Vacate the Premises… No, really.
As hard as I tried, I could not get up off the couch at the end of a work day. I knew I needed to… there was stuff I had to get done… but I was devoid of all motivation and my energy level was nonexistent. I thought maybe I was sick -according to WebMD I was definitely dying – but it turned out to be something you’ve probably experienced too. I was burnt out. Exhausted. Hated my job. It was pouring over into my life. Cooked. Put a fork in me.
Ironically, I had just been on vacation. The beach usually resets everything but this time it didn’t. And it took me a few years to figure out why. Sure, I went on vacation, but did I actually “vacate” anything? Absolutely not. My phone was tethered to my hand. My computer was always open on work emails. My stress level was through the roof. And my hair was already on it’s way out.
Why do we let this happen?
I’ve put myself in positions before, where even under duress and facing exhaustion, I worked Saturdays. They weren’t mandatory, yet I did it anyway. I’ve put myself in positions before where I make my personal time my work time instead of establishing boundaries. I have been willing to sacrifice my own health and mental well-being to move the needle a tiny amount – and sometimes not at all.
This happens because we lose clarity over time, and when we don’t rest and recover, that clarity shifts and so do our boundaries. We forget how good it feels to be free, to actually vacate anything, so we don’t prioritize real recovery. When I keynote as a resilience speaker, I hammer home the point that resilience is about recovery – not endurance- contrary to popular belief, and point out how real recovery drives resilience only when we are willing to vacate the premises.
The Mayo Clinic cites work burnout as the cause for heart disease, high blood pressure, insomnia, reduced immunity, and even diabetes. We also know that this level of stress and exhaustion undoubtedly affects our relationships, our motivation and goals, our happiness, our success… this touches every area of our lives.
Burnout is like watching yourself take actions you barely have the energy to take but you keep taking them because you don’t see a way out of your commitments. It feels like a cynic set up shop in your head and no matter what happens, you cannot see the silver lining or the bright side in anyone or anything. And it’s the largest cost of a lack of resilience that exists.
A Collective Agreement
As you’re reading this, you are probably feeling a lot of what I am saying. Or, as a leader, maybe you are feeling and seeing this. We’ve made this collective agreement to commit to unrealistic standards and now it seems time to collectively commit to recovery. It’s August… have you planned a vacation? Or calendered time to vacate anything? Have you modeled this vacate behavior? Are you contributing to a culture that supports recovery? Are you consciously creating space when your team vacates so they don’t feel obligated to be “on” when they’re supposed to be “off”?
Let’s Talk About Recovery
Think about this: When we don’t take time to vacate, we are doing everyone a disservice. Our relationships, our careers, our mental state, our emotional wellbeing… everything is touched by burnout. And everything listed is touched by recovery.
Resilience requires recovery. I think we are well overdue to shed the mindset that we have to always be hustling, grinding or working our fingers to the bone. This is not how we become “the best”.
Share your thoughts and your “vacate” rituals in the comments below.