Q: OK, now I have a sense of where I got off track with my career and how I got burnt out. What steps can I take to get things moving in a positive direction?
In the last issue, we covered how you got to this point. To recap: Burnout is typically caused by an imbalance in one of three basic areas—mind, body, or spirit—or a combination of them. We learned that you stand a better chance of addressing your specific issues if you take the time to analyze why you’re feeling a loss of passion and enthusiasm.
Now, how to fix the problem: Remedies for burnout are as varied as the causes. While there are no sure-fire answers or guaranteed solutions, there are a number of things that can help you break the cycle of feeling “disconnected” from your career. The strategies below can help you get “unstuck” when the problem isn’t of drastic proportions, such as clinical depression or a serious chemical imbalance.
Learn in a group. Sign up for a class in … well, anything. Start with a one-shot cooking class offered through your public school system, or go on a weeklong learning adventure. The creative mind especially needs the stimulation that comes from new experiences. Make a goal to take a class or attend a workshop every quarter. The topic doesn’t matter as much as stretching your mind does.
Learn one on one. Many young people, when they’re just starting out, set up “informational inter-views” with seasoned professionals to seek advice and gain insight into the design business. This can also work for those with more experience. Pick peo-ple you admire, invite them to lunch, and ask about their life experiences. It’s amazing what can come out of a candid conversation. Similarly, hiring a life coach might provide just the perspective you need.
Teach. Teaching is an energizing activity. Whether you’re working part-time for a college or giving a talk to other designers, sharing your knowledge can often be as rewarding for you as it is for others. (See my article “Create New Opportunities by Getting Out on the Stump,” in the Jan/Feb 2005 issue of STEP inside design for advice on public speaking.)
Embark on a physical challenge. An extreme example is a marathon or triathlon, but you don’t have to go that far to reap the benefits of setting and achieving a physical goal. Take a class in a new sport or join a team or league to get up and moving.
Change how you eat. Pick a healthy way to alter your eating habits and try it consistently for two weeks. Fourteen days without any sugar or caffeine, or two weeks as a vegetarian might convince you to look at nutrition differently. And whatever changes you make, drink more water; many people who suffer from fatigue are simply dehydrated.
Get “in touch.” Massage, healing touch, acupuncture, etc. There are many high-touch healing arts and all have their proponents. Trying one—or better yet, a variety—may bring surprising results. There is in fact a mind/body connection, and it is often activated by the touch of a human hand.
Consult an expert. Seek the advice of profession-als who help others perform at their physical best: nutritionists, personal trainers, holistic healers. These and others can help you explore new ways of thinking … and feeling. While you’re at it, pay a visit to your family practitioner for a full physical.