Woman works on laptop in coffeeshop as young son looks on.


Burnout Not Required To Be A Successful, Working Parent

Nov 25, 2019

It was only a couple of years ago — months into launching my business — when I found myself drained, defeated and desperately willing to get back to the sustainable approach to work I had finally established in the years before having kids.

My drive to succeed made almost anything other than my venture feel like a distraction.

Yet, here I was, back in the burnout; sleeping maybe four to five hours a night instead of my usual seven, and no longer prioritizing working out — which always made me feel better. I even looked at spending time with my two sons as an obstacle to getting my work done. Rereading that last part makes me cringe today but, at the time, this was the state of my mind. Like a true overachiever, I was singularly focused on growing my business, and earning six figures in my first year of launching it. My drive to succeed made almost anything other than my venture feel like a distraction. And yet, I knew I was out of control. I could feel the tension in my body and realized something had to shift.

One afternoon, the day before my first public appearance at a much-anticipated event to promote my business, I developed a rash. What started out as an itchy patch on my upper leg slowly developed into full-blown shingles. Shingles can cause a terribly painful skin reaction due to a viral infection, often brought on by stress, and most typical in older adults. I was 39 at the time, and otherwise very healthy. 

So, why the rash? 

I had been burning the candle on both ends and ignoring the warning signs.

Here's Another Mom's POVI’m Still A Struggling Mom Even Though My Kids Are Older

For much of my life, I only had one setting when it came to achievement: full tilt. No matter what was required, I would let all other life priorities fall away in pursuit of achieving excellence in academics and my career. About five years before having kids, my high-achieving hustle led me to a burnout so real and raw that I was forced to replace the addiction to my intense and high-stress working life with a more sustainable, mindful way of living and working. Almost instantly, I found a new joy, freedom and fulfillment in discovering a more balanced pace and ease in my life.

I’m still a highly-driven human wanting to have the highest impact in my work, but my hunger for outward achievement has now been replaced with a profound need to honour other life priorities in a mindfully productive way. 

So, what exactly does this mean and how do I make this concrete for myself?

One of the ways I stay mindfully productive today is to be clear on my values. Without a clear sense of my core priorities and values, I may not be able to mitigate burnout. Since my default is to go hard and push through everything to get the job done, I need to lean deeply into my values to keep myself accountable to other priorities.

Another way I’m able to fend off burnout these days is to recognize my warning signs. For me, these signs manifest in late-night snacking, staying up past bedtime or skipping workouts. When these behaviours show up, I know that I have to come back to my daily non-negotiables to keep me grounded.

Another Worthwhile Read From Natalie Ruskin: Embracing Failure In Front Of My Kids As A Way To Demonstrate Resilience

And finally, I check my mindset. I need to be aware of what my self-talk is and consciously replace it with a productive and positive track. Instead of, “if I’m not feeling stressed, I’m not accomplishing anything,” I tell myself, “I will move through my day with a clear purpose and my priorities stay right-sized.”

My greatest enforcers, helping me stay conscious of my tendency to overdo, are my three- and five-year-old sons. When they see me darting around the house a mile-a-minute, trying to do just one more thing, they command me to join them in their world of play, wonder and love. Once I become willing to descend into their universe, I am almost immediately reminded about what matters most.

Article Author Natalie Ruskin
Natalie Ruskin

Read more from Natalie here.

Natalie Ruskin is a coach who champions purpose-driven moms to discover their full capacity and confidence, helping them grow their vision of success so that they can find greater fulfillment — without burning out. Natalie supports a thriving community of like-minded moms who are having maximum impact in their work while staying mindful of other priorities like self-care and motherhood. Natalie spent 10 years in corporate as a CBC Producer and had to reconcile her inner hustle with a more sustainable way to operate. As a mom to two young boys and running her own business, Natalie’s mission is to help like-minded corporates, entrepreneurs and consultants OWN their full power in a way where they thrive, grow and earn their full worth. You can follow Natalie’s authentic tales on how to grow a vision, mindfully, on Instagram @mindfulmotivator. You can read more about Natalie and upcoming events at natalieruskin.com.

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