Saturday, October 17, 2015


My Dear Son:

It’s been over a year since I wrote you last, which tells me it’s been a busy year. I’m really glad things are finally changing, though, so I can spend more time with you again.

Although I’ve gotten great satisfaction from being able to help Dad earn money, I’ve also felt very burned-out lately, too.

Burnout is a unique emotional and physical condition. As you’ve probably heard about it while gaming, it’s particularly common in battlefield environments.

You will probably encounter burnout at least once in your lifetime. Different people react different ways, but the most common feature of burnout is beginning to hate something you once loved. It becomes hard to separate out where things went wrong, but usually the difficulty begins with too many hours at the task and being unable to leave the task mentally behind when you walk away from it. There’s also usually some time period of urgency or deadline involved, say, like managing a new business trying to make a profit in its early years, or a test coming up.

Sometimes burnout happens to college students in their third or fourth year of college. They’re pushing hard to pass exams, missing sleep, and trying to play varsity sports. Suddenly they realize they’re staying sick a lot, and they’re not really sure they even want to finish their degree.

These are only a few examples. Many of us go through some short periods of burnout in our lifetimes, get a few days rest, and feel good as new. Usually it's more about how we feel emotionally about what we're doing that makes us feel so tired.

It goes without saying that there are many seminars and help centers devoted to burnout alone. Some of the key features in recovering from burnout are: the ability to delegate tasks to others, the willingness to accept that others will take responsibility, and the ability to say “no.”

I had a client several years ago who followed a very simple message, but one so completely full of guidance, I still think about it today. It said: “Do something different every day.”

I think you will see as you grow older that people thrive on a fine mixture of routine and adventure. Routine, the same grind, the beaten path all run the risk of boring us to death while offering sameness, which for the most part, gives us a feeling of security. Adventure and the unknown have a way of setting us on guard, on edge, just enough to break through the tedium of day-to-day routine. Some people need more of one and less of the other. We all, I think, differ only by degrees here.

I only talk about this with you now, because, at some time or another, you'll encounter burnout. It very often happens to people who are passionate about what they do, based upon the idea that more means better or more perfect or some other nonsense. I'm here to tell you, the ability to walk away from a passion is very often your best friend. If I were to make it into a motto, I would say, “Live richly. Love deeply. Coffee break frequently.”

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