About a month ago, over lunch at a local seafood spot on the Portuguese coast, I decided to write a book about burnout.
“That’s such a great idea,” my partner agreed as he took a sip of Sagres.
I was kind of surprised he didn’t blurt out “FINALLY”, as he’s been gently pushing me to write a book for a while. (Tip for getting me to do stuff: Don’t push! Not even gently! Especially if I am in a relationship with you!)
“I want it to be really authentic, and clear, the kind of book I would have liked to have when I was going through my burnout,” I enthused. “I’m so excited.”
And I was: I’ve been toying with writing a book for most of my adult life, but aside from a short-lived attempt at a memoir, had never found a topic I felt confident enough to write on. Until now.
It all seemed so clear: a decade ago, I burnt out while working as a high-powered, ostensibly successful lawyer at one of Europe’s largest, most prestigious firms. Since then, I’ve had an amazing life. Like, not bragging, just straight up AMAZING LIFE. The kind of life that if you overheard someone at the pub describing it, you’d get jealous.
That was actually my explicit goal when I was post-burnout, working out what to do next: I wanted a life I’d be jealous of. Mission firmly accomplished.
I’d produce a book that would help people get through burnout and find a way to thrive afterwards. The title wrote itself: Lit! How to Survive and Thrive After Burnout. I started envisioning launch parties and workshopping outfit options.
One month in and I’m still excited, but also realizing what a huge undertaking this is. Because while burnout was a topic when I had mine, it’s now an epidemic.
And your burnout is not going to be resolved just by taking a week off, or using your phone less, or perfecting your morning routine (side note: I am so over frothy blogs telling me how to perfect my morning routine. My morning routine is totally fine as it is. Stop hurting its feelings!).
Why not? Because burnout might happen to the individual, but the causes are often largely cultural, systemic and insidious. It’s not you: it’s corporate greed.
So my book can’t just be a bunch of handy tips and perky ideas about how to implement more self-care in your life.
When the demands in your workplace are so hefty you can’t breathe, the last thing you need is some fuckwit telling you to use organic cleanser each evening, or take a walk during your lunch break, and expect that to solve everything.
You need something deeper. You need something you didn’t know already.
You need something that will lift your soul and empower your choices.
That’s what I’m going to write.
In the meantime, I will occasionally use this space to work out some of the issues I’m encountering as I write this book. I’d love your help, feedback and suggestions.
Thankfully I’ve always loved a challenge. And being an author is an absolutely essential part of that jealousy-inducing life I decided to live.
Let’s do this.