September 4, 2015

From Burned Out to Bad*ss: Confessions of a Recovering Workaholic.

 Dori Sonntag

One year ago today, I was tired.

I had spent the last two years working 60-70 hours a week. I was often up at 5 a.m. with my cup of coffee in hand, answering emails, solving problems and getting stuff done before showering, taking the kids to school and heading into the office.

After work, I would pick up the kids (barely before the extended care deadline), rush home to make dinner and then be on the computer again until 10 p.m.

I would often skip my evening Pilates class, which previously got me in the best shape of my life, because I “needed” to work. A glass or two of wine would get me through the night without being angry or frustrated that my life was my work. My husband warned me that I couldn’t keep this up, and I refused to listen, because I was on a high.

To be honest, I was addicted. It wasn’t the actual work I was addicted to—it was the feeling of accomplishing tasks, meeting goals and getting stuff done. I measured myself by how much I got done. My worth was measured by my task mastering skills. But at the end of the day, I felt empty and tired.

As a driven and independent female, I didn’t want to admit that I was burned out. However, I met all the characteristics: tired, low energy, not eating well, drinking too much wine, staying up too late, waking up too early, gaining weight, skipping exercise and feeling and acting more edgy and impatient than ever.

I was able to hide it well, pulling myself together to show the world that I could do and have it all. What is the definition of “having it all” anyway? If that was having it all, then I really didn’t want anything.

My mid-career crisis was exploding right before my eyes, and I had no idea what was happening. I began reading Martha Beck’s “Finding Your Own North Star,” which brought me to the depths of uncertainty while at the same time bringing me a strange form of comfort because I didn’t have to pretend things were perfect anymore.

I no longer hid from myself. I leapt into the pain, exploring and uncovering my emotions whether I really wanted to or not. I had no choice but to embrace the vulnerability if I truly wanted to move forward. It sucked. But it also worked.

I spent the last year moving from feeling burned out to awakening as a badass. No longer operating on autopilot, I learned how to regain control of my life again. I learned how to set better boundaries and leverage my strengths instead of my weaknesses. I learned to appreciate the gifts of others instead of becoming frustrated with all they might lack. I learned that change happens from the inside out, and if you don’t take care of a situation, it will likely repeat itself later in life.

It wasn’t always easy and not always fun. But it was worth it. Now, every day is a conscious choice of how I want to show up in life. Today, I choose to be a badass.

I believe every woman deserves to find her inner badass, to feel fully in control of her life—that no matter what comes her way, she has the tools and resources to manage. Imagine a world where every woman owns her greatness with power.

To all my ladies who have an inner badass yearning to be released, I offer up a few tips that have helped me. I hope they may inspire you to set your inner badass free.

1. Admit you are burned out.

You can’t solve the problem until you admit there is one.

2. Commit to your values.

Define what is most important to you in your life and stick to it without regret.

3. Set and honor your boundaries.

Don’t sacrifice or compromise your values. What (or who) do you need to say “no” to in order to love yourself a little bit more?

4. Stop focusing on the external.

The job, weight, finances, etc. are not the problem. Even if you get rid your obstacles, another one will come your way.

5. Start focusing on the internal.

What is really going on? What are you avoiding? Step into those difficult feelings and explore what is truly getting in your way. Lean into the pain and get real.

6. Build your confidence by learning more about the wonderful badass you are.

Take an assessment that measures your strengths and learn about all your wonderful gifts and talents. Then watch how this shows up in your daily life and do more of that.

7. Uncover the “rules” you created that are holding you back.
We all have them—some sort of self-imposed beliefs that are limiting us from reaching our potential. You created them, so guess what? You can change them ANY time you want.

8. Ask for help.
Find someone—a mentor, coach or friend who will help you honor yourself and your values and hold you accountable to the badass you were meant to be.

Your inner badass is waiting to come out. What are you waiting for?


Author: Dori Sonntag

Editor: Evan Yerburgh

Image: Author’s own

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