My Lessons From 2022
Lessons about Struggles, Burnout, Patience, Hero's Journey, and Self-Love
2022 is coming to an end. I don’t know about you, but for me, this year has been very challenging in many ways and aspects.
In January 2022 I quit my job and started my own entrepreneurial / freelancer journey. During this year, a lot of things came up from my past and I had to process them and deal with them. I had some health problems and I reached my lowest health point in the last 4-5 years.
But at the same time, this year’s brought me a lot of growth, insights, and lessons.
If you’ve been a subscriber for a long time and you’ve been reading my newsletter often, you might be familiar with some of these lessons because I wrote about them in the previous newsletters and in the “My Personal Insights” section of this Conquering Burnout newsletter. Some are also new and I haven’t written and talked about them before.
Here are the lessons I learned this year. I hope you enjoy my insights and find them useful.😊✌️
PS: This is part one of My Lessons From 2022. Part two with even more insights will be sent out next week, but it will be available just for paid subscribers, so if you haven’t already, please consider subscribing: it’s a great way to support my work and this newsletter.
Also, happy New Year! May 2023 be the year that you achieve the success, happiness, and health that you’ve been pursuing!
What makes all the struggles, challenges, and hard times worthwhile are the lessons and insights that you gain and learn.
This was a somewhat recent insight and lesson that came to me unexpectedly and changed my whole view about the past year 2022.
Like I said in the intro, it was quite a challenging year, and sometimes it was hard not to be too harsh on myself and not feel like I made a mistake somewhere along the path and chose the wrong turn.
But the insight that came to me one night in the bath, made me realize that all the struggles had been worth it: Knowledge, experience, and insights are invaluable and often come only through hard and challenging times.
Often throughout this year, there have been moments where I was wondering whether or not I made a mistake to quit my regular job. But if I hadn't taken the leap into the unknown, I'd still be in the same place, at the same job, dealing with the same problems, and without all these experiences and personal insights, I've gained while going through the challenges of this year.
So I realized that what makes all the struggles, challenges, and hard times worthwhile are the lessons and insights that you gain and learn.
You can read more about this insight and lesson in the article below:
Sometimes I forget (and ignore) that I'm burned out
This was one of my first bigger lessons and insights of 2022 - and it was a really hard and challenging one!
After I quit my job in December of 2021, I begin January and year 2022 full of energy, motivation, and drive to work, be productive and make sh*t done! Before I felt like my job was really holding me back, sucking my energy, and causing me a lot of problems that were preventing me from being my best self. After I stopped working, I felt like I had a lot more energy left since the job wasn’t there to suck up a ton of energy, and the first few weeks of January I was flying high: paddling strong, sprinting, doing too much, drinking too much caffeine, working out too heavy and too often, …
And as a proverb in my country goes:
“Kdor visoko leta, nizko pade”, in English: “He who flies high, falls low”
And I did, I fell down hard and burned: I burned out a bit and had to take a few days off to fully recover.
This however taught me a great lesson that no matter the situation in life and what I do, deep down I’m still going to be a bit burned out. Multiple prolonged episodes of burnout have left me with some permanent damage: I call it a “chronic injury”. It’s just like sports injuries: some injuries start out as acute and become chronic over time due to complications and poor treatment and recovery.
I have a limited amount of energy, and a limited amount of resources and I can’t go as long and as hard as others can. I can’t push my body physically as intensively as I would have liked.
It sucks, but nothing can change that and all I can do is accept this aspect of myself, not push myself as hard, take extra care of my body, mind, and spirit, and love myself the way I am.
During the past few months, I’ve worked hard and resolved a lot of the patterns that drove me to burnout and I’m much better and stronger now. :)
You can read more about this insight and lesson in the article below:
Things take a lot more time than we expect
I read somewhere (I think it was in Tim Ferris’ book The 4-Hour Workweek, but I couldn’t find it out) that things take twice as much time and cost twice as much as we think.
When I quit my job, my goal was to have it all figured out by the end of 2022: that I would have earned a living with my business by doing what I love to do, launched my online course about burnout, regained my fitness, scored new PRs in the gym, achieved my ideal lifestyle, etc.
