Why My Work Bums Me Out (and What YOU Can Do About it)

I make no secret of the fact that I thoroughly and totally dig my work. Whether it’s one-on-one with my private clients, facilitating group and team sessions, or connecting with seminar audiences, I am constantly inspired, challenged, and rewarded. Truth be told, though, underneath all of this that’s great, I do experience a pretty regular undercurrent of worry and dismay.

Here’s what happens.

Because of the deep and raw conversations that I get to have with people, I have a front row seat to men and women who are:

  • No longer ignoring their urge to experience success that’s more fulfilling and less soul-sucking
  • Feeling on the brink of some crisis-based decision that they’re not sure will really be what they want
  • Not doing anything despite the reality of the first two bullet points

Getting to the point where you know you need a change and feeling paralysis around that is a very hard, very real struggle. It’s rife with fear, anxiety, indecision, and stagnation. From my vantage point, I see many genuine and valiant efforts to explore ways, means, and opportunities to deliberately create a richer success. And then I also see a large share of retreat from that; a shrinking back into perceived safety, and sheltering from what is presumed to be certain failure. And that’s when my work is disheartening.

This pulling back comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s rejecting the option to even entertain the idea that there could be a way that brings professional achievement AND personal fulfillment. Sometimes its opting out of the inward search for what success WITH happiness would really mean. At other times it’s taking cover from some supposed threat to one’s identity, status, and comfort. And sometimes it’s the claim that it is just easier not to bother.

My dismay grows….

It’s easier and more comfortable to turn away from possibility, accept a level of day-in and day-out suffering? It’s safer to keep the burnout blaze roaring than it is to turn off the fan even briefly to consider another way? Digging with habitual self-doubt and denying opportunity protects our status and identity? Soldiering on, accepting that “reality just bites,”  and that “this is what it takes to earn success” is responsible?

It’s this collective throwing up our hands in this insidious way that troubles me. Thankfully it is possible to shift that, as evident in the achievements of my clients who make my work fantastic!

Even though there are too many professionals still unconsciously choosing to not actively manage and own their professional success and personal fulfillment, I get to partner with people who choose differently.

You can too!

Start by making the deliberate choice to believe that you have more control over your satisfaction than initially meets the eye. Choose to make the effort to uncover your unique needs and priorities that will make you truly successful. Then, choose to actually do something about meeting them.

Let me be clear that this “choice” is not about all of us jumping the corporate ship and buying a food truck or traveling the globe taking pictures of tree bark. Choosing to create real success and fulfillment does not have to be that outwardly dramatic. Truly some of the biggest shifts can come from things as seemingly small as being more deliberate in how you manage your communications with your boss. That’s not as sexy as a food truck full of falafel, or a coffee table book of your photos, but the resulting elevated experience of success can be just as freeing and satisfying!

So what do you choose? Be my inspiration!

___________________________

If you’re ready to stop passively choosing a version of success that’s burning you out, boring you, or otherwise bringing you down. Let’s talk. You can choose differently. And you can create success that doesn’t bum you (or me) out. Contact me today at liv@livsyptak.com or 303.912.5726. 

Return to Authenticity

Authenticity. It sounds so simple. Touted as a hallmark of outstanding leaders, hailed as the root of personal fulfillment and happiness. Real. True. Genuine. You.

But it’s clearly not simple. The degree to which people are discontent, disconnected, and disillusioned in not just our workforce but our society as a whole suggests that there’s more to it than the basic advice to “just be you.” The litany of courses, guides, and training programs that exist to develop authenticity indicates that this is something to be learned. But this is backwards!

We don’t learn authenticity so much as we unlearn inauthenticity. 

As we are subject to increasingly intense pressures from more directions than ever it becomes tougher and tougher to stay oriented to what is real and genuine about us, our purpose, our work, and our connections.

Professional pressure to always be “on,” to not piss off people you might need on your side later, to keep doing more despite feeling less productive, less effective, and less energized. Personal pressure of all stripes including “mommy” (or daddy) guilt, derailed exercise programs, nagging home improvements. The pressure to ascend to titles, to be a thought leader, to eat this and not that, to have well adjusted multi-dimensional kids, and to do epic shit on top of it all…is A LOT! And that doesn’t even count the pressure we feel as a result of the volatile social, political, and cultural state of our country and the world.

We are pushed and dragged constantly. Pulled off track, away from center, away from what is aligned with what we value most, away from authenticity. As a result, we are irritable, challenged to attend to the things that really matter, uninspired, and detached. That’s when we become inauthentic. And also, it almost goes without saying, when we become less effective and less successful than we an and want to be.

