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Question: I need to work crazy hours; how do I survive?
My first year in my first job was a really tough one (find out why). One of the risks when you start a job you are really passionate about is burning out. This risk is something that after more than ten years in the corporate world I am still exposed to, especially since in parallel to my corporate career I now run a side business, I’m consulting startups, and I’m working out regularly.
Over the years, the following 5 rules have been helping me to stay away from the burnout zone:
1. Have passion for what you do
While passion will help you to go the extra mile at work, it will also help to keep your mood high and overcome the tiredness that you will inevitably face at times.
2. Have a healthy lifestyle
Having a very intense working life can be extremely tiring. Eating healthy food, working out, catching up on missed sleep at least once a week will help you to keep your mood and energy high.
3. Make your life easier
Try to minimise the complexity in your life by reducing any stress related to time and decision making. For example, don’t book meetings too close to one another, take taxis if you can (faster than public transport), plan ahead what you will wear during the week to save time in the mornings. Try also to start being comfortable with making faster decisions, even when you only have 80% of the information available.
4. Define your 5 priorities in life
A day has only 24 hours and to do things right, you need to be consistent and spend enough time on each of them. As a consequence, you can really only fit 5 priorities in your life. In my case currently these are: my corporate job, Wolf Leaders Academy, my startup consultancy, my friends, and sport. Whenever I tried to do something on top, I had to put one of these on hold. I could only start Wolf Leaders Academy because I stopped my previous business. When I was preparing my stand-up comedy debut, I had to put Wolf Leaders Academy on hold for a month.
5. Be kind to yourself
At times, you will not be able to fulfil all 5 priorities. You will not have the energy to go to the gym, even if sport is close to your heart; or you will not feel very social and prefer to stay at home. Give yourself a well-deserved break: after all, you are not a super-human, even though you still try to live a super-life.
There is no doubt that your first year on the job is going to be one of the hardest of your life. However, an exhausted mind can only go so far, and to stay ahead of the pack you’re going to need all your energy. Follow these tips and you should avoid the dreaded burnout.
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