To rest, to recover.
Last summer my overworking lead to burn-out, which spawned panic attacks – the strongest signal yet. Since then I’ve been hammering back “work” to a state where I can step away for a while. Work had got out of hand.
I built my business to allow me autonomy. I work mostly alone and everything I do is selected, optimised, effective. That’s what I tell myself. But even if I discount a half of my daily practice, (in case I am lying to myself), there still remains much good. I am not unhappy with how I have developed this path of mine. But I do want to pause. Even when things are good, we should rest.
When we build these vehicles, (businesses, careers, side-projects), we start out aiming for money or material wealth; for stability, to please a family member, or to prove something. If we’re lucky we see that these were shallow or base reasons, beyond which are truer motives that stand up more to rational rigour.
We re-actively “overfix” what has previously hurt most. Scar tissue is the default compass.
Course correction and containment is therefore essential. But it’s hard work. Society shouts at us through a gigantic megaphone – repeating; money is king, material wealth is the apex. Competition sits on one shoulder, ‘passion’ on the other, and these false gods do not let you remove your foot from the accelerator. They hunger for extremity, which leads to carnage.
But financial stability and autonomy are only one level in an infinite game. We must eat, but what then?
It’s clear: a tendency to overwork had snuck back into me. To avoid the emotion of tragic loss, I chased the logic of business and programming. To build up capital, to buy land, to save the world; I worked weekends. I bled business.
This worked, and it didn’t.
So now we’re going on a trip. A sabbatical. A mini-retirement.
I’m going to pay the overdue bill my body has been footing. I’m going to rest, to read, to rethink my machine. I’m not making plans, other than to build-in boundaries. I may come back the same. I may not. Either way, I’ll use this time as a reboot. I’m going to restructure, without any management consultants, and I’m going to come back stronger, smarter, and with poise.
It’s time to relax…
If you’re a solo-entrepreneur or you work in a small team, it’s your job to decide when is enough. We are our own judges, editors, and managers. A high standard can be a great thing, but with it must come a balancing sensibility, else we are all doomed to fizz into burned-out shells.
Commit to labour. Produce things you qualify as good, through effort you analyse as worthy.
And then rest, to iterate tomorrow.
Update from the road 19th August 2017: I’m realising this isn’t just burnout, but a transition to a new way of being. It’s painful. It’s birthing. Check the project page for updates.
You can follow along with my progress on recovering from burnout on my Burnout recovery project page, or join my newsletter.