Inauthenticity in our midst is not because we don’t have it in us, or because we haven’t learned how to be authentic. We all just ARE authentic; inherently. We don’t need to learn what it is and how to be it.

What we do need to learn is this: how to reorient, recalibrate, and realign our experiences, interactions, thoughts, actions, goals, and outcomes to what is most important and most true to us. When we do, we reclaim what’s real for us, we RETURN to authenticity.

My clients work through this process as a part of creating the success and fulfillment they want on their terms. Regardless of each client’s personal situation, they all engage the process in the same way. And you can to.

Start seeing where you may be sucked into thoughts, actions, comments, behaviors, and endeavors that aren’t connected with what you really value, what you really want, and what you really stand for in live and work. Start to recognize when you feel off kilter or off course. Consider the impact that continuing to be that way will have to to how you show up to others, to your confidence, to your results, to your aspirations, and to your connection with yourself and your family.  How real does that feel? How energizing is it? In what way does that match or not your vision for success and happiness?

Learning to catch yourself in the midst of inauthenticity and to recognize fully what is happening is the first step to getting back to your real potential. Only when you do so will you get back to the real success that you deserve!  

If you’re experiencing lack of alignment or inauthenticity and struggling to turn that around, it doesn’t mean you’ve lost your mojo. It’s all there. You and I on the phone for 30 minutes can pinpoint what’s happening and chart a course for YOUR return to authenticity. Drop me a note and we’ll set something up!

To your authentic success!

Liv Sig

“Maybe I’ll Just…”

I talk with a lot of people who are stagnant, frustrated, or desperate. One person might not be where they want to be in their career. Another person might be where she wants to be but recognize that it’s not what she expected. Someone else might realize that his work life is now costing him in more ways than it’s paying off. Yet another person altogether may be facing a challenge so new and different that success seems impossible and fear is growing.

No matter the specific scenario, when a person feels stuck, defeated, or in distress a common reaction is to want to escape in the quickest way possible. It makes sense that in the stress and exhaustion of those intense periods of low motivation, misalignment, uncertainty, or sheer overload we yearn for something—anything!—that will save us.

That’s typically when the “maybe I’ll just” thoughts rise up.  You know the ones…it’s things like:

“Maybe I’ll just quit and work in a coffee shop.”

“Maybe I’ll just get an individual contributor role that I can do in my sleep.”

“Maybe I’ll just forget about my business and get a job.”

“Maybe I’ll just stop caring so much.”

Every thought or utterance that starts with “maybe I’ll just” contains an element of flight.

Sure, there is a sense of liberation in these thoughts; a feeling of relief. And yes, saying something like this can feel like breaking free from struggle, worry, and pain. A lot of times, thoughts like this can even feed a fantasy of disappearing and withdrawing completely.

At the same time, every single “maybe I’ll just” statement or thought also represents a giving over of your power, your capacity, and your right to deliberately (re)shape your circumstance. No matter how deep in a hole you feel you are, regardless of your level of stress, busy-ness, uncertainty, or boredom you have the opportunity and ability to do something about it. You don’t have to check out!

Believing that your only option lies in “maybe I’ll just” is a cop out. The “maybe I’ll just” approach to working and living is the equivalent of throwing in the towel, or waving the white flag. It is a disengaged and unconscious way of deciding your future.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Even in the toughest, most desperate situations we all have the ability to choose for ourselves. While it is often the case that in deep exhaustion, stress, desperation, or apathy we feel like there is no option but to flee, we can ALL do better than that.

Success and happiness come as a result of our deliberately deciding and creating it. It isn’t haphazard. It isn’t lucky. Rather it is decisive, intentional, clear, and in positive support of what is best for us at the time.  

And no, this doesn’t rule out you quitting your job, selling everything, and moving to an island. It merely says that if you’re going to claim that option you do it with your full attention, engagement, strength, and ownership.

To your happy success!

Liv Sig

(If you’re about to make a “maybe I’ll just” decision let’s talk NOW! Let’s spend 30 minutes on the phone to ensure that what’s on the other side of the “just” is what you truly want and is aligned with your most important priorities. Reach me at liv@livsyptak.com or 303.912.5726.)

