Sustain issue #30 (Get Sustain in your inbox next Thursday)
Happy Halloween week!
I just finished reading Olympian and filmmaker Alexi Pappas’ book Bravey. Alexi is a really fascinating person who’s battled mental illness, competed in the Olympics, and made movies.
Today I wanted to share what I thought was one of the biggest parallels between Alexi’s Olympic training and coming back from burnout.
It’s what I’ll call the Very Scary Rule of Burnout. (Halloween, get it?!?!)
The rule of thirds for doing something tough
Alexi’s Olympic coach shared with her, after a particularly tough training day, what he calls The Rule of Thirds. The rule is simple. When you’re training or trying to accomplish something difficult, about a third of the time it’s going to go well, a third of the time is going to be ok, and a third of the time it’s going to be crappy.
It’s a very scary rule since we expect to change quickly and execute perfectly the first time. We expect to hustle and hack our way out of burnout. In reality, this rule is quite freeing since it better mirrors reality. Beating burnout happens slowly and imperfectly just like training for the Olympics. For me, it was two years of good, ok, and, crappy to kick burnout.
Ease up on yourself
Think about it. If elite athletes training for the pinnacle of their sport are expected to be good only one third of the time, why are we holding ourselves to such a high standard when it comes to beating burnout? We need to give ourselves space and acceptance to fail.
Have some empathy for yourself. Training for the Olympics is hard. But beating burnout is also really hard. It takes completely changing your mindset about what success looks like. It takes downsizing your relationship with work. It takes creating daily time for self-care. Those things don’t happen overnight. They happen when you free yourself to know it’s going to be perfectly imperfect along your journey like the rule of thirds suggests. And that the journey can take as long as training for the Olympics.
Take the long, sometimes scary, journey out of burnout. And don’t run away when it’s ok or crappy. That’s the only way out.
At a sustainable pace,
Ready to downsize your relationship with work and quit burnout?
Hi, I'm Grant Gurewitz. I'm on a mission to end burnout at work. I've been in tech for 10 years (ex-Zillow, current: Qualtrics) who suffered deep burnout and came back from it with no help of the hacky advice out there.
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