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?
ABOUT MELISSA SMITH
Melissa is a naturopathic nutritionist and health coach who helps people who are feeling tired all the time get their energy and life back. She consults with people worldwide via webcam (AKA telehealth) from Melbourne, Australia.