If you’re a coach or trainer who lives a busy work life, chances are, you’ve prided yourself in having no off switch.
Being this busy might be a form of validation to show your peers you’re “important” or “needed.” Or a justification measure for your success. Or a motivational tool for you to feel like you’re grinding as hard as Gary V instead of getting complacent.
I get it.
Early on in my career as a personal trainer and strength coach, I was one of those people who splashed “no excuses” and “grind hard” and “if you’re not working, you’re not succeeding” quotes across my social media.
Looking back, I can’t believe I got satisfaction from this type of schedule:
Monday: personal train 6am-10am, strength train athletes 3pm-8pm.
Tuesday: personal train 6am-10am, blog 11-12pm, run skills sessions 3-8pm.
Wednesday: personal train 6am-10am, admin work 11-1pm, run skills sessions 3-8pm.
Thursday: rinse and repeat.
Friday: rinse and repeat, but black out.
Saturday: strength train youth athletes 9am-1pm, blog 3-6pm, go home alone by 9pm.
Sunday: strength train youth athletes 9am-1pm, blog 3-6pm, go home alone by 9pm.
Of course I love what I do and wouldn’t have stuck with it for the past 7 years. Although, full disclosure: if Victoria’s Secret called me tomorrow with a modeling contract, I’d leave with the bat of an eyelash.
Over the past 7 years, I’ve been able to establish a consistent client base, consult soccer clubs and teams, write for numerous fitness publications, train people online across the world, write a book of my own, and establish a personal brand so strong people come up to me at conferences exclaiming, “Fitsoccerqueen!”
It’s been pretty sweet.
Too, while I would say I’ve been lucky, there was still a large degree of hustling, coaching in person for several years, and creating content with relentless consistency (going on 500 articles in just 4 years).
The coaching world calls for an insatiable desire to get better and master your craft. After all, we’re in what I like to call the “human business,” where we help people to level up in sports and life.
However, when our work involves assisting others, sometimes, we forget ourselves.
Guilty as charged: I’ve burned out 100+ times in my career.
And it caused the people around me as well as myself an immense amount of pain. I’ve yelled at my boyfriend for making toast. I’ve snapped at my parents. I’ve been admitted to the ER for severe illness. I’ve turned into more of an introvert than my cat.
Burn out downright sucks, yo.
Taking the conversation back to my series of burn outs, my friends always had to tell me to stop writing, stop talking soccer, stop tweeting, stop filming exercise videos, and stop writing undulating periodization programs on a Saturday night.
Heck yes, I’m passionate about what I do, but even I need to check in with myself when I’m going too hard with work. My friends call me out, too.
So what methods do I use now to prevent burn out? Let’s go:
1. Establish your “non-negotiable” activities.
What top 5 things do you value the most? More importantly, what top 5 things will you need to make time for no matter how busy you get and how demanding others are of you?
Stick with those.
For me, this means getting in at least 3-4x a week of my own workouts in, seeing family 1-2x a week, having a few hours to myself every night to read philosophy, traveling every couple months, and seeing my best friends 1-2x a week for a few hours.
You see, when you’re firm in your non-negotiable activities, you’re able to establish boundaries with others (colleagues and friends and significant others) and focus on yourself for once in your life.
But. You have to communicate these with conviction. End of story.
2. Pick up hobbies that have nothing to do with work.
Picking up hobbies allows you to escape the grind. In fact, you might find that you come back refreshed, clear-headed, and eager to get back at it.
Snowboarding is an activity that does this for me.
So what is yours?
What activity, whether physical, creative, or meditative breathes life into you?
3. Have friends outside of your field.
The other week, I went to a soccer coaches’ party. After a few glasses of wine, I thought people would be spilling their guts about their personal lives. Moreover, I thought I would finally get to know my colleagues on a different level, you know, since we weren’t in a work setting.
Instead, everyone was talking formations, tactics, recovery workouts, tournaments, standings, and rankings. Sigh.
Of course, I love talking shop with my colleagues because I can learn, but there’s value in learning outside of your realm. In fact, you can gain knowledge gems from a friend who is a nurse, or who is a kindergarten teacher, or who is a photographer, or who is a rap music producer. It doesn’t always have to be related to coaching at every outing.
If you want to truly level up in this world spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, have a diversity of friends.
With that said, I’m going to make Friend Early Diversification a thing. Have multiple friends with multiple interests and learn a variety of life skills. <— science.
4. Take on a new perspective about work.
Now this tip requires a high level of thinking.
Because here’s the thing: there will be seasons when you DO have to hustle and cut back on enjoyment in your personal life. So when you’re going through these cycles, think about work through the eyes of gratitude.
As an example, if you’re so busy that you forget to shower, or forget text your loved one, or forget to watch Walking Dead on a Sunday night, can you list 5 things you’re grateful for?
Perhaps amazing clients. Perhaps a solid mentor. Perhaps fun colleagues. Perhaps a facility that plays electronic dance music. Perhaps an affordable continuing education program. Perhaps benefits. Perhaps your Adidas jacket you got for free from a club client:
Take on a new perspective about work. I promise you, the more you infuse your life with gratitude, the more you realize the busy times aren’t too shabby.
I hope this advice helps. Coming from a female coach who has burned out a multitude of times, I’ve learned to make my time more efficient and live my life more energized.
Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t trade coaching for the world. I’ve been involved in the game for over 20 years, coaching for 7, and have found a tremendous amount of fulfillment through my work.
Again, I still have to check in with myself when I’m constantly “on” and buzzing around the soccer world.
Truthfully, I want to experience the richness and fullness of life, so that requires me to dabble in other activities once in a while. Oh, and introduce myself as Erica, instead of Fitsoccerqueen. ;-O