What You Already Know About Grit Might Hurt You

This week I had the great fortune to attend a talk and discussion with Angela Duckworth about her first book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. The central concept of Duckworth’s research is that the unrelenting pursuit of a goal in the face of challenge or setbacks over time—grit—is a greater predictor of success than talent or IQ. Among other findings, her research and analysis highlights that effort and perseverance are significant components for success.

Those that live with the sometimes tortuous drive to be the best at what we do, to strive for ever higher peaks in our performance know well that effort is essential in creating success. So I got worried when I heard this message. Will this lead an achievement-oriented successful person to think, “Alright, if I want more, I am going to get even grittier. I will work even harder. I’ll persevere more!”?

I couldn’t help but wonder if what she said about effort in both developing skill and maximizing performance might resonate for success-driven people, like my clients and me, as a call to action.

I got fidgety in my seat thinking about it.

Instantly I could here that inner voice say, “OK. It’s on. I am going to outwork and outperform like nobody’s business.” I could almost feel that adrenaline rush, that surge of ecstasy, that sweet drug of challenge that we high achievers crave.

I know from my own experience and from the clients I work with that this thought process is real. I know it results in intensified effort and that it is a turbo-boost to our drive. I also know that can be dangerous.

I wondered if this message could lead to more overwork and overdrive in the already burned out. I couldn’t help but ponder the potential risk of this message in the eyes and hands of the already gritty.

Could this lead to more willing acceptance among us that success has to suck? Might this amplify the exhaustion among the successful? Might we cling more fervently to the notion of sacrifice and to the “success at all costs” mentality that makes us miserable?

So I asked her.

I asked Ms. Duckworth about diminishing returns to effort and perseverance and the potential impact to happiness. Her answer? There is a cost to perseverance, grit, and tenacity in the pursuit of a goal. As she put it, “burnout is real.” Straight up.

She talked about how “paragons of grit” work extremely hard, deliberately practicing and honing their expertise in the name of top performance, AND that they rest. They are not uni-dimensional people who work without respite or other engagement beyond their pursuit of success. Top athletes, for example, have intense periods of training and then they rest (even on a daily basis). Top business professionals work in heightened focus for periods of time and then they engage their attention and energy elsewhere.

And so I offer you this, success focused high achievers that you are. A tip for you when you read this book. Take the effort piece as given. Agree with it, based on your own experience and record of success. Then, sink into the rest of it. Explore the concepts around interest, passion, and purpose. Consider how the application of deliberate practice might influence your greater success. Think about how you might instill grit and self-regulation in your children. And wonder, how might your experience of success expand as a result?

You might be surprised…not to mention happier!

When Success Blows Up…Are you the Mentos?

It’s time for a little success lesson from Steve Spangler, our locally based and internationally recognized hands-on science educator.

Steve’s the guy we all must thank for introducing us to the spectacular Mentos and Diet Coke geyser experiment. This fantastic display of the volatility of gas is not only instructive of scientific concepts, it also brilliantly illustrates a common professional success trap and the messy results of falling into it.

One of the first things we learn in this experiment is that it is not the Diet Coke that causes this massive eruption. There is no explosion without the Mentos. These candies—sweet, minty and delightful on their own—when dropped into the active, high pressure environment of the soda bottle, create a stellar blow up. The whole thing creates a huge mess of brown soda.

Even though the aftermath of the eruption suggests that the soda itself was the issue, we cannot overlook the role of the Mentos. The truth is, these delectable saccharine nuggets have some significant accountability in that mess.

And therein lies the perfect lesson for our pursuit of happiness and success.

Just like inside the soda bottle, the environments in which we endeavor to create success are high pressure, dynamic, and volatile. Then we, with our own characteristics and properties, act within and upon that environment. That’s when stuff blows up.

When it does, our tendency is to look at the environment or things around us for the reasons for what happened. We take the point of view that blow ups happen to or around us. We aren’t typically inclined to consider our role in creating the circumstances that allowed things to bubble and build to the point of eruption.

We don’t recognize that we also have accountability for part of the mess. And that can trip us up on our path to success.

But what’s true is this:  We are the Mentos!

It is time now to become accountable for what we introduce into our own atmosphere which causes things to react. Like how the Mentos causes the carbon dioxide in the soda bottle to react, things like how we show up, how we face challenge, and how we respond to other people in our midst causes elements in our environment to react.

It doesn’t matter where the volatility in our surroundings is coming from. Whether from not seeing the growth we expected on the bottom line, our perception of not being respected for our contribution, or from our team not functioning effectively. No matter the specific situation, a reaction will occur in your surroundings to what you are doing, thinking, or saying, or fundamentally to how you are being in the environment.

