Avoid Burnout and Maximize Your Potential

Burnout is inevitable.  You know what you're capable of, but some days, it just doesn't seem like you're living up to your full potential.  Before you know it, negativity sets in.  The sooner you dig yourself out of the doldrums, the sooner you can go back to being that awesome, can't-live-without employee that your boss so heavily relies on.

Here are three tips that will instantly help you regain your mojo.

1. Be fearless.

"There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar: It keeps the mind nimble, it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor."

— George Santayana, quoted in The San Francisco Chronicle 

Learn to be comfortable outside of your Comfort Zone. Going to karaoke, trying a new restaurant or taking a different route to work will instantly (even if subconsciously) take you right out of your CZ.  Whether you're uneasy about giving a presentation at work or become overwhelmed when tasks pile up, consistently putting yourself in situations that are inherently different will help you practice keeping up.  Putting yourself in a less comfortable setting will increase your focus and concentration and make you more aware of what you're doing and ultimately help you do it better.  The more you purposefully place yourself in unfamiliar circumstances, the more prepared you’ll be to handle any situation.

2. Play with your friends' tech stuff.

"Capitalism is taking us toward a future of accelerating change. The first twenty years of the twentieth century saw as much technological progress as the entire nineteenth century. Currently, industrial societies appear to be doubling their rate of technological progress every ten years. If this continues, and there is every reason to suppose that it will, the twenty-first century will experience the equivalent of twenty thousand years of 'normal' human progress."

— Walter R. Mead, God and Gold: Britain, America and the Making of the Modern World (Knopf: New York, October 2007).

Today, relevance is everything.  Know technology from tablets to TV remotes and Paint to Photoshop.  Every day there's a new software upgrade, hardware improvement, or launch of a product with more advanced features.  Maybe you have an iPhone and your roommate owns an Android.  Maybe your friends have a new baby and they just bought a high-tech baby monitor that they're trying to convince you isn't from outer space (but you know better).  Whether you're a PC or a Mac person and whether or not you ever plan on switching, learning about and being able to use other technologies is becoming as critical as speaking a new language, having a degree, or owning a cell phone. The nuances you pick up on across different product brands and types will help your brain's intuition when encountered with that new [whatever] that needs to be [uploaded, installed, programmed, decoded] and help you navigate the uninitiated with ease.

3. Read everything.

"No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance."

— Confucius 

It may sound like a cheesy college subway ad, but knowledge really is power. Staying up to date on or at least intelligently conversant in the latest trends across sectors is as critical as any other skill you could have. You never know who you'll need to small talk on the job, and having an active knowledge of the ever-changing world is imperative.  Pick up the newspaper just as often as you do the tabloids and read the articles as vigorously as you flip through the pictures.

Jacqueline Cochran was orphaned in infancy and later lived with a poor family that traveled to sawmill towns in search of jobs.  She became a reporter, owned a cosmetics firm and worked as a test pilot.  She was the first woman to break the sound barrier, the first woman to fly a bomber across the Atlantic, the first civilian woman to win a Distinguished Service Medal and was elected to the Aviation Hall of Fame in 1992. At her death in 1980, she held more speed, altitude and distance records than any other pilot.

Jacqueline Cochran was orphaned in infancy and later lived with a poor family that traveled to sawmill towns in search of jobs.  She became a reporter, owned a cosmetics firm and worked as a test pilot.  She was the first woman to break the sound barrier, the first woman to fly a bomber across the Atlantic, the first civilian woman to win a Distinguished Service Medal and was elected to the Aviation Hall of Fame in 1992. At her death in 1980, she held more speed, altitude and distance records than any other pilot.

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