Passion and burnout


Two weeks ago I did a ‘Career Clinic’ about passion and burnout for students of the pop department of Conservatory of Amsterdam, next month I’ll do a reading about this subject for students of all years at the Herman Brood Academy in Utrecht. Passion gives you a positive vibe that can protect you against burnout. And the same passion can make you go too far, so you are more likely to burn out.

In Amsterdam I talked to a small group of students. It was with a great atmosphere, very relaxed, open and honest. I mentioned several statements that can function as signal for burnout. One of the statements was, that you feel responsible, even for tasks that are not yours. Everyone answered positive to this one!

The danger of burnout is, that it knocks you down. Once you’ve gone that far, you are so tired that you can’t take one single step anymore. Everything becomes a very heavy burden. You can’t even bring yourself to playing some music for yourself or going out to buy some bread. Your passion in itself feels as a duty.

On average, people need 11 month to recover from a burnout. Imagine, being out of the running for that long! Many musicians loose their passion for music during their burnout period. When feeling better, music reminds them too much on the bad period just before the burnout, on how their passion for music drove them to neglect their health.

Music shows us that there is more to this world than politics, economics and the daily rush we live in. Music shows us that we can connect, even if we speak different languages. Music is a shortcut to our emotions. Music is important to you, to me, to the world, that makes musicians important too. I care about musicians. That’s why I’m so passionate about preventing burnout for musicians.

If you want to prevent burnout, you have to look broader than your passion. Passion is good, but you have to realize that other factors are important too. Your network, your physical condition, your purpose and your energy are just as important. You want to keep your passion burning, without burning out. So you have to recharge. You have to develop the habit of regularly putting on more wood to the fireplace, in order to keep the fire burning.

How you can recharge, is different for every person and situation. I recharge by sitting on the couch with a cup of tea and a nice book. My sister needs people around her, that gives her energy. Jogging, or swimming in cold water, can give you a great energy boost too. Often the energy comes from something that is not directly linked to your passion.

In her renowned book “The Artist’s Way”, Julia Cameron advises every artist to book a weekly date, an ‘artist date’. The ‘artist date’ is a date with your inner artist, with no one else. You take your inner artist to a date, to get inspired, to recharge, to put some more wood on the fireplace. It can be a visit to a museum, a visit to the library, a long stroll in the woods or on the beach, a visit to a record store or a music instrument store. Most important is, that it feels as an inspiring treat to yourself.

What ‘artist date’ do you plan for yourself this week?

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