Burnout & The Power to Take a Break

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Confession: working full time and going to grad school part time left me burnt out. I was tired all the time, cranky, and overly stressed. I knew that I needed a break.

In June, when the lease on my apartment in Atlanta was up, I quit my job and moved to the place that I thought might be home, Alabama, and started a time of what I've lovingly been calling funemployment. Since then I've had time to work on my classes, go to local parks, enjoy the sunshine, read books, watch TV, hang out with friends and family, and do whatever felt right to recharge. I've only been funemployed for a month now, and I know that this short time has already helped me so much.

Thankfully, I was able to see this burnout coming, so for 6 months before I quit my job I decreased my monthly savings for long and medium term goals and increased my savings for the short term goal of funemployment to rest and recharge. I cut back my clothing and entertainment budget, reduced retirement contributions, and took out student loans for tuition for the 19/20 school year, all to beef up and preserve my cash savings.

Do all of those choices make great financial sense? Absolutely not. I’m sure that Dave Ramsey would tell me that I’m making poor financial choices. However, they were truly required for my emotional well-being, and I don’t regret them at all.

Has it been difficult to see my bank account balance decrease knowing that there’s no money coming in? Absolutely. But I had a 6 month emergency fund in place before I started cutting back, and now my savings can get me through even more than 6 months. For me, this absolutely was an emergency. Even if something is a bad financial decision, it still might be the right decision for you.

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I know that I am so privileged to even be able to make this choice. I’ve kept some of my expenses low through choice (housing, transportation and food), and some of them are low through luck (I was given enough of a financial education to avoid credit card debt. My mom helped me pay for college to minimize my student loans). Low expenses have helped me to save up money, along with a decent income in my first professional job, and they’ve helped me to stretch the amount of time my savings will last. Not everyone is in the position to be able to take this kind of a break, and I know that hard work and luck have played equal parts in getting me here.

The picture at the top of this article is of a canvas that my sister painted for me one Christmas. It’s currently hanging above my desk, reminding me that’s OK to take this break and start all over again. While attending grad school is definitely something that I’m proud of, I’m not proud of the burnout that I caused myself by trying to work full time at the same time in the pursuit of maximizing my time and doing everything at once.

What about you? Have you ever felt burnt out? What did you do to solve it? Have you found a solution? Let me know in the comments!