Tell me if this sounds familiar: You used to love, and I mean LOVE, photography.
You’d take pictures of everything and if money were no object, you’d have done it for free for the rest of your life.
You know what that’s like don’t you? The rush of finding a creative outlet and the pure excitement that comes with creating something really awesome and showing all your friends… when you’re freely creating and soaking in every second of it?
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome.
Maybe it’s not photography for you. Maybe it’s painting, or singing, or writing, or something else.
But for simplicity sake, let’s take this example a little further.
As you continued perfecting your craft, you began to get requests to shoot your friends weddings, then friends of friends weddings, and then before you knew it, your passion had turned into a full time job!
And you loved it. You were waking up everyday doing what you love, right?
Then, a few years go by and you’re managing a full blown business – sending invoices, contracts, shooting every weekend, managing money, figuring out taxes, etc.
Slowly, overtime, you begin to burn out on the whole thing.
If it was just the photography piece, you’d probably enjoy it. But throw in all the WORK of running it as a business and the passion and love for the art of photography begins to get lost in it all.
I get it. It’s easy to burn out on something you once
loved when that love becomes a job.
I’ve experienced this in several creative areas… from writing, to bible journaling, and more.
So, how do we avoid it? How do we get back into something we love after we’ve burned out on it?
I’ve found a 3 step system in my own creative work that can be so, so helpful.
Ready for it?
Step 1: Schedule and Take a Sabbatical
Step 2: Find a Way to Do It for Yourself After Your Break
Step 3: Shift What You Monetize Or Outsource What You Don’t Love Doing
Let’s break this down.
Step 1: Schedule and Take a Sabbatical
When I’ve burned out on creative passions of my own before, it’s usually because I was doing them as a job non-stop.
When you’re building your own career, it’s hard to take breaks because it can feel like the whole weight of everything is on your shoulders. If you stop, the business stops, and if the business stops, you don’t pay rent, you end up on the street and if you end up on the street, your friends all see you as a mega-failure and you don’t eat, and if you don’t eat, you don’t live.
Dramatic, I know. But that’s just truly how it can seem when you’re creating your own thing out of nothing!
But here’s what I’ve had to learn over the years: me taking a break (an actual break, not just a Sunday afternoon to nap) will not ruin my business, especially if I can plan and prepare ahead of time.
My blog will not stop being read because I’m not actively sitting there creating new content 24/7.
And the same is true for you with what you do.
This year, we’ve made it a non-negotiable to schedule in a two week no-work vacation. We’ve chosen to schedule this way in advance because we knew if we didn’t, we wouldn’t prepare for it and I’d never feel “ready” to make it happen.
Schedule your sabbaticals into your year – whether you take a shorter weekend vacation / road-trip once a quarter, one long vacation halfway through the year, or whatever other structure works for you.
Step 2: Find a Way to Do It for Yourself After Your Break
Several years ago, I shared a random post on instagram showing my unique highlighting method when it came to taking notes and studying in my journaling bible.
Y’all. People went nuts over it.
I began to get requests to come teach workshops on it at churches, requests for tutorial videos, ebook guides, courses, and more.
I loved the craft and it has blessed my life so much that I said, YES!
It excited me to share a passion of mine with others.
At the time, I didn’t plan on it becoming such a big part of my job. It was just me sharing something that I enjoyed with the world. A unique, creative method. Simple as that.
But once I shared it, it quickly evolved into a job and before I knew it, I started to find that I wasn’t even enjoying the very thing that was so special to me…
Plus, since it had to do with the bible, people often expected me to be a bible teacher, too.
Which, for a season, I tried to do so as not to let anyone down. But regardless of how much praise I got for it or how much demand there was, I quickly realized that was not my path — at least not as a job.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the bible and my faith. I love helping others in this area.
But when it became a job seemingly overnight, I basically lost my love for it.
