My name is Carrie and I’m a recovering burnout. It’s been years since I stopped running.
I love my job so there’s a little bit of me that feels bad I couldn’t keep up the lightning fast pace. I’m the CEO and President of an empowerment organization headquartered in Scottsdale called Severson Sisters. We inspire girls to live authentically as their super selves. My job fills my heart up and I’m honored to be the captain of this particular vessel.
I do what I do today because I followed my intuition. In 2009 I came home from work and questioned what I was supposed to do with my life.
It went something like this: “God, I’ve been trying to figure this whole thing out for the last 30 years. Can you talk a bit louder? I can’t hear you.”
I spent months writing out my passions until one day I heard it/him/my inner voice. I realized that my passion and life purpose was to be a light for girls.
In January 2011, the company I worked for had one lay off after they lost a client. I was the lowest billable person and I lost my job.
Two days later, I launched Severson Sisters with only my savings and 401K dollars. Even though I was scared out of my mind, I knew taking that leap of faith was the right move for me and girls growing up today.
My life changed drastically when I took that step. Suddenly, everything I did was for the greater good of girls. Severson Sisters caught on fire. As a result, I was on a full out sprint - constantly. I took it all in stride because my life purpose is to be a light for others. I figured the race must have just been part of the gig.
In 2013, I learned I had been named one of USA Network's Character Unite Award Winners. It was so thrilling! I loved everything about the campaign and the USA Network team. I was so honored to be a part of it! Yet, on the other hand, I was so tired. And it was right about then that I realized I was burnt out.
I had totally lost myself in my career. I had lost most of my friends because I had no time for them. I hadn't been on a date in four years!
I was broke - financially, emotionally and mentally. I kept on running though because I wasn't able to cover my own bills. I thought, if I just kept on going things would change.
Physically, I had put on 30 pounds in three years because my hormones were so out of alignment due to the stress.
What really made me see I was burnt out though was having friends refer to Severson Sisters as my baby. They would encourage me to keep going because being an entrepreneur was the exact same as being a mother.
And I remember thinking, “God, I hope not.”
I really was so torn about it all. I created this fantastic organization that lifts girls up. And the fact that I just ran out of the strength to keep it up, hurt my heart. I pray when the time comes for me to be a mother I never run out of the strength to keep going. There was guilt, shame, embarrassment all mixed in with the joys of watching this non-profit unfold.
After the photo shoot for USA Network I went on vacation. One week turned into two weeks and two weeks turned into eight weeks.
I spent eight weeks in my hometown to work on my roots, my wings and refuel my soul. The Board of Directors for Severson Sisters were all very supportive and they all stepped up in a bigger way to allow me to lean back and regain some of what I lost. And honestly, the only way I was going to figure out what I had really lost was with time.
I grew up in a small town called Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. It was the perfect spot to seek refuge in, admit my burn out and find some recovery remedy.
Recovering from burnout is actually super uncomfortable. Sorry to break that to you in case you're in right now - or considering it. Here's what I can tell you though - burnout and recovery is the best professional and personal lesson I've been through.
During my burnout, I didn’t communicate with the outside world for a month. I sat on the back porch of my childhood home and listened to birds. I took notice of the breeze and the way clouds moved. Hours would go by before I moved. My thoughts on the other hand wouldn’t slow down and at first, it felt like fire. It was so uncomfortable to allow all that I had been ignoring to surface and shed.
As a result of the fire though, this soft, feminine inner voice I had been stifling for years emerged. My new identify had nothing to do with what I did for a living. It had everything to do with who I allowed myself to grow into.
I lost the need to sprint against this imaginary ticking time bomb I couldn’t ever beat. I ditched the need to be this always-in-control individual. I accepted that it wasn’t my responsibility to carry an organization on my own.
I eventually came back to work once I felt I knew this new Carrie. And truthfully, it felt like I started over. All my patterns were different. I was more relaxed and settled as a result of this new feminine being.
It's been more than a year since I went through burnout recovery. It's still a work in process. There are some days that are harder than ever to stay committed to my health and well-being. I know where my burnout line is and some days it is hard to stay on the right side of it - but once I recognize I'm getting close to it, I walk away. I travel, spend time at the ocean or play as big as I can!
I'm posting this story after a 16-hour day at Disneyland. And guess what - I played and played and played! And I needed it.
The fire I went through as a result of my burnout helped me become the woman I am today. I now spend two week days writing and communicating with others about how to recover from burnout. I take care of myself again. And my burnout remedy these days is playtime.
My name is Carrie and I’m a recovering burnout.
And I’m so much happier now.
This story originally appeared in The Huffington Post.
Carrie Severson is an entrepreneur and storyteller trainer who teaches leaders how to step into their stories and share their lessons. She writes about love, health, burnout, harmony and purpose for national media outlets. She can often times be found on a stage sharing stories. You can always find [...]