In January 2020, in the early days of the pandemic, I started what I thought was my dream job as a communication’s officer for a vegan non-profit organization in the Netherlands. It was a remote job, so I could easily combine my work with my love for travel and pet sitting. Best of all, I would be helping the animals by educating people about veganism. A subject very dear to my heart. I had started living vegan in August 2016 (another life changing event, but that is another story.) and even though I was working as a Health Coach promoting plant based eating at the time, I felt I wanted to do more. So the opportunity to work in such an organization, doing what I loved, was an opportunity I couldn’t pass. Unfortunately, the job wasn’t what I thought it would be and many things contributed to my severe burn-out in the summer of 2021.
Unraveling slowly but surely
The signs were there for a long time, but I had trouble listening to my own body and gut feelings. I had contemplated quitting when I was about 9 months into the job. I continued to consider the pros and cons and questioned my motivations and stamina. You see, I had a strong (and very wrong) inner critic who thought I was just weak and needed to try a little longer. I had short periods where I felt better, but the general unease and gripping anxiety stayed and continued to grow. Slowly, but very surely things spiraled out of control and by the end of spring I was no longer able to work. To be honest, I wasn’t able to do much of anything. Things needed to change, and drastically so.
Caring too much
How did I end up burned out? That was a question I kept asking myself during my process of healing. As I took the time to slow down and really listen to myself, gradually I came to see there were many ‘little’ things that turned into big things. To start with, my work was mentally taxing. In our society it is often difficult to talk about the use of non-human animals. There is a lot of resistance and sometimes anger towards the idea that we shouldn’t harm anyone when there is no need. There is a lot of misinformation about living vegan. It is no secret this constant ‘explaining’ can make an activist weary and worn out pretty quickly. You need a tough shield, but many activists are intensely caring people. I am no different. So I cared too much and it was very hard to watch the world continue to harm animals. I had no way of regulating all these feelings and oddly enough no help or support from within the organization. We were all so busy working ‘for the animals’ that we often forgot to care for our fellow humans.
Doing it all
Second, I was running a whole communications department on my own. I only had 3 colleagues who each had their own department and had no idea what I was really doing. I was relying on the help of volunteers who more often than not were unavailable or unqualified. I asked for help, but only when things got really intolerable. Many months had passed where I tried to do it all and not disappoint anyone. The thing is, I have many talents and am an extremely quick learner, but trying to do it all, is what got me in the end. Many months later, as I was starting to heal, I realized I did not need to be able to do it all. What I needed to do was make my life easier and delegate all the tasks I did not want to do or weren’t great at. This freed up so much time and gave me space to prioritize my tasks. By focusing on the tasks I was good at, I got quicker and better results.
Healing took a very long time for me. I stayed on for another 6 months to give myself the time to really discover if it was the job or me. In the end I decided the job just wasn’t for me. I couldn’t grow there and the organization couldn’t change the way I thought it needed to. We parted ways, and I had learned a very hard lesson. A lesson I don’t want you to learn the hard way, like I did.
Give yourself a break
I don’t want you to burn out and I am here to tell you you don’t have to. Give yourself a break and find a reliable assistant to take some of the burden. There is no shame in asking for help. Some things in your job may come natural to you and some don’t. You should focus on the first and let someone else take care of the latter.
Whether you are a writer, coach or activist, have you ever thought about how much easier life would be if you had a ‘figure-outer’ virtual assistant on your team? What if you are actually hurting your business by trying to do it all, not to mention your health? What if you are sabotaging your own growth potential? If you even just get 10 hours with a person who wants you to succeed and make your life easier, it is life changing. And all without having to go through a burnout like I did and so many of us who care and are trying to do it all.
I am telling you now, you don’t have to do it alone.
If you want to find out how I can make your life easier, book a free intro call today.