September has historically been a busy time: the start of the academic year, the return from vacation, or at least the warm lull of summer. This year, however, the busy seems amplified. The lists of tasks are longer, the struggles seem more profound and the whirl of stress and anxiety in the air feels somehow more tangible. I’ve spoken with clients, colleagues, parents and friends who have a similar observation. This got me thinking.
Is it that there is more? Perhaps. We do live in a society that generally strives for perpetual growth.
Could it also be that we are, individually and collectively, more exhausted? I hypothesize that fatigue, exhaustion and burnout are also playing a large role for most people.
We are still recovering from the massive impact of a global pandemic that has left no person untouched. I’m the first to want to put this behind us. I even debated whether to include it in the note. But I think it’s necessary to remember so that we can also cultivate compassion for ourselves and others.
Compassion can make space for a paradigm shift.
Perhaps you find yourself wondering why this Fall feels harder. You’ve been able to handle it before. You previously had the resilience and the stamina to meet the natural swell in demand that accompanies September. Why don’t you have it now? Often this sparks self-criticism - what’s wrong with me?
I challenge you to compassionately consider a paradigm shift. Your current abilities and bandwidth may very well be different than they once were. This is not necessarily the thing that needs fixing. The factor that makes this difference in bandwidth so frustrating is the expectation that you should get back to it. Perhaps it would be helpful to look at whether the energy needed to sustain your previous pace and ability to push through was unsustainable.
Perhaps, a new way forward is what is truly needed.
I ask you this question: are you striving to meet the standards that led to your burnout?
PS - If this note resonated with you, send me an email: email@example.com. Let’s talk about the resources available to support you.