Creative people like artists, writers, and entrepreneurs often wind up doing too much at once, and end up exhausted and burnt out. The worst part is, once we recover, we often jump right back into doing, doing, doing, without giving any thought to how to avoid burning out again in the future.
Our ambition and enthusiasm for our projects is admirable.
Unfortunately that ambition and enthusiasm is often exactly what causes us to burn out.
We’re so excited about our work that we never take a break. There’s always one more thing we want to do. Then another. Then another. Then another. Until we’re overwhelmed, exhausted and burnt out. And sometimes even physically unable to do anything more.
When you have a lot of things you want to accomplish it’s easy to forget that rest is an essential part of the creative process.
The Creative Cycle
Stage One: Inspiration
You get inspired by something and become excited and full of ideas.
Stage Two: Exploration/Planning
You start figuring out more details. You outline, plan, and/or gather resources needed to make your ideas happen.
Stage Three: Creation/Production
You write/paint/build/do whatever is needed to turn your ideas into reality.
Stage Four: Completion
This is when you put the final touches on your project and take care of all the final details. Things like editing, publishing, and sharing the finished product happen in this stage.
Stage Five: Rest
You relax, spend time with family and friends, watch tv, go to the beach/mall/movies/etc., and replenish all the energy you spent working on your project.
Stage Five is the one most of us forget about.
Creatives and entrepreneurs are usually so full of ideas that we often skip right from stage four to stage one or two and get started on our next project.
This is a big mistake.
Skipping Stage Five is what leads to burn out.
And NOT skipping Stage Five is exactly how you can prevent burn out.
I know how agonizingly hard it can be to take a break when there’s so much you want to do, but you must take breaks. If you don’t, it’s likely that you will eventually be forced to take a break by burn out. And the forced break will likely be much longer (and a lot less fun) than any break you take willingly.
So if you truly love your work (and I know you do) then do yourself a favor and include REST in your plans before burn out forces you to take an extended break (often at the worst possible time) that pushes all your plans back by weeks or even months.
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