Burnout journey: Road to Recovery

I WOULD describe myself as being at a stand still. Right now, I recognize what is wrong, I am taking steps to fix it, but I know that the timeline won’t let me recover fully right now. At least I know that what I am experiencing is a bad case of burnout. Here is my burnout timeline and the actions I am making to recover:

APRIL 2019: After three months of therapy, I accepted I was experiencing a bad case of burnout. It was an emotional realization! I like my boss. I like parts of my work. But this had been my experience for at least six months.

JUNE 2019: Took a full week off work. This was not easy. I am a type A control freak and I am alright with this. There are things I do for my job that I am very attached to, and letting go for a week was a good exercise for me. Also I got to travel to Washington DC and visit a bunch of museums. Fun trip, good experience, made me feel better about my burnout brain for exactly one week after.

JULY 2019: Started intense research on other jobs. I turned 29 and decided to give myself one year to make some major changes. I did have the startling realization that permanent true recover could not happen in my hometown. I need to change the scenery I live in for a significant amount of time.

AUGUST 2019: Breakdown. Nothing feels like it’s making me happy. All the research into other jobs is making me stressed out, not making me feel like there a way to move forward excited about life. Finally, it dawns on me: there is no job that will make me feel fulfilled. To feel this way again, I am going to have to take time off and let my brain heel. But I know how to do this! Travel! I turn my year of making changes into my year of preparing to travel long-term in SouthEast Asia! Finally, I start to feel excited about waking up again.

SEPTEMBER 2019: Create this blog. Writing is nice! I give myself the task of recording my journey and not worrying about using this space for anything other than creative expression at the moment. I also make some major steps forward in preparing for my trip:
I am 37% of the way to having no non-student loan debt!
I made appointments to start the vaccination process!
I started selling some of my things on eBay!

OCTOBER 2019: one week of scheduled do-nothing time off. Eight days of not having to wake up to an alarm! No scheduled travel time! I am going to do nothing that requires me to make money for one week. I am so excited.

I am happy with where my journey is taking me and I am looking forward to charting my progress moving forward.

What to do when you realize you are burnt out, but can’t afford to quit

YOU make a plan.

IN February 2019 I realized something was horribly wrong. I was depressed and had been depressed for months but did not know why. I dreaded getting out of bed to go to work. Doing work I used to enjoy took more effort that ever. I buried myself in credit card debt to try find some happiness. The core of the problem, I finally realized, was my job had burnt me out. My whole life was suffering because I could not find a way to make myself happy any more. I needed to make some major changes, but I knew I needed to woman-up and make a real plan to change my life.

I CALLED my therapist. I had not been going regularly for a few years and knew this needed to be my first step in fixing my life. So far, it is the kindest thing I have ever done for myself.

WE made a plan. Well, I made a plan, she let me know if I was going off the rails. My job as a data analyst was ruining me. I used to enjoy my work, loving throwing myself into a new project. My boss is still a great boss, and the idea of letting him down hurt me. But it’s my life, not his nor my parents. I needed to come up with a new plan to change. I started calling it EmilyChange2k19. Never pass up the opportunity to give your plans fun nicknames.

SO many things crossed my mind. Should I work as a paralegal for an immigration law firm? Could I afford to take the necessary pay cut to become a paralegal? Or could I become a history teacher, a profession I have always been interested in. But could I afford the additional degrees I would need? Clarity came when I realized the two things I am most passionate about: travel and helping people. Very basic, I know. But at least it was giving me some kind of framework when deciding my future.

THEN there was the elephant in the room. The debt I had gotten myself into. Credit card bills, a small personal loan, my car, my student loans. If I were to make a major change, I would need to buckle down and pay off my (non-student loan) debt as fast as possible. I created a stringent budget. I’ve always tracked my spending on an excel spreadsheet, but this time I was determined. I made my plan to be free of consumer debt by April 2020. As of 15 September 2019, I am 30% to my goal.

NO I haven’t quit my job. Nor have I fully dug myself out of debt. But I am so much closer to my goal now than in February. EmilyChange2k19 has a solid framework and a realistic schedule that will allow me to move from the corporate world into being a freelancer. These are my intentions.

  • I will pay all off non-student loan debt by April 2020
  • I will quit my corporate job by July 2020
  • I will become a digital nomad

THIS blog is where I will document my process of gaining independence. Welcome to DonaTravels: from Burnout to Bliss