I spent months wrestling with that. It was as if there was this guilt in me…
Shouldn’t I WANT to teach people the Bible? Isn’t that, like, my duty as a Christian? Isn’t that what a good Christian girl would do?
After seeking a lot of counsel and struggling through it for over a year, I finally realized that the pressure to stick with that as a JOB wasn’t coming from God. It was coming from myself and my fear of what others would think if I stopped doing that as a job.
So I had a decision to make. What was MOST important to me? My love for my ultimate source of Truth (the Bible)… or having a job around it?
I voted for the former – I’d rather have a healthy relationship with God and an authentic faith than live under the pressure to make that a job.
So I chose to take a step back from sharing and creating on it so much, and after taking a little break, focused my energy on studying and reading it for myself alone.
And you know what happened? Everything changed for the better!
The moment I stopped reading the Bible to create content or make a video but instead just for myself and my own heart, I actually began to soak it up again.
And anything I did share something about it publicly came from a place of overflow rather than from a sense of obligation.
Crazy how that works, huh?
This is a tough example because it’s so deeply personal and spiritual but my point is…regardless of what the subject is, I know it can be so easy to burn out on something you once loved when it becomes a job.
And that’s when you have to ask yourself — do I want to or need to do this as a job? Is this a passion I need to monetize? Or, how can I focus on this and do this for myself without the pressure to do it for everyone else?
If it’s photography for you, find a way to get behind the camera FOR FUN and for YOU alone.
If it’s writing, I dare you to write creatively about the last year of your life with the intention to share it with NO ONE.
If it’s hairstyling, take a break from it and try to perfect a new technique just for fun. Get creative with it and don’t feel the pressure to post a tutorial on Instagram or offer it to your clients.
Just do it for fun and for your soul.
Step 3: If you STILL feel burned out, consider how
you can pivot so you don’t lose your passion
Okay, this might be the most important of all the steps (but must come after you go through steps 1 and 2).
Like I touched on with the Bible journaling example, I realized that doing it as a “job” wasn’t really fitting me like I thought it was supposed to.
But I knew I didn’t want to just stop reading or living by the Bible in my work or businesses.
So, I thought… “Hmm, maybe instead of dropping it all together, I could pivot back to my creative small business roots (since my whole journey began with an Etsy shop + a blog) and keep the Bible as my foundation, weaving it into my work and sharing it organically.”
It felt like the best way to preserve by love for the Bible AND my natural aptitude for small business.
To protect my heart and soul from burning out on what’s most important to me (my faith), I took steps to change what my “job” was so that I could get back into what I love without the pressure.
Now, I teach social media and audience growth to entrepreneurs at business conferences, teach on time management and ownership at personal development conferences, and more.
AND I LOVE both my work, and the Bible, again.
I encourage you to do the same for whatever it is for you – if there’s a change you can make to preserve what you love most, make it. Whether that’s a role you can outsource so that you’re not doing it as a full time job (such as shooting weddings as a photographer), then do that. If it’s not, consider switching up what you’re monetizing!
Not overnight, of course, but consider making a pivot so that the thing you love or that’s so close to your heart, doesn’t feel so much like a burden.
Let’s go with the photography example. If you’re burned out on shooting, can you hire an associate photographer to shoot weddings for you so that you can get back into what you love?
Or, if you’ve already done that but the ‘running a photography business’ is what’s weighing on you and making you want nothing to do with a camera, can you switch up what you’re monetizing?
In other words, instead of ‘photography’ being the job, could you consider education or consulting for photographers?
Consider alllll the other skills you’ve acquired through doing photography (just like I did through doing blogging and bible journaling – building social media communities, etc.) and how you might be able to make THAT part the “job” so that you can back into and preserve what’s really sacred and special to you (taking incredible photos) without feeling the pressure of getting paid to do it.
Now I want to hear from you!
Have you ever burned out on something you once loved? How did you get back into it?
Tell me in the comments below!
January 27, 2020