I know it’s a strange idea to think of the thing we try so hard to avoid, as a force that might help us. But over and over, in my work helping groups stop burnout and get re-energized, I’ve seen how burnout has helped people. It’s made them change. It’s clarified what’s important to them. It’s set them on a new course.
My past year has been full of activities surrounding the publication of my third book: “Joy Unleashed: The Story of Bella, the Unlikely Therapy Dog.” In fact, I’m speaking more now about the book than I am about burnout. At first I felt upset that my work had shifted. But now I see that my dog’s wonderful work comforting others, has deepened my understanding of why it’s so important to not let burnout eclipse our gifts. So, yes, burnout can be a friend, as long as it’s a friend you pay attention to. As long as you don’t get stuck.
Here are the key lessons I’ve learned about self-care from my energetic (that’s the nice word for “crazy”) working dog:
- Surprise yourself. Sit when you’d stand, stop when you’d go. Mix it up.
- Ask questions and the answers will come
- Small shifts lead to big changes
- Help comes from surprising places: a child, a dog, a stranger
- Pay attention
- Give thanks even when you don’t feel like it
- Grow in curiosity and giving back
- Travel light–see what you can get rid of and see how that makes you feel
- Cast off resentment–it just gets in the way
- Don’t be afraid of uncertainty or emptiness: wait, sing, a path will open.
Not bad lessons from a dog! Be brave and share your thoughts. That will help all of us have the best year ever.