Navigating Burnout: Lessons from My Web Development Adventure
Hello everyone 👋,
You read an article or a Tweet on how someone becomes successful. That person's journey then becomes a motivation for you.
If they can do it, I can do it too!
Nothing wrong with that. In fact, it's a good thing. Motivation is one of the factors that keep us going.
But one thing that we often forget, most of those successful stories also come with struggles.
And we tend to focus on the after stories, not the struggles.
Some people avoid sharing their struggles and have their reasons for doing that.
But we all know that there is no rainbow without rain. There is no going up without being at the bottom at one point.
This post would be different than my other posts. I honestly hesitated to write, let alone publish, this article. However, I decided to share my recent experience as a self-note and reminder for myself. And as a lesson for you to acknowledge when to take some breaks.
I've been through a massive burnout not long ago.
I'm saying massive because it almost made me want to quit my learning journey.
Does it surprise you? Well, it did surprise me for sure.
All those years I put into learning could've been gone only in one day.
I've experienced burnout before. But I usually start fresh with some days of break (or procrastination).
This time it was different. Taking a break didn't make me feel better.
It started with me having a hard time understanding some concepts. Then I forgot many things I'd learned and done quite a lot before.
I had imposter syndrome and got so frustrated that it led me to think of quitting.
What caused the massive burnout?
It was a smooth start for me at the beginning of framework learning. So I forgot that this journey is a marathon, not a sprint. I was rushing things. I wanted to add more and more to learn until I got stuck at one point.
I noticed that I started to get frustrated. But instead of taking a proper break, I pushed through because I didn't want to lose the momentum. I asked questions, and I even got some mentoring from some friends. I got some light after the mentoring sessions, but I got confused again. And I was too embarrassed to ask for more help, mainly because I wanted to ask for help on the same topic.
At the same time, many people I know got new jobs.
I'm super happy for them, but I also felt I was still far behind. And that was also one of the reasons I wanted to rush things.
Rushing myself to learn things.
Ignoring the signs of burnout.
Not taking a proper break.
Not sharing my struggles.
Comparing myself to other people.
Those are the things that led me to massive burnout.
How to survive a massive burnout?
It would be different for each person, but here is what I did:
1. Read the signs and take a step back
I did notice the signs of frustration, but I kept pushing through because I didn't want to lose momentum.
Instead of being in the momentum, it pushed me away even further.
Take a step back when you read the signs of frustration or burnout. You won't lose your momentum. You're recharging yourself to go further with more energy. Whatever you do, it won't go anywhere, waiting for you to return.
Though it was a bit late, I took a step back and took a break.
2. Take a break
What I emphasize here is not to feel guilty when you decide to take a break. Let your mind off from your learning, work, and be present. Have fun!
My mistake was that when I took a break, I felt guilty for having a day or more off from learning. I did things that were supposed to make me feel better, but my mind kept telling me, "Why can't I understand it? Why am I doing this while I should learn and try harder?"
I got much better after taking one week off from learning without feeling guilty.
Taking a real break from whatever you do is essential for your mental health.
3. Share the struggle
I finally shared my struggle with some friends. Surprisingly, I wasn't the only one frustrated in not understanding what I was learning.
After doing that, I felt the enormous burden lifted from my shoulders, and I got my motivation back.
Struggling is not a sign of weakness or being defeated. It's one of the learning processes that many people are experiencing at one point in their journey.
Don't feel embarrassed. Do share your struggles.
People around you can only give support if you tell them what's happening. And a bonus to that, you could get back your motivation.
4. Change the mindset
After I shared my struggles, one of my friends told me this.
Change your mindset from learning or doing to experimenting.
You could get frustrated and stressed when you learn something and don't get it. Or, you could encounter imposter syndrome when you do a project and get stuck.
But with the mindset of experimenting, all you need to do is try until you understand. Until whatever you do works.
No scientist knows how to produce a vaccine for a new virus in the beginning.
They do research, many experiments, and tests until they find one.
The experimenting mindset develops a sense of curiosity rather than failure.
I like this mindset. I started to apply this recently, and it makes me feel everything is all right, even on my bad day!
5. Compare to no one and celebrate more
Gentle reminder: Everyone's journey is different and unique.
I can't compare myself to someone who can put more time into learning than I.
I better not compare myself to someone who can understand things faster than me.
I can only compare where I am now and where I was before.
Seeing where I was 2.5 years ago and now where I understand much more things than a single line of HTML is enormous progress. And I completely forget that!
And now, instead of beating myself up for being slow, I'm learning from my friends who got the jobs. I asked how they got there and what we needed to get there. Experiences are the best teacher, not only ours but also other people's. And I'm fortunate to have friends who share their experiences so I can learn from them.
You (and I) should celebrate more. Celebrate our accomplishments! It doesn't matter how small it is!
I could encounter another burnout in the future. If that time comes, I will reflect on this post and remind myself that I was there before and survived.
I hope this could help you as well if you're in the same situation as I did 😊
Did you find this article valuable?
Support Leonard Pădurean by becoming a sponsor. Any amount is appreciated!