Q&A with Rachel Sheerin on Banishing Burnout and Reinventing Joy

Name: Rachel Sheerin

Motivational Keynote Speaker, Event Emcee and Host of F THIS S

Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst

“To do great work, you have to love what you do, who you do it with and who you do it for. If you’ve lost that loving feeling for your work, that’s burnout—and you’re not alone.”

How did you start talking about burnout?

It’s personal. I’ve experienced burnout—I’ve lost all joy and love in my work. It was devastating—felt like someone had taken my identity and ripped it away from me. It was the darkest time in my life, and as I navigated my healing, I began to share my experiences and help others—realizing this was an epidemic in the working world that no one was talking about. Four years later, the rest is history.

How did the issue become even more urgent during Covid when the addition of uncertainty, additional responsibility such as childcare and survivor guilt were piled on that career sundae?

That’s such a stellar, heavy way to put those emotions, JT—how could one year be so many things? Burnout happens because of change—whether it be connections changing, situations changing or ourselves changing—and forcing a disconnect between what we want and what is happening. In my eyes, the question is not if burnout is happening, it’s when burnout happens, will you be prepared as a leader, organization and individual.

How can meeting professionals who are used to taking care of others, learn to take care of themselves so they can be there for their teams and attendees?

Oh, so they’re ready to admit they can’t control everything and everyone? (laughs)

The truth is that self-care looks different for everyone and oftentimes it is not as easy as a day at the spa. Taking care of ourselves in ways that are effective and tailored to our needs is vital to combating burnout because it forces us to connect and listen to ourselves with commitment the same way we would care for friends, family and clients.

My favorite suggestion is to seek out the little joys of self care that make you soak in a smile. Whether it’s pausing throughout the day to put on a great smelling lotion you got last time you were traveling, taking a moment to step outside and take some deep breaths, or breaking out the crystal glassware you normally reserve for a special occasions and treat yourself to an upgraded happy hour, whatever you enjoy in micro-self care can go a long way in adding the doses of happy into our day-to-day that keep our spirits lifted through these tough times.

What does it mean to reinvent joy in career, home and life? Can it be done in one of these at a time or do they have to tackle everything at once?

Sheesh, that’d be nice to wrap it up nice and neat! I wish I could say yes, but in today’s world, we like efficiency and productivity, which means we want to move through our to-dos quickly, especially when they’re uncomfortable—which emotions and healing burnout can be.

Instead of rushing, reinventing your joy really means kicking off a relationship with yourself as if you’re newly dating yourself. Don’t just assume you know everything about you—ask again all the questions that matter most:

  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • What dreams do you have for the future?
  • What will you not accept in a partner/leader/friend?
  • What do you value in a partner/leader/friend?
  • What legacy/impact do you want to leave behind on this planet?
  • How do you like to spend your time? Does your calendar reflect that? Why/why not?
  • How do you like to spend your money? Does your bank account reflect that? Why/why not?

In burnout, there’s beauty and opportunity in the blank space burning things down to the ground gives you—and that includes hitting the reset on those habits of overwork, have-tos and wishlists of life experiences. If you want to get married, get on the dating site now and get serious about it. If you want to get a great tan, move out of Alaska. If you want to drink a margarita with me, message me when and where!

What is your secret for finding joy regardless of the circumstances?

That would take more time (and margaritas) than we have today, but I’ll share one thing that always brings me home to joy—being grateful for what I’ve got while I’ve got it, without the expectation for tomorrow.

You see, today for example—I’m talking to you with my pup at my feet, King Sheerin in the next room and the sun is shining outside my window. I exist at the same time as WiFi, TSA pre-check and Dolly Parton. I work in the best industry in the entire world, have the coolest clients and I’ve seen a lot of wonderful events, places and things. I can see the beauty of a sunset, smell a fresh cup of coffee and taste a delicious meal. How lucky am I? How lucky are we?

There are no promises for tomorrow, but today? Joy is everywhere I’m looking. I hope everyone else sees it, too.

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