As much like the Mentos as we are in creating the intense pressure that can cause messy blow ups in our own professional environments, we have the distinct advantage of being able to change our characteristics to elicit an alternate reaction. With deliberate attention to and awareness of what we are doing to contribute to blow ups we have the opportunity to modify that. We can diffuse the pressure of the environment rather than intensify it.

But it starts with owning up to and taking accountability. So from here forward….don’t be the Mentos!

Happy World Day For Safety and Health At Work!

As if there could be a more perfect follow up to my teleseminar yesterday…yes, it was yesterday, not today as might have been suggested by the message that you got from me this morning :)….

Today is World Day for Safety and Health at Work. The timing could NOT be better!

Yes, this sounds at first blush like a day focused on things like leading practices for working at heights, staying alert while operating heavy equipment, or on ergonomics for repetitive tasks. It sounds like a day that doesn’t matter for managers and leaders who aren’t “in the field” or “on the floor.”

In fact, most of us, engulfed in our overbooked calendars, multitasking in meetings, and inhaling a “quick bite” for lunch while catching up on email, won’t even know this day happened.

World Day for Safety and Health at Work is recognized each year on April 28th. While it does often focus on the physical aspect of work, this year the focus is on workplace stress. This year it is all about the exact conditions that I highlighted on my call yesterday that are causing epidemic disengagement, disease, and discontent in our lives.

According to the United Nations, the World Day for Safety and Health at Work is a “campaign to promote safe, healthy, and decent work.”

Safe. Healthy. AND decent.

Generally, we would all probably say that our work is fundamentally safe, that it’s basically healthy, and as long as we’re paid and treated with a modicum of respect we’d also say it’s decent. But under the surface we’re kidding ourselves.

Our typical MO is turbo charged overload. We’re chronically fried mentally and emotionally. We can’t sleep without drugs or Johnny Walker. Our immune systems are failing. Our hearts attack us in protest and cancer threatens us. We are fried already and we continue on under increasingly intense pressure to handle all of the important, urgent, AND the not-at-all-important stuff that piles up. Is it any surprise that when we come together at work the combination of our individual irritability, burden, and exhaustion comes to a boil in the all too common “toxic” work environment?

This isn’t safe. It’s not healthy. It’s far from decent.

Can you relate?

This afternoon, consider this theme of Workplace Stress for yourself. What’s your personal current state with respect to the true safety, the genuine health, and the actual level of decency that you are either bringing to or experiencing at work? If your answers aren’t aligned to the success and fulfillment that you want perhaps this day could be your opportunity to make a well needed shift.

 

 

 

We Start in ONE HOUR! Free Teleseminar: This Can’t Be! Success Isn’t Supposed to Suck!

If you are sick of work feeling like it’s draining the life out of you, and you want to live better at work, get on this call!

This free call starts in just 1 hour.

Close your door, turn off your email notifications and join me at 10:00 am Pacific / 11:00 am Mountain / 12:00 pm Central / 1:00 pm Eastern for this FREE call.

It’s not too late! Register now. All the details are here.

Don’t miss this opportunity! Invest this hour and learn how to reclaim ownership over your success without losing your zest for life in the process.

“See” you soon!

 

Success Isn’t Supposed to Suck! Teleseminar Less Than a Week Away

Stop letting Mondays take over your Sundays with dread and worry!

Stop burnout from suffocating your commitment to be the best at what you do!

Stop dragging yourself through your days without purpose or connection with what you do

Join me next week for This Can’t Be! Success Isn’t Supposed to Suck.

On Wednesday April 27th at 11:00 am Mountain / 12:00 pm Central / 1:00 pm Eastern we’ll meet for this FREE (yes, it really is free) teleseminar. This is for high-performing, driven professionals like you who are just tired. Tired of being overwhelmed by work stress; tired of feeling de-motivated and uninspired; and tired of that undercurrent of feeling adrift or without real purpose in your pursuit of success.

Plan to be on this call if you’re ready to:

  • Recognize what “survival mode” costs you in terms of success
  • Acknowledge (and stop) the ways that we all participate in sabotaging our performance potential, success, and happiness
  • Identify alternative ways of work and living to proactively cultivate success and fulfillment NOW

It is time to take back the ownership of your own success. It’s time to clear your runway, amplify your performance, create success and not lose your zest for life in the process.

If you are sick of work feeling like it’s draining the life out of you…

If you want to shed the fear that success and happiness can’t coexist…

If you want to live better in your work….

