I Spent Three Years in a State of Constant Burnout – Here’s What I Did Wrong

January 7, 2022

Head-shaking mistakes from a freelancer who ignored every sign of burnout.

Taking three years to admit I was burned out was my first mistake.

But discovering why took longer, and in the process I learned new tools I could use to release some of the pressure freelancing exerted on my life. One of those tools was the post-mortem – objectively viewing what went wrong.

So let’s do a post-mortem on my burnout shall we?

Mistake #1 – Saying Yes to Everything

I am a people-pleaser to the bone.

There isn’t a project I won’t give the old college try or a situation I won’t try to fix. But saying yes to everything, in fear of letting others down, led to letting myself down.

As the tasks piled up on my list, I had to admit I couldn’t do them all and started saying no (or at least, not now.)

Mistake #2 – Confusing self-care with self soothing

“But I totally watched Netflix last night while having a bubble bath!”

Self soothing is often mistake for self care. The former, while attractive, doesn’t actually help with burnout.

True self care looks like work. Eating healthy, exercising, setting boundaries. And they’re much harder than hitting play on your next binge-worthy show.

Mistake #3 – Never Asking for Help

“I’ll just do this myself, it’ll be faster anyway.”

If there were awards for playing the martyr I’d probably win. I convinced myself that if I needed help, I was weak, and if I asked for help it either wouldn’t come or wouldn’t be what I needed.

But asking for help and letting go of things from my list was a huge step towards bringing me back to normal.

Don’t Wait Three Years

You probably read about burnout all the time, but recognizing it in yourself and heeding the warning signs is a skill that needs to be developed.

But you can start by avoiding the mistakes I made.

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