Thank You Burnout

To make real change you need to feel the pain of rock bottom. For me, that was burning out.

Alone in my apartment during lock-down, craving social interactions, connection.

Stressed out by my start-up job, where I'd taken on way too much responsibility, within a toxic company culture, compensated way below industry standards, building paper castles in the wind.

Unable to experience new things. To travel. Which had been such an important part of my life thus far.

Quitting hobbies, habits, and side projects in a desperate attempt to preserve enough energy to keep up with work. Feeling like my life was running away from me. The years are supposed to be your best.

But then, thankfully, I burned out.

Burnout was my body telling me, no, forcing me, to rebuild. To rethink what I wanted to do. And I did.

The first step was getting rid of what was holding me back. For me this meant quitting my job, terminating my apartment lease, and selling everything that couldn't fit in a suitcase. That was a lot of weight off my shoulders.

Next, get the drive back. I needed some time off. Just to recharge. Doing nothing. And then start rebuilding simple but important habits. Getting fresh air, being active, eating well, do the best to connect with people. Then, slow and steady, seeing what projects felt inspiring. Without overdoing it, do something every day. Feeling progress. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Give this process enough time and sooner or later, you're back. Back to create a new roadmap. A new life.

I wanted to base my roadmap on freedom. Freedom to travel. Freedom in my everyday schedule. Freedom in my workday. Freedom to meet new people. Freedom to connect. Freedom to experience. Freedom to grow. Freedom to live. Okay, I think you get it.

In practical terms, I first needed to look at my finances. How much savings do I have? How much do I spend each month? How long would it be until I need income? What about a cheaper town? What do I need to spend money on to be content? Just look at the numbers, write them down, on paper, excel, whatever, and get an overview. Feel you are in control. If nothing else that you know where you are.

This gave me a breather. At my current expenditure rate, I saw I had a year of buffer, even more, if I moved to a cheaper city.

Then comes the question, what to do. Following my north star of freedom, joining another company doesn't make sense. It had to be my own, even though it'll come with a fair bit of stress.

I'd had a few side projects on the back burner, but when deciding which one to pursue, a startup I'd started with some friends from university got some funding. It would give me a lot of freedom, and income enough not to burn through my savings. The choice was easy.

Better yet, it gave me the freedom to travel.

Backtracking a little, I'm very happy I burned out. It pushed me to follow my north star. Maybe I would have found the same path either way, but if nothing else, expedited the process. I'm not superstitious, but it sometimes really feels like things happen for a reason.

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