One of the most ridiculously shameful experiences in my life was when I stood in my boss’s office, and for the first time, said ‘no’ to taking on another project – then burst into a flood of tears.
I had nothing more to give.
As the highest performing account manager in the business, I felt incredibly ashamed I didn’t have the physical, mental or emotional capacity to do ‘more’.
The exhaustion I felt was so overwhelming. It was like every cell in my body was tired and begging me to rest.
I say it was ridiculous I was ashamed because, at the time, I thought I was a failure.
I ignored all I’d achieved.
Exceeding KPIs and financial forecasts and delivering world-class design projects to global businesses.
None of that mattered.
The exhaustion I’d pushed through for years, the pressure of all the constant stress, took its toll.
Then, I was forced to take weeks off to rest. I was utterly burnt out.
At that point, I didn’t care if I lost my job. Nor did I care that I risked losing my career.
Because when you’re at that stage of exhaustion, you tend to have a complete feeling of apathy.
Being in my 20s helped me recover from burning out to a degree, though how I showed up in the world hadn’t changed, which was why I nearly ended up back in the same situation a few years later.
The most pivotal moment that second time around was realising I could take back MY power and consciously create the life I wanted, versus what others expected of me – or trying to please others, like meeting the unrelenting demands of my job, while ignoring my needs.
So, I designed my life to be congruent with my biggest values and desires (health, freedom, learning, personal development and fun) while seeing myself as my number one asset.
I decided to fill my cup first and only give from the overflow so I could prevent exhaustion from taking hold again.
I decluttered my life of people, obligations and habits that drained me, and replaced them with those that nourish me.
I ate more nutritious food and trained as a naturopath and nutritionist because of the incredible change it made for my energy and mind.
I practised extreme self-care – the most important practice of self-love I’d so badly neglected up until that point.
I became present in each moment and mastered the deeply liberating art of mindfulness.
I studied positive psychology and emotional intelligence, so I could navigate life with tools that help me be less stressed and reactive – and overall more resilient.
I’m so grateful for the experience, as exhaustion and burnout led to a huge sea change that inspired me to help other exhausted women get their energy back.
And now? I choose to achieve a standard of excellence, to still give and help others, without depleting myself in the process.
I choose to be the master of my energy and my life by remaining conscious of what nourishes me and what doesn’t – and prioritising my own needs and desires over others.
In other words – I’ve taken back my power.
Is it time you did, too?
Melissa is a naturopathic nutritionist and coach who helps exhausted women get their energy back. She consults with people worldwide via the web from her home in Melbourne, Australia.