When you’re passionate about what you do, you can put a lot of yourself into your work. Even more, if you’ve embarked on this work because of a life changing experience, the work can feel more important than anything else in your life.
I know how vital this work is and how helpful you are to the people you serve. I know! But I want you to think about this: It’s important to be inspired by your work, but not consumed by it. It’s important to engage authentically in what you do, but not become your work. That’s a fast track to burnout.
I really don’t want you to walk away from this work because you’re wrung out.
So – let’s do a quick assessment to see if you’ve gotten “too personal” about your work.
- Is every waking moment devoted to this work? If you find yourself working uncountable hours and then talking to people about your work for the rest of your waking hours, you just might be consumed. I do acknowledge that this level of focus and time can be important when you’re in start-up phase, but it is certainly not sustainable. I felt this myself recently. I had worked for the first half of the week seeing clients, writing strategic plans, and getting podcast episodes ready for air. You know, work… but in a compressed timeframe. Then, I went “away” to a conference that was focused on the same things. The activities were all day and then I would hang out with my fellow attendees and continue to talk about work late into the evening. I had no down time and was burning the candle at both ends. I grant you that this was very time limited, but I felt the exhaustion and burnout knocking on my door the first day back home. To combat this, I had to take a day of total rest, followed by a slower week with downtime and other things to focus on (like gardening, family, and friends). I’m really glad that you like what you do – just make sure you have other interests too!
- Are you putting all of yourself in your marketing and branding? When you’re a heart-driven visionary and helping professional, you are your brand. People need to know what it is like to work with you. They need to know what you’re putting out into the world. They need to know YOU. But how much of you? Unless you are a celebrity with tons of paparazzi, there are boundaries you can easily set on what you share. Your audience doesn’t need to know all of you, they need to know the professional you, in a personal way. Personal branding doesn’t need to mean opening up your chest and bleeding out all of your personal information. You can decide where you hold the line related to self-disclose. You can decide how much of your own stuff you want to share. Now, there’s a lot I can say about this (and actually I’ll be talking about this in great depth at an upcoming workshop). But for today’s purposes, let me quickly sum up: it’s important to identify what you feel safe sharing, what you think will be helpful and relevant to potential clients, and what will be beneficial to developing an authentic professional relationship with the people you serve. Sharing more than that can be confusing, unsettling, or distracting.
- Have you become emotionally invested in every interaction? I don’t believe there’s a hard line between business and personal. That old adage just doesn’t ring true for me. I am personally invested in my clients, colleagues and team members. I freely give energy and care to all who I work with. Where I draw the line (and where I see people often stumble) is in taking the decisions of others personally. I will assess important decisions others make to see what they might mean for me or my business, but I really work to keep my feelings out of the equation when someone chooses not to work with me or opts out of my newsletter list, for example. This isn’t easy. Like it is for me, I’m sure this work is deeply personal to you. It can be hard to separate out “rejection” of your services from rejection of YOU. But they are separate. You are more than your work. People can like you just fine and not want to get your email in their inboxes.
There are so many benefits to having work that you feel personally invested in. I don’t want to dissuade you from that. My hope is that you take away this idea: your work is super important and needs your attention, but it does not define you. You can keep pieces of yourself separate. You can make your impact on the world, without sacrificing yourself in the process.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, I’d really like to chat with you. Let’s explore how you can continue doing the good work, without having it consume you. You can schedule time to talk here.