I don’t want to chase my own tail anymore.

What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step.
​It is always the same step, but you have to take it.  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

It’s been 11 months and three weeks since I sat in the office of a corporate job for the last time.

When I turned 30, I experienced my second burnout – a syndrome caused by an immense amount of work-related stress. It starts in your mind and it spreads through your body. It makes you extremely reactive to anything, ill and, at times, incapable of even getting out of bed.

After you suffer from a burnout twice, you make it your mission to eradicate it from your life. You decide to help others do the same. And you learn that you may have way more company in this struggle than you might expect.

​According to the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, one in every five highly engaged employees in the US are at risk of burnout. In Brazil and in the UK, it’s even worse: one out of three workers have experienced burnout symptoms.

More than a growing syndrome, burnout is a sign of our times.

The reason why so many people get sick from an unbearable amount of stress is not a mystery to any of us. We live in a world where we’re pressured to be constantly doing something. Where we’re pressured to be constantly achieving things, constantly competing, and constantly succeeding.

I’ve grown up as an overachiever.

I’ve always done more than asked, more than necessary, to please and impress people. And the world kept praising me for this limitless effort. For always saying yes and for always delivering more than expected. It took me a while to understand the damage it had caused to my health, my relationships and my own identity.

When we get lost in asking too much of ourselves and of others, the consequences are terrible.

A lot has been crucial to my recovery. From medication to therapy, mindfulness meditation, to the gigantic support from my family and close friends. However, therapy won’t change the world surrounding me; medication won’t change the state of things as they are.

I realised that I can’t think of real recovery unless I think of changing both from inside out and outside in. Unless I observe my relationship with work, what I’ve learned as right and wrong, and what I’ve done along the way.

I can’t think of recovery unless I do my part and rethink about everything I once thought I knew about work and accomplishments. I can’t think of recovery unless I create, from scratch, work that is truly connected to my values and makes me smile.

That’s why I am starting this project, and that’s why I call it The Better Achiever. I am offering to myself and the world the idea of shifting from doing more to doing better.

I don’t want to chase my own tail anymore. I don’t want to be too busy for the important things. I don’t want to commit to work or people that are not connected to my truest values. I don’t want to see smart people falling ill because they did too much, and yet felt that it didn’t even matter in the end.

This initiative, idea, project, is being released to the world today.

What I want from it is to help create better ways of dealing with life and work. Ways that resonate with our truths. Ways that respect our nature and our timings. Ways that bring us joy, ways that challenge us, but don’t hurt us.

There are many people promoting changes and bringing a beautiful impact, in big and in small ways. I want to shine a light on them. By seeing others doing it, we realise it is possible and become motivated in doing the same.

I am excited about how all this will unfold. And if you feel this resonates to you in any way, please join the conversation.

I am only getting started, and the path is as long as my drive to walk it. As long as this helps us be a little happier, a little healthier and a little more fulfilled.

Picture of Carol Milters

Carol Milters

Writer, facilitator and investigator of burnout, workaholism and the culture of mental health at work.

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Further reading

One Step Per Day

📖A first look into my new book “One Step Per Day: Meditations to begin again, whenever you need”.We’ll host a launch celebration gathering in Amsterdam

Read More »