I have to admit that I’ve felt overwhelmed by the flurry of goal-setting blog posts, announcements, and what have you as we’ve begun the new year. In fact, I’ve entered the new year in a bit of burnout.
Over the last couple of days, I’ve realized why.
I am in a season of needing to reflect on what I’ve accomplished over the past couple of years — to really take it in, acknowledge it, and absorb it a bit before I can move forward into a new season of envisioning fresh goals and horizons for myself.
And when I’m in a “reflective, introspective” season of my life, it can be difficult to rub up against a lot of “doing” energy. The energy doesn’t match my quieter, “being” energy, and it can also trigger quite a bit of “compare and despair” in me (“I should be doing more,” “I’ll never get to where he/she is,” etc.).
Back when I went through life coach training, my mentor Martha Beck often shared these words from The Buddha with us: “Just as you can tell it’s the ocean because it tastes of salt, you know it’s enlightenment because it tastes of freedom.”
My truth, my piece of enlightenment, for the moment, is that I’ve reached the top of my personal mountain and I need to sit here on a rock and take in the view.
And I realize, too, that I in fact needed to sit down and take in the view quite a while ago.
But I didn’t let myself.
I kept on pushing and goal-setting — even though I know all too well that “push” energy is not effective for me either in the short or long run — and now I am tired.
When we climb a mountain, we need to acknowledge it when we get to the top. We need to appreciate the gorgeousness of the view we’ve got from here. We need to acknowledge and integrate what we learned on the way up, at least for a while, before we start climbing again.
What we don’t need to do is immediately scan the landscape for an even higher mountain and decide it’s time to climb that one — right now. This is the way we get into burnout. This is the way we lose touch with ourselves, with our own inner compass which is specific to our journey, and not anyone else’s.
We live in a culture that believes busy is good. Doing is good. More goals, and pushing, and striving, are good.
I think goals are terrific, and necessary — but we are not always in “goal-setting season.” Sometimes we’re in “view-appreciating season.”
Here are some signs that we may not be in our personal “goal-setting season” and in fact may need to shift into our version of “view-appreciating.”
* The thought of doing anything “big” creates a feeling of instant exhaustion.
* We’re having trouble concentrating for more than a few minutes at a time.
* We notice that our “social self” — the self that cares a lot about what other people think — is chattering so much that our essential self is having a hard time getting a word in edgewise.
* We take lots of actions but they don’t seem to have much resonance for us. They don’t feel good or satisfying.
So, how can we appreciate (and really take in) the view we’ve arrived at?
* Think back on the accomplishments that truly pleased or delighted you that got you to where you are. Write them down or share them with someone. Writing them down and/or sharing them makes them more real. (And notice any tendency in yourself to downplay your accomplishments or compare them to someone else’s. This, too, contributes to burnout!)
* Commit to crossing the non-essentials off your to-do list for an entire week, or a month, or however long feels good to you.
* Acknowledge the person you were before you climbed this mountain, and notice the differences in yourself now that you’re at the top. Is there anything you let go of on the way up? A part of you? A job? A lifestyle? A way of being or doing? It’s important to acknowledge how we’ve changed so we can move forward from who we are now, not who we used to be!
* What are the “shoulds” that have been coming up for you? Are they based on what you really want — given who you are now — or are they based on the person you were before you reached the top of this mountain?
Are you at the top of your personal mountain? If you’ve been on a journey, have you really acknowledged what you’ve accomplished and let it sink in? I’d love to hear from you.