Here as we approach the end of the year, the end of our Powerhouse Entrepreneur Program – even the end of a life chapter for many of us – a special gift you can give yourself this time of year is tune into how you “do endings.”
I once had a colleague who warned me upfront that the way she does endings is to ‘burn down the whole bridge while slamming the door on her way out.’ It was surprising information at the time, given the grounded, loving woman I knew at the time… but I *wasn’t* surprised when that’s exactly how she ended our professional relationship the next year.
Endings make people do WEIRD SHIT.
Sometimes it can make us swing in polar opposite directions from one second to the next… one second we are feeling sad, desperate, clingy, and try to seek ways to stay needed by the ones we care about… and the next, we ‘walk away’ (dramatically for some of us, or others like that Homer Simpson gift where you just disappear in plain sight) before we can get hurt or disappointed.
I’ve observed four different kinds of ‘exit strategies’ during my thousands of hours of coaching… and what those people might consider practicing if they want to try something different this time around.
Which one are you?
The HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT Type
Signs this is you:
- You feel deeply overwhelmed.
- You’re experiencing BIG feelings, but may not know how or have space to express them.
- You’re self-isolating from friends and communities, discretely disappearing under the guise of “Things are good, I’m just busy!”
- You’re a little resigned about the the fact that didn’t hit some of your goals, and when you think about going all the way through to the finish line, you’d rather just stop here at “good enough.”
We’ve probably all been this way at some ending or another. We run out of gas before the end, and instead of finding ways to fuel back up and cross the bridge to the other side with support, well-being, and commitment, we just sorta melt into a puddle or disappear in plain sight.
It’s ok, there’s no judgment here.
There’s just power in awareness.
So what to do if this is you?
Here’s what I’d suggest:
- Create more space to express and fully feel your feelings (preferably before they spray out everywhere and on everyone!). This type can sometimes slowly morph into Type #2 that you’re about to read, so if you don’t address those feelings soon, they’ll take over.
- Get support from others on breaking down priorities into manageable steps, or even just including your circle in what you’ve got on your plate. The more you try to lone-wolf through it, the lonelier you will feel.
- A small practice: when people in your circle ask how you’re doing, actually answer the question. Connect to your body in that moment, and share so you can get reconnected to your people.
- Throw out the “all or nothing” attitude towards your goal and keep going 1% more every day. You didn’t get this far just to quit the marathon at mile 26. Most likely, you’re just around the corner from some serious magic… you just have to take one step at a time to see it.
The SELF-HATE CENTRAL Type
Signs this is you:
- You’re frustrated by all that’s not getting done, and maybe even peeved at yourself for undone tasks or unmet goals.
- Your solution to channeling that frustration/anger: push harder, do more.
- You’ve got a short fuse with yourself and others – and your worst enemy is wasted time.
- At the end of the day, you convince yourself you just don’t want to be a really big failure… you’re trying to close the gap with little to no hope you’ll actually succeed. (I.e. You have no access to celebrating your wins and progress made, so you feel like you’ve got something to prove.)
I was *this* close to choosing a gif of the Scrooge from A Christmas Carol, given the time of year we’re in…
This type of “doing endings” occurs when your feelings have been stacking and stacking and stacking without much real release. You may have started out as the first type – overwhelmed, stressed, big feelings inside – but you chose to power through. Sometimes this is necessary in life, but we must also recognize there are ripple effects from this choice. And unfortunately, most often we turn those consequences on ourselves.
If you find yourself in a cycle of blame-gaming – beating yourself up or wanting to point fingers at others for stuff that’s not going right – then take the cue and put these on your to-do list this week.
- Two words: RAGE ROOM. Take those feelings out on some old junk, not on yourself or the people around you. Smash some shit. I promise you’ll feel better.
- Prioritize some different forms of self-care – maybe the usual rituals just don’t cut it right now, and look for activities that fill you up (whether it’s an evening Hallmark movie, more rage room sessions, singing in your shower/car, tackling that DIY project you’ve been putting off, or crocheting a scarf for a friend… get creative!).
- Release the attachment to your measure of success and focus on:
- Setting winnable games (i.e. goals you are actually committed to playing for in the time you have left this year that DON’T cost you your sanity)
- Experimenting with strategies you haven’t tried yet to see if you get results you’ve never gotten before
- Lean towards support, not away from it. Your true inner circle understands you do this thing when you get stressed, so don’t feel like you need to put your tail between your legs and hide. Make amends if you’ve been short or snippy, and then let them know what you’ve been really feeling.
The TOO BUSY TO FEEL Type
Signs this is you:
- Feelings? What feelings? I’m fine. Everything’s fine.
- The only thing that makes you happy lately is getting things accomplished.
