How Intent can Prevent Burnout

Have you ever considered connecting your heart to your mind, as means to prevent burnout? Intent can be used to combat feelings of burnout.

I recently facilitated an executive team through strategic planning session.  The context for their need was realistically allowing a one year window for turn-around. The month before the scheduled session had been packed with back-to-back delivery and consulting/coaching.   I was physically and mentally drained from the work intensity and travelling.  I remember stating to my husband, “I really don’t feel like doing this”. We then started a conversation about why I should be doing this.  And in unpacking the mix of reasons, which there were numerous, one reason became paramount.

The reality was that the client was in dire need to assistance, and that I knew I could be of assistance. The implication of any delay or of ‘not-doing’ the planning session was even more concerning.  Any downscaling or closure would have impact on 140 people.  At that moment I made the conscious choice to do the session, not for the managers in the room, but for those not in the room.  I boarded my flight, got to Johannesburg at 10pm, and was on my way to the session by 6.15am the next morning.  We worked from 7.30am and I switched off my computer at 11.30pm that night. Having sent off the agreements and planning documentation formulated during the session.

My intention was the element that gave me energy and focus. My physical and mental state did not give me the energy and focus I required.

Intent is purposeful

To act intentionally, means to act on purpose. One’s intent is a decision. It is a deliberate and explicit choice. This choice changes how one engages and it may even change the outcome. In the end, it is the only thing we can actually choose in the moment.

This started the exploration into notion that burn-out may well be a function of mis-aligned intent and action.  “its like swimming upstream” (ES) that burns us out. This exploration has subsequently confirmed that in fact, misalignment of action and intent contributes significantly to burnout or the like.

Find the Energy, prevent the Burnout

As I go through my day, I begin to assess my energy, and simultaneously check-in what my real intent is (in the moment).  The expression of intent, as opposed to the actual intent, is important.  It is the actual intent that is realised in the moment, that impacts on one’s energy.

There are some ordinary moments, like a mother who manages to tend to her family despite being sick. And then some extraordinary moments, like those who maintain focus and energy through years of abuse and criticism, when the future of their children is threatened.

I asked a friend who was going through the latter, what it was that made her get through it, and get through each day with sanity and focus.  She said: “I had no choice, my kids’ lives were on the line”. She defined her reasoning with such a ‘matter-of-fact’ certainty. Her energy and focus had nothing to do with her personally, but with something she considered bigger and more important.

We find the ‘energy’, the will, the drive to do what is important, and typically what is important extends beyond immediate self interest.  The most ordinary can converted into the extraordinary, by the extension of one’s will.  The smallest quantum, that refines the highest parts of the human being and awareness.

To read more about refining awareness, please look at Care & Growth

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