Is corporate burnout killing creativity?
Creative flair is a blessing to most who are lucky enough to have it flowing through their veins. But every so often comes a period where that mastery is…well, lacking some flair.
Recently I discussed this very phenomenon with a dear friend of mine, Tegan. One half of the masterminds behind Dish Island, the fabulous culinary podcast that interviews Australian authors, chefs and so much more.
While we delighted our taste buds with linguine alle vongole and a cheeky sparkling a few weeks ago, I couldn't help but notice that we were both so flat. Usually there was more banter, a flamboyant discussion of haute couture yet somehow all we both managed was feeble small talk. It was abhorrent! We weren’t those women, we had the southeast influence in our bones, we loved a good yarn and a vino or two. After the arancini balls were devoured and the long wait between entree and mains descended upon us, I realised what had plagued us: we were facing burnout.
The dreaded ‘b’ word that was once so rarely discussed, if at all, had claimed us. We were both working demanding, albeit fulfilling day jobs whilst still working on the passion projects we were known for and in my case, still attending classes for my masters and looking after my daughter.
It wasn’t possible, I’d had contingencies in place to safeguard my mind from the dreaded burnout but the more we descended into our discussion, the more I understood how it happened. Each of us take on certain responsibilities we can’t forego, then there’s the next set of the ‘nice to haves’ and then the ones I like think of as a bit showy offy.Usually, maintaining all these tasks is doable and very rarely cause for concern but in the post-Covid world of learning to slow down and revaluate, I too had changed. What I'd been able to do in the past, no longer worked in my present. Something had to change and it was more than mindset.
“Csikszentmihalyi notes that a playful attitude is one of the hallmarks of creativity, but this light-heartedness and excitement is also mirrored by a paradoxical trait: perseverance.” Kendra Cherry writes. So, there was psychology behind it, people with the aptitude for creativity such as artists, musicians, actors, and writers work in a certain way and need certain things to fulfil their soul. This perseverance to their craft meant that anything external to that, i.e. work that stifles the creativity can be detrimental not only to the artform but also the mental health. I didn’t need the justification of some web article to tell me this though, the evidence was within myself: I can easily work on a book for hours without feeling exhaustion versus when I’m doing something less creative.
Armed with this knowledge, I saw opportunities within my own space to make change. Part of that change came from shifting the amount of work I do with my job, after I clocked off. That clear separation gave me clear boundaries for which writing, work and university studies each belonged.
The key to everything after all, is balance. Better late than never to work that out I say!