The idea of getting tired or burning out is something that has been talked about a lot in recent years, particularly in the context of mental health, rest and self-care. These aren’t things I’m necessarily opposed to in themselves but I do wonder if there is another side to this conversation. Because in my experience it’s been good for me to get tired for the right things.

One of the criticisms that is sometimes given to this generation from those who have gone before us is that is lazy. But I wonder if what appears to be (whether accurate or not) laziness is in fact about fear. We don’t live in a lazy generation but in a fearful one. There is a worry that when we reach the end of ourselves, we may find ourselves burning out.

The end of yourself is a good place to be

But the truth is that at the end of yourself is where you will find an increased capacity. You’ll never have a breakthrough without pushing against your natural limits. And you can’t ever grow unless you’re willing to expand your capacity. Tiredness is a sign that you’re moving into a brand new season and enlarging who you are.

All of my personal growth has come from people challenging me to do more than I thought I could. It was difficult at the time but I’m grateful for it – it’s made me who I am today. In our well-intentioned desire to protect people from burning out or otherwise, we’ve actually negated this idea of going all in. But we all know that nothing significant has ever been accomplished in this world without real sacrifice.

Life is more than just holidays and brunch

I’m reluctant to trust the opinions of those around us in social media and popular culture who make it look like life is supposed to be a breeze. Or equally try to discourage us from ever feeling uncomfortable or challenging the status quo of thinking. Endless holidays and brunch in Shoreditch is painted as this picture of utopia that will satisfy your soul. I’m very much for a good holiday and a big fan of good food. But that’s not where all of the growth takes place. Life isn’t supposed to be easy and much of our frustration is not with life itself but the mismatch of what we see projected around us contrasted with our own reality.

Pursuing the wrong stuff will cause burnout

There is a catch though. When we’re living in pursuit of things that do not fulfil us, we increase the risk of burnout. Material success, money, approval of others or even pleasure itself are high-value targets for many today. In themselves, these are nice things to have (I’m partial to a good book and a flat white) but as a goal of life these things leave you with a strange sense of emptiness and longing for something more.

I believe you have to find something of higher value that lasts beyond the temporary. And when you seek out such things and live for such a purpose, you’ll find that you won’t burn out but you’ll tap into a second wind and healthy growth.

Live for something bigger than yourself

Jesus famously says that to seek first the kingdom of God leads to all the other things you need in life being taken care of. In my experience, trying to live out that concept has enlarged my life. I feel like I’m doing more than I’ve done before, not just professionally but in family life and my relational world too and yet I’m more full of energy than I’ve ever been before.

Whatever your take on the spiritual, when the pursuit of your life is solely about you and your happiness, you’ll find your energy levels will be depleted. When you live for something greater that expresses itself in the loving and lifting of others around you, it’s a recipe for true success. Learn to embrace tiredness, discomfort, frustration and you’ll go far.

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