I am going to tell you something that will really surprise you! The biggest obstacle to success in anything you wish to achieve is not another person who is more aggressive, tougher, or seemingly more accomplished and smarter than you.
It is something very, very different: It is not taking care of yourself well. For without purposeful self-care, which includes wise attitudes and perspectives about our life journey, one cannot think, plan, and compete effectively.
I am not only speaking of how necessary this framing is to succeed in work, but also to succeed in finding long-lasting love and friendships. For without adopting this perspective and their accompanying protective attitudes, life often seems too hard and complicated, causing us to burnout, lose confidence, and give up.
Recently I completed a six-year published study on burnout and self-care. Although there can be overlap, burnout differs from depression in a major way. Depression is usually caused by a deep and jolting loss personally or professionally, but it can also overwhelm one for no discernable reason. Burnout is always caused by overload.
The developmental stages of burnout are discernable: One begins to feel negative and hopeless. Irritability, negativity, sarcasm, and quickness to anger follow.
Predictably, overlooking all accomplishments and becoming closed to the input of others follows. Paranoia and depletion set in, often accompanied by attempts to medicate through alcohol or drugs. Functioning then comes to a screeching halt.
Proper self-care strategies, which both alleviate and prevent burnout, are necessary gifts to oneself. What follows are “Thirty Gifts to Yourself to Remember”. These are attitudes and behaviours that will help you prevent burnout or say goodbye to it forever:
1. Remember that if you do not take care of yourself, you will destroy your own potential. (This means rest, sleep, holidays, proper medical attention, and time to unwind in the best way possible for you.)
2. Remember that if you find yourself in a work setting where you are demeaned, you should find a way to leave as quickly as possible.
3. Remember that knowing yourself offers you the understanding of any personal triggers that can harm you. (We all have these triggers. As an example, if you knew rejection as a child, a dismissive co-worker can cause either anger or withdrawal. However, the co-worker could be shy or distracted, and unless untrustworthy, you would be wise to not take another’s way of coping personally.)
4. Remember the importance of friendships, and that to have friends, you must be a friend. (Friendships make the good times better, and help you through losses and disappointments. Friendships take time to develop and must be nurtured.
5. Remember the importance of sharing how you feel with ones important to you if you begin to feel taken advantage of or poorly treated.
6. Remember that friends or loved ones who are unkind to you, put you down with regularity, and will not let you address your concerns with are not the ones to built your life around.
7. Remember that the path you chose to bring you fulfillment may not be the one that those dear to you have taken or wish you to take.
8. Remember that those most fulfilled in their work find a profession they feel passionate about.
9. Remember that there are no real mistakes: there are only learning experiences.
10. Remember that if your dream does not come true, there is only one thing to do: Find another dream.
11. Remember to believe in yourself: Success takes time, work, and persistence.
12. Remember the importance of Letting Go! There are times when it is necessary to move on – in work and in relationships.
13. Remember that to love is not to control, but to show respect and trust.
14. Remember that to lead is not to control, but to inspire and motivate.
15. Remember that if you cannot say “no,” you cannot say “yes.”
16. Remember that if you cannot take care of yourself, you cannot take care of others.
17. Remember that all lives know loss, and that we must face them and give ourselves time to mourn.
18. Remember that each day is a gift. That’s why we call it “the present.”
19. Remember to take time to see the magic of a sunrise, sunset, garden, and children.
20. Remember that a smile or kind word offered another, even one we do not know, can have a profound impact on his or her life.
21. Remember that it is possible to be both successful and kind.
22. Remember to have perspective about your achievements. Often success takes a long time. Just keep at it.
23. Remember to allow your accomplishments to bring you fulfillment. Do not merely rush ahead toward your next achievement. Stop, enjoy, be with yourself and others.
24. Remember that once you have chosen your life partner, true sexual fulfillment, an essential language of love, takes time and patience.
25. Remember to have flowers in your home, no matter how busy you are.
26. Remember that your family members need time with you.
27. Remember that you need time for yourself.
28. Remember that each life is a unique and precious one.
29. Remember that to live takes risks.
30. Remember to give yourself the gift of counseling or therapy if you feel conflicted and confused about something important that these strategies do not address. To do so shows great strength!