When A Joy Becomes A Burden
Let me know if you can relate.
At some point in your entrepreneur journey, or somewhere in your professional career path, you lose the joy of it all. I mean like gone. Like you can barely get out of bed to go to work, and once you get enough courage to get in the shower, you stand still with your head down with the water coming down over your face and you can’t muster up any energy to even give a crap. Maybe not to that extreme, but I think it happens to everyone. And, there’s nothing you can do to prevent it from happening. I know this because it happened to me.
For 15 straight years into my career, everything went right. I was told by Tim (our VP of Human Resources) that in all of his experience, he’s never seen anyone like me advance so rapidly in an organization. I went from an Intro Design Engineer to a Mid Manager to an Upper Managing Position with a nice big office and a personal secretary. That was the dream back then. So, was I ecstatic? No. My wife would say to me, “I think you are slowly dying inside.” And she was right.
According to Dr. Bhrett McCabe, author of Break Free from Suckville, there are 3 phases that lead you to Suckville. And for reference, Suckville is where people get stuck. For athletes, they stop winning. For creatives, they stop creating. And for all of us, it is a place where we no longer find any joy, motivation nor purpose in what we are doing. So, how did we get here?
Phase 1: Joy. When it was fun. Do you remember when you were learning something new? Learning a sport, learning how to paint, learning a new video game, learning how to build. You couldn’t be stopped. You didn’t mind spending extra hours to figure it out. Especially if you found yourself being good at it. Mastering the skill was exhilarating and the winning was just the icing on the cake. I can do this forever. During this phase, hard work produces proportional results. The pursuit of competence and the mastery in your craft drives your focus.
Phase 2: Job. Then it becomes a job. Good things come to an end. Joy dims. Entitlements begin to foster during this phase. Expectations start to emerge. Over time, the rewards lose their shine. You want more. The relationship you had with your craft while you were learning it changes. Practice becomes a task rather than a training ground to keep improving. Mistakes become magnified. People’s feedback becomes a personal attack.
Phase 3: Burden. Now, it’s a burden. When does this happen? It occurs when the rewards you receive from doing what you used to love to do no longer outweigh the sacrifices you must make to perform at your best. You start to focus more on the struggles rather than the benefits that it used to bring. What started as fun has broken you down with disappointment, frustration, and exhaustion. Your performances no longer validate your worth.
But, here’s the good news. Suckville is a temporary place. It’s where you stay for a bit to regroup, refocus and recalibrate. It’s a place where you learn to see from a different perspective, learn to be grateful about the process, and learn to persevere. It’s where you break free, where you understand more of who you are, what you are made of and what you are willing to do to escape. It’s where you reach deep into your soul and say to yourself, I got this. I want to live. I want to find joy again.
For me, it took a courageous decision to write out my resignation and quit at the top of my game knowing it was a game I didn’t want to play anymore. And I started again from the bottom in a new place, in a new role, finding joy in learning..mastering a new skill with exhilaration and focus. That’s where I am today. Am I in fear of phase 2 and phase 3 around the corner? Not as much as before. Seems like it’s easier the second time around. Bring it on, haha. And how will it be different next time around? Well, for one, I am doing a lot of work within. I am learning to be mentally tough and learning to be more aware of and staying in the phase I am in now.
I would love to hear your story as well. We are all in this together. Right? Email me back. Let’s chat.