Last post I confessed to the three murders I’ve committed in my life so far. Fortunately, all three of those acts were killing old versions of myself – versions that no longer served me. I promised in this post to go deeper into a related subject: burnout and what causes it.
Burnout was one of the reasons I virtually shut down my business and went on a sabbatical for two years. Lots of things come to mind when we look at that topic, and I hold some very unconventional beliefs about burnout. But first…
David raised an interesting question. He asked “…you must have read and heard a ton of people teach that the $65,000 watch ain’t going to make you happy… wonder, did you have to experience it yourself to find out it was true.. or why did it take you so long to find out why it wasn’t making you happy?? Or did it??”
I’m really glad he asked about that. But especially glad that he asked the follow up: Or did it?
Because that watch (and the more than 200 other ones I owned) did bring me some happiness. By the way, I still have that one. When I’m looking for something elegant to wear and open one of my watch drawers to see that timepiece, it does bring me a degree of happiness.
Will that watch make me happy if my dog dies, my car gets stolen, or I’m suffering from moderate to severe plaque psoriasis? Probably not. I would be the first to tell you that money and material things don’t buy happiness. But what I would add is that money and material things allow you self-expression, and self-expression is a vital element of happiness. That may not be true for everyone, but it certainly is for me.
The catalyst for my rethinking my possessions and going on the sabbatical was when I found two watches, worth more than $100,000, stuffed behind some baseball hats in my closet and realized I had never worn them. (A year earlier, I had some construction workers doing some remodeling in my home, and thought I should move them out of sight, lest someone be tempted to do something stupid. I then completely forgot I owned them.) That experience made me realize I had far too many cars, shoes, watches, and clothes to actually enjoy them. (An experience my podcast listeners know, I have repeated again recently.)
But don’t make the mistake of believing that the lesson was to reject money and materials things to find happiness. That isn’t the answer. You’ll just go from a wealthy person who is unhappy to a broke person who is unhappy. And that really sucks. (I can really go down a rabbit hole here on money, status, and prosperity. But let’s jump back to burnout and we can talk more on the money stuff in the posts for this coming week.)
The introspection that led to the sabbatical was focused on creating more meaning in my life. As I said in the last post, to move from success to significance. There were four things I was fairly certain of:
That actually led me to a fifth conclusion: That something was seriously out of sync. A guy who was born to teach and loved to teach, should never get burnt out to teach. So I set my intention to discover the answer to this contradiction. I sold my place in South Beach, furnished with everything, to a sheik from Dubai. I left with what fit in my roller board suitcase and headed to the airport.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to meditate in a cave on a mountain in Tibet, join a lesbian commune, or start a boy band. And I didn’t care. All I cared about was killing off that old me that I didn’t want to be any longer – and creating the new, improved me, I was excited to become.
That journey was a success, although keep in mind that the transformation into becoming the new you isn’t a “one and done” event. It’s an ongoing, continuing adventure. The epic saga continues…
I’m still growing and learning every day, hoping to get at least one step closer to the highest possible version of me. While there are hopefully millions more lessons to be learned, I have discovered the cause of my contradiction, which answered the mystery of my burnout. Here’s what I came to believe:
Please reflect on that. In the next post, I’ll share exactly how this process played out for me. Until then, would love your comments below on what you think.