It sure has been a while since my last post, two years to be exact! I know what you’re thinking, how can a digital marketer not follow best practices that they constantly preach to their clients? Well, it’s the same scenario as say maybe a hairdresser, they don’t have a ton of time to do their own hair. It’s a bad excuse but it is the only excuse I have.
As I get back into the swing of things, I would like to share my experience with professional burnout. It’s a real thing and it has hit me three times in my career. It has hit me hard recently, and it is humbling to go through the experience.
Two years ago, I accepted a role as a Digital Marketing Strategist throughout Western Canada, for a maternity leave position in addition to my own clients. I was excited for this new role and challenge. The first few months everything was manageable, supporting a great team of seasoned account executives across three major cities, building digital marketing strategies for all their clients and all their projects and working with operations to execute those campaigns. I was also responsible for educating, training sales team, sometimes the clients and coordinating with ad operations. I truly loved the role and really enjoy helping people and their projects, campaigns and seeing them perform and succeed. I also made time for my clients.
Over the course of the first year, as with many companies, there were many changes with the industry in various markets, management changes including one who passed away and other relieved of their duties. During all this change, the decision makers didn’t replace any of those people. This had a drastic effect on the company and also on myself. Without those people in place, I was filling in for some of those roles in the markets I was supporting. My role in senior management was increasing and so was workload.
After the first year, I was asked to stay on board for an additional year, although there was change, I accepted the opportunity with the goal of providing positive change. That was important to me, and as a company started to get the ball rolling with new initiatives, hiring and growth.
During this time, it was long days, long evenings and weekends working with my own clients and the daytime job. I loved both however I stopped making time for myself and my family. This resulted in a snowball effect on every aspect of my life. My stress level reached levels I am not proud of; my health wasn’t in great shape and all the things that come along with not making time for yourself. With my health being an issue, the problem was my low back issues. Sitting at my desk for too long, driving sometimes 7-8 hours per day, not taking time to exercise resulted in three herniated discs, a cracked vertebra and a broken vertebra, the pain was unbearable. I ended up on bed rest. Although not ideal, I worked from my bed for 6 weeks unable to walk or drive. I knew it was time to let the “daytime” job go. I was always happiest working with my clients and helping them succeed.
- 6 weeks bed rest
- Pain killers
- Steroid Injections
- MRI (self funded)
- Decompression Therapy
- Electric pulse treatments
Healing was my priority, without the support of my family, I am not sure I could have gotten through it as well as I did. Within eight weeks I was off pain killers and started strength training. Starting from the beginning all over again.
Now, I didn’t have a life-threatening illness or anything too severe however, one goes through a process of thoughts when you are debilitated and in extreme pain. Overcoming all the feelings is humbling. Grateful is literally the first word that comes to mind. With lots of time to think and put things and I mean everything into perspective, it was the best word to describe my family, my ability to work from home, and amazing support from my friends. I had to stay positive and I knew this wasn’t forever. It was in my control soon to get better and use all the resources available.
This is where I came into the realization I should continue to work with my clients and grow my digital marketing and SEO consulting independently. Stretching myself thin with too much work and too much stress was a strong lesson to learn.
Always remember to take time for yourself so you can be your best person. Professional burnout is a hard lesson to learn and avoidable. Know your limits.