Things usually don’t happen as fast as we would like, they usually take a lot more time and cost much more than we expected.
If we pursue conventional goals and goal setting (like I used to do), it’s a high probability that we might end up disappointed. But we can’t control the outcomes: we can only control our actions and behaviors.
That’s why many philosophies across the globe and history emphasized the importance of letting go of results, letting go of what we cannot control, and allowing things to come and happen on their own.
That’s also why I like the quote from my former mentor and coach Ryan Munsey “Focus on actions, not outcomes.” and the Italian quote that I have tattooed on my biceps “Tu in ogni case mettici il cuore, che poi al resto ci pensa la vita” (in English: “Do everything with your heart, life will take care of the rest”).
Give it your best, focus on actions and allow the outcome that you want to come by themselves.
Taking the leap is not the hardest part
I always thought that the most difficult part of our journey is the start - the jump and leap into the void, but listening to Rick Alexander’s podcast about the call to adventure and the hero's journey, I realized that that's not the case and it all made sense!
When I decided to quit my job in December 2021, I thought that that leap into the void was the most difficult part and that things will get easier and easier after that. But as the first months of 2022 went by, I couldn't understand why I was having such a hard time and things seemed to get worse and worse...
As Rick Alexander explained in that podcast episode, answering the call to adventure - taking the leap - is not the hardest part... The hardest part comes after that.
Answering the call in the hero's journey leads the character into the underworld - wonderland, hell, ... - where things get really scary and challenging.
That's why even if taking the leap feels like it's the scariest part, it's easier than what's about to come.
I wish I knew this when I decided to quit my job and go on a journey to start and build my own business because I would be more prepared for the struggles and hardships that were about to come.
But there's no going back: as Rick explained in that episode, the only way is on and through.
If you're currently in the "underworld" and your life feels like hell, remember the quote from Winston Churchill:
"If you're going through hell, keep going."
Lack of Self-love is directly correlated to burnout
Over the past year, I have noticed in myself that my general health, well-being, and burnout condition depend very much on the level of self-love I cultivate for myself.
When I am too far away from cultivating true, conditional self-love for an extended period of time, I fall into my old patterns of perfectionism, workaholism, high expectations, limiting beliefs, internal pressures and contempt.
Also, when I’m too far off from cultivating love for myself for too long, I feel my burnout start creeping back in, which I think it’s the result of falling into the old pattern and belief systems that don’t serve me.
At the same time, I also felt the best and with no signs of burnout when my Self-Love is high.
I believe it’s because Self-Love is a “better” mental groove and it enables us to operate out of and live with joy, gratitude, compassion, love and patience which positively influences our thoughts, actions and behaviors, which then positively impacts our overall life and general health — including the burnout condition.
So I’m focusing a lot of attention and energy on developing a strong self-love practice: i’m planning on writing about how to develop a strong Self-Love practice in the future, so stay tuned for that!
Swapping Happiness for Meaning
One of the lessons I learned when I got sick during summer (which was the beginning of burnout) was that I’d been swapping happiness for meaning.
I’m the type of person who gains a lot of energy, well-being, and ultimately happiness from feeling and sense of purpose and meaning — but I was overdoing it. I’d focused too much on working and purpose and I forgot about happiness in the now.
Deep down I’d been a bit unhappy and I tried to fill that gap with work and activities that would bring me a sense of meaning, purpose, and ultimately happiness, which led to overworking, high expectations, and mental pressures, which then lead to burnout.
This lesson helped me learn that it’s about balancing happiness and meaning, and I think that this can be achieved by following Vishen’s Lakhiani’s Formula for Daily Bliss and Magic, which consists of:
Happiness, Bliss, and Magic = Happiness in the now + Pursue of the goals and visions of your ideal future
So cultivate happiness in the now — choosing and engaging in the activities that bring us happiness, hanging out with people that we love and fill us up, doing things that we enjoy doing, cultivating Gratitude practice, doing the Self-Love practice — and pursue big goals and bold visions of my ideal future, which will bring a sense of purpose and meaning which will result in happiness in the now.