How Burnout Helped Me Discover My Purpose

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

Stress, overwhelm and burnout. If you’re here, you’re likely in the thick of it.

You're a Do-er: people count on you to get things done.

As a Do-er myself, I have always been an empathetic and highly-principled powerhouse with an (unhealthy) need for perfection. It was my M.O. to bend over backwards and fix everyone’s problems (whether they ask for my help or not) while juggling 18 projects of my own. Fiercely independent, I was so used to tackling everything myself (if you want it done right…), and I had more or less achieved success in all areas of life (mind you, you’ll be hard pressed to find a white-picket fence and a wedding ring in this story).

In my youth I was top of my class, involved in every school club you could imagine. I volunteered in my community, played competitive sports and had a fulfilling social and dating life. In my 20's I climbed the career ladder, skipping every other rung straight to the top. Hard work, high performance and a bustling social calendar defined my life at a young age. Burning the candle at both ends was my specialty.

I was barely 20 years old when I experienced my first burnout.

I was a full time Business student with a 4.0GPA, playing competitive soccer, working three part time jobs, and rocking a pretty wild social life. Naturally, I crashed and burned. Hard.

In a single day I was fired from one job, gave my notice to the second, and requested stress leave from the third. So I slowed down for a week or two, "recovered", and got right back on the proverbial treadmill of life.

I was a problem-solver, an always-moving-forward, never-looking-back kind of gal.

Busy was a badge to wear with pride.

But it wasn’t long before I was running on empty again. I repeated the cycle because I wasn’t learning the lesson; I was simply surviving it.

I would skim through self help books until I got the gist of the content, riding the high of my new-found expertise for approximately 5 days before reverting back to baseline programming (no one actually does the activities in those books, do they?).

Flash forward to my mid 30's. I was putting in 60+ hours a week while raising a daughter on my own in one of the most unaffordable cities in the world.

I was surfing a heavy wave of burnout, pushing myself for productivity in an arena that was drowning my soul.

As I fought relentlessly to break the surface, to achieve success, to fix all the problems (even those that weren’t mine to fix), my mental health took a nosedive, my dearest relationships crumbled, and I was failing in my role as Mom.

All the 'doing' got me nowhere, and it finally clicked:

Hard work and productivity is a fallacy if your heart is not aligned with where your energy is flowing.

So I tapped out. I slowed down. I paid attention to my intention.

I meditated, painted, and wrote poems. In-between downward dogs and inversions, I slept (a lot). I danced ecstatically and read heaps of books just for fun. I embraced vulnerability, asked for help - and actually accepted said help. I organized my home space, simplified my digital world, and dissolved my mental clutter so I could finally breathe.

To put it simply, I quit doing and started being.