This is an Eval Central archive copy, find the original at freshspectrum.com.
This is one of those oversharing kinds of blog posts filled with me being vulnerable. If you don’t like reading about people’s feelings, please feel free to skip this post.
I love my work.
- As a consultant I get the chance to work with amazing clients doing work that feels right.
- Since I have no boss, I have almost complete control over my schedule.
- I absolutely love teaching information design and helping data people rediscover their creative passions.
- And to top it off, I get to draw cartoons.
But I also struggle.
- My creative brain has a way of leading me down rabbit hole after rabbit hole, even when deadlines approach (or especially when deadlines approach).
- I have a strong desire to help everyone with everything. And I seek out problems even if I have things I need to get done for myself, my job, or my family.
- I also cope with regular bouts of anxiety and depression.
When burnout approaches.
It’s now been over six and a half years since I first left the comforts of a stable full time job for the freedom and instability of an independent business. And over that time I’ve learned a lot more about myself.
I’ve also started to become more aware of the signs of a potential burnout. And I’ve noticed a few lately.
- My process starts to break down, and my self-imposed deadlines on things like blog posts and email newsletters start to slide.
- I feel more exhausted, even though my sleep schedule hasn’t changed.
- Procrastination, which is always a struggle, becomes even more so.
- And self-doubt increases.
Unlike professions such as health care or social work, however, burnout often carries a stigma when it comes to the fields of photography, design, and other professions dismissed by many in the outside world as fun hobbies rather than actual work. In truth, attitudes like these only make recognizing and overcoming burnout all the more challenging, and potentially increase the mental health risks for creative professionals.
Something’s gotta give.
I’ve decided to take preemptive action to free up some time and mental space.
What I’m keeping
- I’ll still draw cartoons. It’s fun and therapeutic. Cartoons help me to create a deeper connection with others in the evaluation world.
- I’ll still share those cartoons on LinkedIn. I love the comments and conversation that they bring.
- I’ll still write blog posts. Writing for this blog gives me energy and rarely ever feels like a drag.
- I’ll still be working hard for my current clients. This is important work and sustains my business.
- I’ll still be leading the information design academy. This is a passion project that I still dream will one day be my primary thing. I love it more than anything else I do.
What I’m dropping.
I love that people support my comics, and my patrons have helped me to power through past struggles. But Patreon also makes me feel like I’m not doing enough for those that support my work.
This is not based on demands made by my Patrons, because they have been one of the most supportive groups in my life. But my own feelings are that in order to do Patreon right, I need to put time into building a community and providing continuous value just for my supporters.
It creates a pressure. And I always feel like I’m failing my patrons. And as much as I don’t want to, I feel like I need to let the service go. So from now on, if you would like to support me and my comics, consider joining my information design academy (or share my academy with your friends and colleagues).
And if you are currently, or have been in the past, one of my patrons. Thank you for all the support, it has meant so much.
Barriers to my Information Design Academy.
I’ve been trying to follow a specific model for my information design academy. It involves opening quarterly with cohorts and using an application for enrollment.
But as much as I see the potential value in these approaches, they also don’t work for me. Mostly because they add barriers. They also add extra administrative work.
Every person who has taken the time to apply for my information design academy has been awesome, each in their own way. I want every one of them to join the academy if they want, when they want.
I’m also impatient. I want them to be able to join now if they’d like, or whenever they need it. I also know that I can help onboard anyone as we go, and the group is very likely to remain small enough to keep that personal touch.
And if it does start to get larger (which I would like) I have the space to schedule more live sessions to keep up the conversations and personal support.
So, I’m taking down the barriers.
The academy is going to be cheaper again. $599 each year or $179 each quarter. There is a discount and a scholarship if you need to pay less. I put the coupon codes on the actual registration page so they are impossible to miss.
You can join anytime. And if you join and don’t think it’s actually right for you, tell me and I’ll give you your money back. You can learn more about the academy here.
The feeling that I need more clients.
My big CDC contract goes through the fall. And I’ll admit that I am a bit anxious as to what will happen when the cooperative agreement expires. I should know sometime in the spring what the future may hold.
But for the moment, I’m fine. I could add zero more clients between now and September and continue to be financially stable.
I’m tired of letting my fear of an uncertain future rule my present. So I’m going to try to let it go.
Now for you.
Writing this post made me feel nervous. It was a whole lot of personal oversharing and will likely lead to a bunch of unsubscribes.
But I know from years of occasional oversharing that this kind of post is valuable. Because you might also be at risk of burnout. And sometimes it’s good to know that you’re not alone.
While I appreciate your support, there are many others out there who need it more than I do. I’ll be okay. While I’m flirting with burnout, I think I can keep it at bay.
But if you’re flirting with burnout, I hope this post helps you in some small way. Pay attention to the signs and don’t be afraid to ask for help.