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I’ve had my shit together since I was a kid. I fully believed that to live the best life, your poop had to be in a group, and probably definitely color coded. So I filled my life up with ways of being better—with the ultimate goal of being the best if it was at all possible. I had good grades. I got accepted into a competitive program in college. Applied and received increasingly better-paying jobs. I had never been unemployed for longer than the weekend between me leaving one company for another. You name it.
Having my shit together also meant that I could never not-have-it-together. It produced one hell of a control freak, and my panic didn’t give a shit about how well I could control my life. I also spent most of my day thinking about figuring it all out—school, work, gym, social life. I remember being so high-strung about my class and work schedules, I'd lycanthropy into a dangerous animal during the exam period—highlighters, sticky-notes, silent screams and a face full of tears, oh my! I planned out how much money to put away to pay off my debt. I figured out my travel plans for three years in advance. Ironically, taking real vacations was somewhat of a myth, because I had on-top-of-everything. So I was rarely present enough during them.
What to do when having your shit together is burning you out:
1. Notice that you’re over having it all figured out.
You’re calling it burnout, but it feels like hell-fire. Looking at your schedule every morning is starting to look like a list of things you’d instead not do. It’s almost as if you’re on autopilot every day for the last how-ever-many months, and now? You’re not crossing things off, your canceling plans, and half-assing even your favorite parts of the day. There’s nothing wrong with what’s going on here, just notice that it’s happening.
2. Stop condemning yourself for your poop not being in a group.
While you may have had it seamlessly together up until this point, the past isn’t right now. And right now, you’re pissed off at yourself and everyone else. Getting a grip may even feel overwhelming, but here’s a chance. Stop pushing yourself through it and bringing yourself to a nervous breakdown. Compassion is always vital in lessening anxious grips on our motivation. What you resist, persists. It’s a rule I remind myself daily. It alludes to a bit of Murphy’s law of not having your shit together. When one thing goes array, something else will too. Maybe you didn’t separate the like colors in the laundry, then you forgot to return a library book on time, and for fuck sakes, your boss needed that report an hour ago. You are human, no sense in beating yourself up about the fuckery that’s already happened.
3. Lean into the chaos, and do it anyway.
This is your chance to lean in and clean it up. Communicate that your shit's not together with anyone who’s affected by it. You will sort the laundry, you will pay the fine, and you will get that report finished. Most of the anxiety that we feel isn’t from the fear of fucking up. It’s from fear of having to clean up what we’ve already fucked up. Being burned out caused this.
4. Enjoy this pause.
You lost motivation. Anxiety took over most of your internal dialog. Maybe you even fucked up some important things. Your life has flipped you the bird all because you let yourself get to the burn out that paved the way for these things to unfold. You’ve noticed where you are, stopped beating yourself up about it and communicated to those impacted by it. Now it’s your time to enjoy the deliberate break life has brought you. Do some yoga, write a fear inventory, get on a coaching call, whatever you need to support you here is available to you. Your only responsibility here is to ensure you’re getting what you need to powerfully move through it.
We’re not always going to be bright and shiny. Sometimes we’re chaotic and messy. All of it is perfect. Be generous and compassionate with yourself, and trust that it will all work out!