- You’ve limited contact with your support system, and more often focus the conversation on how others are doing and how you can cheer them up or help them.
- Self-care, who?
Hello there, my dear Givers and Martyrs. It’s lovely to see you here, slowing down for a moment for yourself.
Remember that sense of spaciousness and serenity you’ve said you want, but somehow keep finding a way to clutter your time and energy?
You are the type of person who makes magic happen when you have the space to get creative, find your joy, and move and meditate.
You’ve been riding out the fuel you stored up earlier this fall, knowing this time of year would be busy for you… and although things may be “fine” right now, your gas light is moments from turning on and you’re MILES from a gas station.
It feels comforting to stay in motion, because slowing down might mean you come to a full stop. But remember, life doesn’t exist in black and white. Slowing down doesn’t mean you lose all your momentum. In fact, as counterintuitive as it sounds, it’ll probably help you speed up in the end.
So what should you implement?
Here’s where I’d start.
- Although everything in you is screaming “Just keep moving,” find pockets, and then baskets, and then if you’re really ambitious TRUCKLOADS of space to breathe. You’re running away from your feelings, my friend, and those feelings WILL catch up with you at some point… scaling up the self-checkins will help you not feel like you’ve been run over by Santa’s reindeer when it’s all over.
- Remember: your worth is not in what you do, finish, accomplish, or give others. ‘Doing your best’ also means treating yourself with tender love and care. Try doing less, and notice that the important things still get done somehow.
- Let people be with all of you – you don’t have to have it all together for people to love you. All of you is loveable. Allow yourself to receive as much (or more!) than you’re giving to others. It might blow your mind how much love, space, and serenity are available to you right now.
- Self-care is not one more thing to add to your to-do list. It is the paper and pen you use to write that list… it is the whole reason a to-do list can exist. Put yourself first in your mornings, and gift yourself some luxurious time and self-love.
The FUCK IT, WHO CARES? Type
Signs this is you:
- You have checked out on goals and giving fucks – none of it really matters anyway, right?
- Two words: Burnt. Out.
- Your downtime is all about the ‘unwind.’ Whether it’s food, drinking, complaining, bingeing TV, doom scrolling… numbing out is the name of the game right now.
- You feel depressed and empty, but you may be wearing a convincing mask for others during the day, which takes it ALL out of you by the end of the day.
First of all, hi friend. I’m sorry you’re feeling shitty. I have completely been here, and you are not at all alone in this experience.
Burnout is a unique circumstance, especially when coupled with depression.
The name of the game here is Grace.
Bullying yourself into anything isn’t going to help. It may get a few more things done, but it’s only going to make the hole deeper to climb out of if you don’t address it sooner rather than later.
That’s not to say you need to black-and-white things between fully-on and fully-off. Maybe you can practice operating inside your responsibilities at 30%, and reserve the rest of your energy for nourishment, fun, and relaxation until you feel like you have more to give. And even then, you can raise the gradient by 5-10% at a time… nothing extreme is needed here. You’re just looking to find the sweet spot where what you are pouring into your own cup doesn’t immediately get fully dumped into what you’re giving to others or your work.
So here’s where I’d start:
- Instead of only numbing or distracting as your form of “unwinding” or self-care, try incorporating things that actually put fuel back in your tank. Spend alone time with yourself doing things you love, and/or with people you love. Like I said in an earlier type, get creative with your self-care – sing your favorite carols or holiday tunes, tinker on that DIY project you look forward to, take a long daily walk with your pup, learn to embroider… the possibilities are endless.
- Acknowledge the burnout and depression out loud, with your circle and a professional coach or therapist, ideally. It’s ok that you are exactly where you are – and letting people know will give them the chance to be there for you.
- Give yourself 3 small wins every day, and relate to them as full on parade-and-fireworks-worthy wins. Some days, the wins might be bigger or smaller than others… but consider chunking it up into 3 categories: (1) something for yourself, (2) something for others, (3) something for your business/career. Giving and receiving are things that bring us back to ourselves, so prioritize those and you might surprise yourself what capacity you have to take one step forward every day.
Whether you’re ending this year Hiding in Plain Sight, in Self-Hate Central, Too Busy to Feel, or fully in Fuck It, just know that what you’re experiencing is the normalest of normal.
Everyone has weird stuff show up when we approach endings, especially year-ends. Not to mention, for many of us this is winter and our intake of sunshine, fresh air, and exercise has been impacted by our environment… so our bodies and minds get tangled into a bit of a knot.
I hope that, firstly, this new awareness you gain about yourself gives you something to notice moving forward, since awareness is the first step to changing any pattern. And secondly, I hope these suggestions give you an empowering place to start breaking that pattern and coming back to center.