With the holidays coming to a close, and the new year just around the corner, hopefully it is too soon to be thinking about ways to prevent burnout. At the same time, if 2022 did leave you a bit exhausted, such that the time you had off wasn’t nearly enough — and you’re looking to avoid a repeat in 2023, here are a few lies to avoid telling yourself.
Lie No. 1: That To Get Things Done, You Have To Do Them Yourself
This is a lie that I use to tell myself regularly. Along with the lie that it would take too long to show someone else how to do that “thing” as well as me so it was just easier to do it myself.
So I would refuse help and then get resentful because I was doing everything myself.
And because it is difficult to do everything yourself well, I would make a mistake — and when I made a mistake, I would blame it on the fact that it was because I had to do everything myself.
If this sounds a little too familiar, then I probably don’t have to explain how this vicious cycle led to my burnout.
Don’t be like me and buy into this lie.
The truth is that more can be done if knowledge and skills are shared. More can be accomplished if the load is distributed. And contrary to the notion that delegation is self-serving, depending on the task and project, it can actually be very generous to develop others.
Lie No. 2: That Rest Is Optional
This is a lie that I still wrestle with. It is so tempting to skimp on sleep so I can get more things done, whether work-related or not. Part of the lie is telling ourselves that we can “catch up on it later” or that we don’t need that much.
For those who are guilty of this lie like me, watch Matt Walker’s Ted Talk (and read his book) on “Why We Sleep.” I don’t want to spoil the eye-opening data he shares about how sleep affects our physical and mental health or the alleged productivity we try to accomplish by not sleeping.
For those skeptics out there, consider this: if you don’t dare let your computer or cellphone go without recharging, why do you let yourself run on empty?
Lie No. 3: That Work-Life Balance Exists
First, I hate this phrase. Full stop.
I hate it because it insinuates that there is a specific equation that is correct for everyone, a one-size-fits-all garment. I also hate that it insinuates that 50/50 is the goal, and if you don’t get it 50/50, then you’re not doing it right.
Lastly, I hate it because it reflects a false reality that work is outside of life, that it is so important that it has its own category against the rest of life, when in reality, work is just a part of it.
My preference is to use the terms work-life fit and work-life shift.
I like work-life fit because it accurately describes the phenomenon of fitting work into your life in a way that works for you, in that moment, in that season, and it isn’t a specific formula.
I like work-life shift because it reflects the reality that how work fits into my life shifts constantly. It changes all the time. And just as I feel like I have a rhythm between being a mom and a lawyer, that I have a workable schedule, inevitably something changes or pops up, and I have to shift and rework the fit.
It could be as small of a shift as having to travel unexpectedly for work. It could be as large of a shift as having an infant again.
Instead of buying into the lie that work-life balance exists and wasting precious time and energy into trying to chase something that doesn’t exist or, worse, thinking that something is wrong with you because you can’t achieve that 50/50 balance, don’t.
Instead of trying to create a perfect plan or formula to “optimize” your life, which is exhausting — don’t.
Conserve that precious energy and space in your brain so that you can shift into what works for that moment, that day, that season.
Now that you know what these three lies that lead to burnout are, hopefully you can avoid them, giving yourself back some space and grace in 2023.
Meyling “Mey” Ly Ortiz is in-house at Toyota Motor North America. Her passions include mentoring, championing belonging, and a personal blog: TheMeybe.com. At home, you can find her doing her best to be a “fun” mom to a toddler and preschooler and chasing her best self on her Peloton. You can follow her on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/meybe/). And you knew this was coming: her opinions are hers alone.