Managing the Burn Out

The other day was beautiful. Sunny, warm, robin blue skies. All day I had been inside working on my computer and organizing the shop while looking out at the warm, blue skies. BossMan (my new boss who hates being called a boss, so I’ll simply refer to him as “bossman”) was feeling as cooped up as I was, walking outside himself every few minutes to feel the warm sun on his skin.

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At three, while the sun trickled in through the front of the building and lit up the wood tables until they glowed like embers, BossMan and I stuff computers into bags and yank down the garage doors. We can’t stay inside anymore. As he heads off to a grueling road bike, I walk towards my car and try to make a decision.

All day my phone’s been vibrating, “Fishtop at 5:30”, “DuPont at 4:30? I brought my bike to work”. Thirty minutes later I was pulling into DuPont.

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This is a hard topic to tackle, to talk about honestly with you. I have so much ego wrapped up in kayaking, so much of my identity, career, and heart is rooted firmly in my ability to throw a boat on my shoulder and head down the trail. And I love kayaking, its taken me more places than anything else and has given me more focus than anything else. But on that day, in the warm beautiful sun, after not having kayaked in about 2 weeks, I didn’t choose kayaking. I went to DuPont.

This is the part no one wants to talk about. The part we pretend doesn’t happen, the part we uneasily tip toe around in conversations. The truth is, I don’t always have a burning desire to kayak. The truth is, sometimes I find myself simply managing the burn out. I burned out hard once before, to the point of selling my gear and not kayaking at all for a year. But I love kayaking. Kayaking has fulfilled me in a way nothing else can. What I learned from the initial burn out has helped me be able to identify the beginning of burnout and manage it.

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Its simply truth that whatever we love, if we do it for work as well as fun, our love will eventually burn out. Its how we manage that burnout that determines if we walk away forever or simply focus on other things for a while so we can return refreshed. There are some strategies we can take to manage the burnout while finding balance in our lives.

  • Try yoga. I always return to a morning practice of yoga when I feel burn out stating. Yoga reminds me to slow down and take care of my body. I also focus on my breathing a lot, which is helpful when I’m kayaking. Plus, it feels good.
  • Try a different sport. Lately I’ve been mountain biking a couple times a week. I find it gives me a similar physical rush to kayaking, it’s a little easier to fit in to a day of work, and the social group is just as good.
  • Remember its normal. Feeling a little burned out occasionally is a normal part of any passion. As soon as I start to feel a little less excited about kayaking in my free time I don’t panic, I try to ease up on it and let myself enjoy other activities for a while.

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Over the winter I spent maybe 4 days not on the water, so its not surprise that I am simply lacking the inspiration to rush to the river after work right now. I’m also not concerned by it, since kayaking is always going to be my true love. I know in a few weeks I’ll be back in the right headspace for kayaking and will have a hard time containing my excitement at the put in. But for now, I’ll let yoga and mountain biking work their magic.

Does burn out ever happen to you?

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