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  • Writer's pictureThe Reluctant Achiever

Stop the World, I Want to Get Off! Time to step off or risk burnout...

Time to step off or risk burn out. Picture split vertically, one side shows a shirt and tie with fire in the place of a head. The other half shows a woman wearing a blindfold about to step off a cliff

Whether you’re building your dream, someone else’s, or both, it’s easy to get carried away on the tide. For centuries we’ve been told that working hard is the key to:

  • Making a good living

  • Being respected

  • Leaving a legacy we can be proud of

  • Getting closer to God

No wonder hoards of us are happy to nearly kill ourselves in the process!

We’re bombarded by ideas about the perfect home, the perfect career, and all those shiny things we should aspire to own.

You might be chasing a flashy car, a 6-figure salary, or your dream home.

Whatever you want, know that it comes at a cost that’s not always monetary.

Often the main sacrifice is time.

Fun days out with your loved ones

Relaxing evenings reading your favourite book or watching a show you adore

And taking care of your health and wellbeing

are pushed to the backseat as you beat yourself into ticking off an impossibly long to-do list.

But what use will the thing you’re craving be if your health and happiness are in tatters when you get there?

Did you ever see that episode of Grand Designs where a family had a lovely big house by the sea? Granted the house needed modernising. It was a tad 1970s monstrosity. But the kids were in 7th heaven walking out the door and diving straight into the sea. Absolute bliss!

So the parents, more the dad really, decided it would be a great idea to demolish the house and build something spectacular in its place. The catalogue of drama that unfolded was heartbreaking. The family ran up debts that would make even a merchant banker cry. The house took years to finish, the couple divorced due to the stress and the kids had grown up and flown the nest long before it was ready.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying give up on your dreams — far from it.

What I’m suggesting is that you take the time to step back. To reset. And to remind yourself of what’s important. Be curious {and critical}. 

What are your priorities really?

Woman looking up at a clear board covered in post-it notes of various colours.

Being laser-focused on what you want is incredible. It takes some of us years to zoom in on that {some of us never will}. Make a plan and execute it to make your dream a reality — now you’re really starting to stand out from the masses.

But getting there in one piece is another story…

The tiny percentage of the population that actually achieve their goals with their sanity, health and relationships intact understand the risks as well as the rewards.

They know that if they want to succeed, they’re in this for the long haul. And defining those priorities from the outset and making them non-negotiable, is well non-negotiable…

Let’s Talk About Burnout

You don’t need to be an internet wizard to get the facts on burnout. 

“8 out of 10 employees at risk of burnout this year.”

“69% of remote workers report an increased risk of burnout.”

“One in five took time off last year due to stress.”

These were the first three quotes from reputable sources I found via a Google search about burnout in 2024. Scary stuff!

Woman with head in hands surrounded by hands of people demanding her time and attention

Corporations are starting to open conversations and walking the very slow walk to change. Some SMEs are already super switched on. Others will follow grudgingly. And despite the renewed focus on the problem, we are still a country mile from a global solution to this ever-growing issue.

Yes, we need understanding, empathy and engagement from employers, but when did waiting for someone else to do it for you ever provide a satisfactory {or at least timely} outcome?

The only surefire way to avoid the effects of burnout is to take control ourselves. Don’t worry,  I get it. Even acknowledging we are at risk of burnout can be a scary prospect.

If you’re a doer, letting go of the reigns and allowing someone else to take charge for a while is daunting to the power of 10. Make that power of 100 if you’re feeling insecure in your current postion.

And if you live to please, learning to say ‘no’ can feel like climbing a 5,000-metre summit without oxygen.

Control freaks may even need to figuratively tie their hands behind their backs to allow their nearest and dearest to lend a helping hand.

But here’s the thing…

Even baby steps can make a huge difference. And the first tiny step to hitting that reset button is to TAKE A BREAK!

Little boy lying down on the floor with hands behind his head, taking a break!

This week I’m doing just that.

For the past 6 weeks or so, my life has been a complete whirlwind. Juggling running and growing a business with some important family challenges has left me feeling physically and emotionally exhausted.

I recognised the signs of burnout early. Waking in the night with a thousand things running around in my brain. That familiar clench in my jaw. The inability to ‘switch off’.

We’ve had this holiday booked for months. Half of me was screaming that I shouldn’t go. The timing is all wrong. I should stay and see things through. Keep pushing forward. Get things done.

But the other half…

Thank heaven for the other half! The reasonable half. The half that has my own best interests at heart knew that I needed a timeout much, much more.

Getting away. Just a few short miles has made all the difference.

On Saturday, we drove an hour west to pick up a narrowboat. The 45-foot craft is now our home for a week. And despite being barely a stone’s throw from home, we couldn’t be further from our ‘normal’. We’re navigating the canals of central England in peace and tranquillity with no agenda and no timetable, other than delivering the boat back to its owner in a few days.

View from the canal over field to a stately home and farm in the distance on a sunny day.

As I sit here I’m listening to the birds sing. I’m looking at trees and flowers and wondering what I’ll have for tea. I spot a heron stooping over the water looking for its next catch. Weeping willows brush the top of the boat and sunbeams glint through the leaves.

Our pace of life has gone from breakneck to tea break.

It’s given me space to breathe and to remind myself we’ll get there whether I’m stressed or not {preferably not}. Everything will get done and everyone will be okay, including me.

I have people to thank for stepping in and allowing me the time to reset. You know who you are, thank you!

By returning refreshed and ready for what’s to come, I’ll be better prepared to serve them too.

Sunset shot from the stern of the narrowboat as we glide along the canal.

What can you do to take a step back today?

I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line at or subscribe to my mailing list for more musings and sideline cheering from The Reluctant Achiever.

Much love and encouragement,

The Reluctant Achiever xx

The Reluctant Achiever is written by freelance copywriter, lifelong learner, outdoor lover and personal development junkie, Wendy Ann Jones.

For further information on working with Wendy, please check out or follow her on LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook.

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