Archival Community

2017: A Reflection on Smashing Goals and Burning Out

And so, without pause, another year is coming to an end! (Does anyone else feel like they’re skidding wildly over the finish line?)

In many ways this post is the sequel to one which described a crazy pact Nicola Laurent and I made for the year of 2016. The pact was to grab all opportunities that came our way in 2016, as a test of how far a new professional could actually get by making themselves available.

The answer: remarkably and terrifyingly far. I encourage you to read more about that experiment here.

I am beyond grateful to the pact which Nicola and I made, as new professionals tend to have less stressful jobs and more time on their hands. The pact was what we needed to have the gumption to pop our hands up, and we were able to make the most of those commitments before our jobs became more time- (and brain-) consuming.

The pact did result in some longer term commitments which carried over into 2017 (or even further in some cases). These responsibilities in 2017 included: publishing papers; editing reviews; coordinating a symposium; commencing a PhD; presenting at multiple conferences; travelling interstate (or overseas) at least once per month, and; publishing a blogpost every fortnight.

This was in addition to planning a wedding and renovating an apartment.

In some ways it’s quite incredible that I reached November before burning out!

Fortunately the burn out was super polite and held off until most commitments had been fulfilled before setting in.

For those who are unaware, the symptoms of burn out include:

  • “physical and emotional exhaustion
  • cynicism and detachment
  • feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment” (Carter, 2013)

If these symptoms are striking a chord with you, please do take the time to read Carter’s short article in more detail. Recognising burn out early on is essential to better recovery. 

It’s important to note that burn out does not go away if you ignore it. You need to address the root cause, which in my case, meant easing up on commitments.

I consider this period of slowing down as an inevitable outcome of the pact Nicola and I made, seemingly such a long time ago. Considering the incredible opportunities I was able to take advantage of, I am convinced that this wild ride was completely worth it!

My main challenge for 2018 will be to establish a better work/life balance, and to be strategic about how I spend my time. You could call this my new years resolution. Do you have any work-related new years resolutions? I would be curious to hear them, so please comment below.

Thank you so much to those who followed the blog this year and the humbling number of you who have signed on to my mailing list. Your encouragement means more than I can say.

Please note that in accordance with feedback, in 2018 I will be publishing blogposts once per month instead of fortnightly. Sign up to the mailing list to keep up to date.


My 5 favourite posts of 2017:

Is Your Collecting Institution Culturally Appropriate? 

Being an Activist Archivist

Considering “The Power of the Archive”

How Archival Practitioners can do Research

Why Understanding Identity is Integral to GLAM

5 thoughts on “2017: A Reflection on Smashing Goals and Burning Out

Leave a Reply