I have come to realize what my real job title is—beyond mom, wife, CEO, Founder, Entrepreneur, and so on. My real job is to be the Chief Attention Payer.
What do I mean by that? I listen, I watch, I remember things (lots and lots of things), I notice how others feel, I notice when something feels “off.” I pay attention to supplies of things (everything from how much cash the business has to how many groceries are left in the pantry.) I tap in every single day to my intuition and my emotional intelligence and use them as sensors to give me information about whatever situation I walk into, and how the humans around me (big or small) are doing in that moment.
And I am not alone. Every single woman out there who talks about the lists that she keeps in her head, the parallel worlds she’s constantly juggling, she’s just like me.
But there is one thing we never talk about. Not publicly at least. But here goes.
Not mere stress. I’m talking about severe burnout. The kind you don’t even know you’re suffering from, because it just feels like anxiety or tiredness (and who wouldn’t be tired given the many things I just listed that we’re all doing?). I’m talking about symptoms that may constitute depression, but that we instead chalk up to feeling overwhelmed. I’m talking about not feeling happiness.
I feel these things all the time. I have learned to notice a few warning signs, but I’m terrible at actually heeding them. I tell myself I need to power through, to suck it up, that tomorrow will be better, if only I can just make it to Friday.
I don’t have great coping mechanisms. But I do have a couple.
For one thing, I know that when things are really bad, I need to make time for exercise, because it helps me mentally feel better.
I also know that I have to get away. So I do. Every summer, I physically leave Washington, D.C. I take my kids, I don’t take my au pair, and I go away for three to four weeks. I work a few hours every day to stay on top of things, but I remove all the other things that cause my burn out. I don’t schedule client appointments, I don’t schedule doctors’ appointments, I don’t order anything from Amazon, I don’t pay bills, I don’t schedule play dates, I don’t pick up and organize my house. I only do two things: I feed my family and I do the laundry.
It’s not perfect, but it’s how I cope.
So if you’re a fellow Chief Attention Payer, please share how you deal with burnout by clicking our share links below, because all of us deserve a break every now and then from paying so much attention to so many things.