I meditated, went fishing and watched cartoons. I read fiction books for the first time in decades. I went sky-diving and I just plain old HAD FUN.

Don’t be fooled, having fun can be hard.

The transition to living life in “fun mode” was tough! Imagine it the other way around. Imagine a person who lives a balanced life suddenly working 70 hours a week for over five years without a break.  Shifting gears in both directions has its challenges.

But for me, if I didn’t completely transform my thoughts and actions I would have died. It’s amazing what a little motivation will do. Now that I’m a “Hippitalist” I’m more joyful and balanced.  If you’re working way too hard right now, consider what actions you could take to downsize expenses, outsource admin tasks, upscale profits or work smarter, not harder.

Have you had to change the way you work for burnout or any reason?