Layoffs, downsizing, and “rightsizing” are a common occurrence these days, and often they happen without rhyme nor reason.
by Nancy Friedberg, Now What? Facilitator
We’re living in an age of perpetual motion—so much so that we forget to take a moment to press the pause button, collect ourselves, and breathe. Proof is everywhere. While recently purchasing an Apple Watch, I discovered a new Apple App called Breathe. Oddly enough, this genius app detects an elevated stress level and heart rate and reminds you to BREATHE with an alarm signal to your wrist.
I have seen countless clients who end up “burned out” from overload and find their careers and personal lives come to a grinding halt. They are often left with three choices: 1) quit their job 2) obtain approval for a sabbatical from work or 3) request a medical leave of absence. But what if these options simply don’t feel plausible?
Try this instead: Give yourself permission to take what I call a “mental sabbatical.” I define this new concept as a structured time out from life—a chance to free your mind—devoid of all the should’s and have to’s rattling around your head. A period to simply feel mentally free to explore without any added pressure of having to do something, make any forced decisions, or take any impulsive fear-based actions.
Think about what’s Not Working
Consider any and all unnecessary clutter in your life, be it physical, mental, or emotional. Unless you spark a change, you’re likely to become burned out at work. Explore all the parts of your life that are draining and no longer serve you. Make a list of all the intolerances and irritants—people, places, and things. Then eliminate each energy drain one by one.
One dramatic example of this simple exploration led one of my clients on a de-cluttering frenzy in her home. The result? She decided after 4 months that a radical career/life change was in order. She left her corporate career of 25 years and a marriage of 15 years and moved from NYC to upstate New York, forging a whole new professional and personal life.
Examine Your Identity
Evaluate your primary role and how it impacts your identity. Are you a full time caretaker for your children or aging parent, a leader on a mission, or a tireless volunteer? Dig deep and discover the other parts of your identity you may have lost touch with. Identify any losses you’ve endured without overdoing it in this primary role.
In May 2010, I gave myself permission to take a 4-month full-time sabbatical from my primary role as Career Coach. The clarity I sought came right to me—in the white space I discovered a deeper craving for greater connection and more quality time with my two teenage sons. Following my leave, I transformed how I worked and played so I could be more fully present for both my sons and my husband while at home and my clients while at work. Today, 7 years later in my new role as “empty nester,” I can say it was the best choice I ever made.
While you might feel out of control, as though you’ve lost your authentic nature, a mental sabbatical can help you find your way, once again.
Look At Limitations
Consider your limiting beliefs and write them down. Think about the stories and messages you received from long ago that no longer serve you. By encouraging productive thinking and creating new possibilities, you’ll create excitement that embodies more of who you are. For instance, is your line of work limiting? Or, are you more risk adverse? Be honest: According to research at Pepperdine University School of Management, authenticity and vulnerability are linked, so don’t shy away from acknowledging flaws or limitations.
Explore Your Life Story
Take this time to separate the happy, healthy parts of your “story” from the unhealthy ones that may have led to fatigue and burnout. You can also start your day on a positive note with morning motivational mantras from Now What?® Coaching to encourage mental change. At Now What?® Coaching, those suffering burnout or who are desensitized to their dreaming mechanism are also encouraged to engage in “hobby by crisis.” Once you’ve identified negative patterns in your life story, use your intuition to create new ideas.
For instance, engage in a new hobby that can bring joy. View life as an experimental laboratory, rather than a prison where you feel enslaved. Here’s an example: One client realized it was time to reignite his sense of humor. What started out as simply a fun improvisation class turned into a moonlighting side career, performing at comedy clubs around NYC.
Find Your Purpose
Enthusiastically search out the qualities that absolutely no one on this planet has that only you can offer. Ask others for feedback on what they come to you for and how you have enriched their lives. These unique gifts will help you define your purpose. For instance, a study at Florida Atlantic University found that people who lack meaning have higher risk of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, but by encouraging participants’ creative talents, such as writing and meditation, risk decreased.
These gifts of purpose can also be quite simple, such as making someone laugh easily, being the voice of reason, inspiring wonder in others, or serving as the calm force in a crisis. Find ways to live from your purpose every day during your mental sabbatical.
Put yourself first to nourish the soul and regain authenticity. Whatever your path may be, approach it with excitement, openness, and curiosity—and you will see the healing it provides for health and happiness, long-term.
Originally published on Nancy Friedberg’s Linkedin articles
If you read my last installment, you are aware that I’m running for office in NJ at the state level. It’s a full-time addition to an already full-time business and a full-time position as chief operating officer of a household with teenagers. This is not unlike what many of you are facing as you search for a new job or build bridges to your next career move.
PREPARE: Realize that what you are about to embark on will require taking back hours of your day. Clear the way to make that happen. Get out of unnecessary commitments and begin lining up people who can help you.
LIGHTEN YOUR LOAD: Please don’t tell me you can’t. You either have to ask for help or hire it. Rely on friends to drive your kids or take over volunteer responsibilities. Let your household responsibilities wait, or if you can afford to, hire out the pieces you will no longer have time for. My husband has taken over shopping and preparing meals, which had been my exclusive responsibility.
USE YOUR TIME WISELY: Make your new effort a top priority daily. What MUST get done today to move it forward? You can and should do more than the one thing, but you must have one FAIL PROOF item that WILL happen every day for your new direction or query.
BE CHOOSY: Along the lines of valuing your time, be sure that you are focusing on priorities in the rest of your life too. However, be very choosy. It’s OK to say no to things that will derail or distract your efforts right now. You have to be a bit selfish for a while. “No” to everyone who wants to meet for coffee, “no” to meetings with no agenda, “no” to even your workout some days. (OK I’m talking about myself on that last one)
KEEP A MASTER LIST: Keep a longer-term list of things that have to be done in separate parts of your life. (Current job, future project, home life) and constantly re-prioritize. Delegate to get the most important things taken care of first while keeping your eye on the next thing coming up. (I’ve often said my years as a waitress made me very good at this—but I know that may not be that helpful for you!)
RUN TO WIN! —Yes, that’s political campaign lexicon, but when you are working towards a new job or a career change, you don’t do it to lose. You do it to win. Assume the win and behave accordingly!
IF you hold on to the vision of what you are trying to bring into your life by changing jobs or careers, I would expect you to be inspired. That inspiration needs to fuel you as you keep up your life as a double agent. Fully living the life you’re in and the one you are growing towards.
You can do this! Let us know if we can help.