How my burn-out flamed my career, and how I'm rising

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This was me a year ago. I’d handed in my notice on a career 16 years in the making, with absolutely zero plan for what I was going to do next. I was thoroughly terrified, yet at the same time elated. It felt like a weight had been lifted, and yet also like a space had opened up inside me and I had no clue what I was going to fill it with.
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This wasn’t just a job I was walking out on, it was something that had felt like a true calling for most of the journey. A leadership role with elements of mentorship, design, project management, marketing, logistics and finance, using every part of my brain and pushing me to achieve things I never thought possible.
It was a tough choice, to leave all that behind. A career that I had truly loved, had poured my soul and spirit and passion into. A little part of my heart still aches for it.
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But it just wasn’t serving me any more.
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Things had changed - I had changed. I felt choked…stunted…uninspired…like I wasn’t achieving anything meaningful, or fulfilling my true potential. My anxiety was through the roof, my To Do lists multiplying like bunnies, my loyalties torn more than ever before between being a mum and being a manager. I felt so trapped, and just consumed by this sense of the tank being drained. I had nothing left to give and I couldn’t see any way for me to change it.
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And then one day I just couldn’t anymore. I was a burnt up sparkler, a dried out husk of a human being, and I was utterly, abjectly miserable. So I did it. I pulled the ripcord. Hit the eject button. I straight up bounced. A pretty slow bounce with a three month notice period, but you get the idea. I threw my hands up and I walked away from not just a job, but what felt like a massive part of my own identity.
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In the year since then I’ve spent my time all but rebuilding myself from the ground up. Working out who I even am if I’m not that career-mum running full tilt from strategy session to Parents Evening with a flat white glued to my hand.
I’ve been resting, exercising, immersing myself in the life of a full-time stay-at-home mum, and of course talking - and talking - and talking some more. To my CBT therapist, to my husband, to my friends, who god knows must be sick of my endless spiralling by now...(Sorry guys!!)
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But it still took me months to even realise that what I was feeling had a name: it was burn out.
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Being able to put a name to my experiences was a relief, as was sharing in others' stories to help me feel less alone, and less of a failure - a big reason for me sharing my story here. I'd spent so long living with chronic stress and feelings of never being enough of anything - a good enough mother, a good enough partner, a good enough manager, creative enough, clever enough, organised enough...you get the picture. A huge part of my recovery journey has simply been about exorcising those thoughts and feelings held physically in my body and allowing the stress to ebb away - I swear my shoulders have dropped inches in the last 6 months!
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I'm learning to exist as a human in the world and just be. And more than that, to UNlearn my core belief that productivity = value, and to know instead that I have intrinsic value in just being me.
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Three months ago I launched Kinder Kids, and it has felt amazing to be putting something out into the universe that comes from inside of me. Something I created, that pumps postivity and acceptance out into a world that sorely needs these things.  Don't get me wrong, it's slow going, very much an uphill climb for a new business with a marketing budget of around 50p - a far cry from the milion pound campaigns I used to run in corporate-land! But I know now that the journey is the destination. I thrive on climing that hill, and I'm chock-full of ideas and inspiration again so I know I must be on the right track.
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If there's one thing I've learned throughout all of this, it's that I'm absolutely an all-or-nothing person. And on this new life I'm building, this new identity as a small business owner and a mum who is fully present for her kids, here is what I know: I'm all in.

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