Then invest the hour. Register here and be on this call.

“See” you in a week…

 

Fear Not Feedback

I recently had some feedback about my participation and performance at a workshop. The feedback stung. As I listened to what was said I felt warm at the back of my neck. My arms were tightening. I could feel a surge of something rising in my chest. My body was responding chemically, neurologically, and physically as if I was under attack. I could feel that my body was preparing for a fight.

Thankfully I’m not just a body full of impulses and emotions. I have a brain too. A brain that I actively train for awareness and discernment. So, while my natural physical responses were heading down the path of fear toward defensiveness, the addition of my brain’s engagement, and the application of it’s training diffused my experience.

I was able to really listen to the feedback, and take it in. I was able to recognize and understand the perspective from which the observations about me and my performance were made. I was able to recognize and feel disappointment and sadness around not having performed at my typical level.

Most important though I was able to decide how I wanted to feel about the information that was delivered, and to decide what I was going to do about it. That made all the difference.

But for so many of us, far too often, our response to any feedback that’s not praise is to shut down or push back.

This is especially true for us high achievers. Yeah, we dig positive feedback. And yes, affirmation of our magnificence is almost as crucial to our survival as the air we breathe. But feedback that is “constructive” or “developmental” is something different altogether.

Despite our often overtly stated desire to continue to learn, grow, and improve. Many of us struggle just to hear critical feedback, to say nothing of actually listening to and taking it on. As a result, and counter intuitively, we actually shut ourselves off from all that we want including greater achievement, success, recognition, reward, and happiness.

It hurts when people tell us that their experience of our skills, our ideas, our work product, or even our demeanor is less than perfect. It’s shocking for someone to rate our performance as mediocre or short of top notch. It can diminish our feeling of value as professionals, even as people. It can seem like a threat.  And, at times, it’s nearly debilitating.

So we deflect. We retreat. We defend. And if we’re not careful, we get stuck.

The ability to receive and assimilate critical feedback is essential for success and fulfillment. Feedback is not a foe to be fought off. It is, in fact, unmatched in terms of what it can show and teach us on our path to success and fulfillment. But if we crumble in a pile of emotion and defensiveness in the face of it we distance ourselves from it’s value.

Thankfully, like me, all of you have brains too! So your success shall not be made or broken solely based on your natural physical or emotional responses to feedback. Each of us is a system capable of sensing, evaluating and acting on many levels:  intuitive, emotional, physical, and mental. Just like in an effective, high functioning organization it takes ALL roles and levels to create success.

Active engagement in responding to and incorporating feedback is a practice. It is consciously developed and honed as a part of a broader endeavor to deliberately create success. It is a focused training effort the outcome of which will open up what would otherwise be closed off.

So fear not feedback. Welcome it. Challenge yourself to understand it. Let your ego step aside and allow feedback to show you the way to your greatest potential performance, your true success, and your full happiness.

Success Isn’t Supposed to Suck!

Do your Mondays start on Sunday…with the worry and dread of what’s to come?

Is your commitment to be the best at what you do often threatened by burnout?

Does it seem like you have to drag yourself through even the simplest of tasks because you’re just so uninspired by  work?

Are you frustrated with sacrificing today for some “tomorrow” when it’s all supposed to be worth it?

If any of this sounds all too familiar, you know something’s up. And because you’re a “get things done” person, you also know that you can’t just keep going on as if everything’s a-ok.

Join me on April 27 at 10:00 am Pacific / 11:00 am Mountain / 12:00 pm Central / 1:00 pm Eastern for This Can’t Be! Success isn’t Supposed to Suck

This is a FREE (yes, it really is free) teleseminar for high-performing, driven professionals like you who are just tired. Tired of being overwhelmed by work stress; tired of feeling demotivated and uninspired; and tired of that underlying of feeling of being adrift or without real purpose in your pursuit of success.

Plan to be on this call if you’re ready to:

  • Recognize what “survival mode” costs you in terms of success
  • Acknowledge (and stop) the ways that we all participate in sabotaging our optimal potential, success, and happiness
  • Identify alternative ways of working and living to proactively cultivate success and fulfillment NOW

It is time to reclaim your ownership of your success. It’s time to clear your runway, amplify your performance, and not lose your zest for life in the process.

So join me! Take 10 seconds now, sign up, block the time on your calendar as NON-negotiable, and then hop on the phone on April 27th!

Click Here to Register!

Liv