Do your big career dreams feel like a distant memory?
Sick of struggling alone, feeling lost and overwhelmed, exhausted and just…done?
I get it, I’ve been there and I’m here to help
My name’s Leah and welcome to Searching for Serenity
What is burnout?
Burnout is a syndrome that develops from chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been successfully managed. In short; it means you care deeply and have given too much for too long. The good news is that it is reversible and you don’t have to keep struggling alone with it.
What about imposter syndrome?
This is the pervasive underlying belief that your achievements are not your own, that you don’t fit in and that, if people knew the real you, you would be asked to leave or ‘found out’. If you have ever felt like you are looking over your shoulder at work, denied that you were responsible for a big win and put it down to luck or felt ‘if only you knew who much I’m flying by the seat of my pants’ then you’ve experienced imposter syndrome.
Why do you focus on burnout, imposter syndrome AND stress and resilience. Shouldn’t you just do one thing?
I combine all of these things (together along with time management, stress management, how to manage people and about 100 other mini topics) because they are so interlinked. I have yet to meet someone struggling with burnout who isn’t also stressed (it’s there in the definition of burnout!) who couldn’t do with some help with resilience (resilience is the antidote to stress in many cases) and who hasn’t had thoughts of ‘I don’t fit in, I don’t belong here’.
Stress, resilience and imposter syndrome all play a part in burnout which forms the chronic end of the stress and overwork spectrum. Almost all of us fall somewhere along that spectrum and my goal is to provide the knowledge, training and support to prevent others from hurtling headlong into full on burnout, but you can read more about my story here
Burnout is different for everyone,
where do you want to go from here?
This isn’t a Pollyanna special and I have no intention of getting #soblessed whilst talking about topics that are typically A Bad Thing. No-one enjoys depression or burnout. It’s not a happy happy fun time with the Scooby Gang. So why am I grateful?
Toxic workplaces are a constant source of stress for almost all involved but they often don’t appear in the cartoonish fashion we have all come to expect from media representations and, well, articles just like this one.
We all have employment rights now and near-constant media examples of power gone awry so very few of us have to work for long under a screaming bully of a boss or keep a blow up mattress under the desk for the deadline periods (as one friend of mine did in his job!).
However, if you’re a generally resilient person who is beginning to feel the mild nausea and constant pressure then maybe you haven’t realised the impact of your environment, or just how toxic the place around you is.
Here are 10 signs you are working in a toxic environment.
When you say 'I can't do that' I can't help but smile.
Because I know that that's not what you mean.
You mean one of two things;
I’ve been prepared for battle since I was small.
I was always ready to fight my corner, to stand up for the people who couldn’t. Even when I was beaten and bruised I still got back up and tried to fight a new way.
It was the desperate need to fight for what was right that first led me to law. I was a child in the middle of a battlefield and the lawyers led the way out. Made sense from the chaos. Created peace where there had been none.
I instinctively knew I wanted to be one of them because these were people who fixed broken things, found solutions to problems my tiny brain had no clue how to solve.
Somehow I equated being able to solve a problem with being problem-free.
Prolific. It’s a word that terrifies me.
I laugh at people who refrain from using swear words, who say it’s unprofessional or uncouth.
‘It’s just a plain Anglo-Saxon term’ I snigger. ‘It’s just a word, don’t be so silly’
But the thought of being prolific terrifies me.
I’ve been reading this morning and getting so fired up, so ready to rock the entire professional world, that I immediately felt the need to shrink back down.
Up came the old beliefs and speeches, echoed back through my history
‘Who are you to do that’
‘Who do you think you are, you’re nobody’
‘You don’t deserve support, you don’t deserve protection, you don’t deserve love’
‘You’re nothing more than a child with an overactive imagination’
You know the ‘f’ word that terrifies me more than any use of the word ‘fuck’ could?
I feel like I need to preface this blog with the unfortunate truth that, even all these years into my burnout and imposter syndrome journey, life is not perfect. I’m not always on top of things. I’m not always healthy. I still often feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants but it’s more exhilarating than terrifying. Most of the time at least.
I’m sorry, I would love to give you the magic button solution but I’ve yet to become a charlatan.
So here’s the thing.
It is way too easy to get sucked in to a full-scale sulk, particularly after not feeling well. I might have been sliding in to one of them this afternoon; still feeling a bit tired after being down with a virus for the last couple of days but staring wild eyed at my to do list and everything that’s taken a slide in the last couple of weeks of madness (parents, you’re not alone in the summer-strife).
Sometimes everything conspired all at once and there are things on my to do list that I swear I only put there on Friday but have somehow been outstanding for weeks! Huh?
And then, I fell across this picture.
There are so many days when I feel like I have nothing of any import to say. When all the memories of my past mistakes come back to haunt me, when I feel like a fraud and a coward and a fool.
We all have this little inner voice; for some people I think that inner voice was born supportive and nice and encouraging. Those are the people who seem to have endless confidence and compassion, who push hard but not too hard and seem full of a warm, golden light.
For the rest of us, well that voice is a shithead of the highest order.
The plan was simple, wasn’t it?
The plan you made years ago. The one that involved studying and working, qualifying and practising. It had seemed so simple, so pure, like one of those luxury white marble top kitchens - all expansive space with perfect accent touches. Open. Clean. Relaxed. Ready.
Does your life feel like that marble topped kitchen now, all white and sparse and disinfected ready for use, that slight smell of Zoflora hanging in the air.
Or does it feel more like the cramped and filthy kitchen of a cat lady hoarder? Filled with tat and rubbish and things that are being saved for a rainy day or for best or for just in case?