Burnout and Success

I am going to be really honest with you today. I hope you wont mind if I think out loud for a while.

The last two months have been completely overwhelming and it’s only now I’ve had a few days to reflect, that I realised I suffered from burnout in December (despite it being a good month for my migraine condition). Organisation is my jam, but a few things hit me in the face this month that I really wasn’t expecting (good and bad/personal and business). People in my life have often said to me “I don’t know how you do it all”, but I never really felt as though it was too much until now.

If you’re a new reader, you might not know that I work full-time as a PA as well as running Claireabellemakes. Almost 3 years ago I finished a masters in Arts Management and quit my job in London to work in Cambridge where I live. I opened an Etsy store and started to write this blog for fun. Now, I make money selling handmade goods, writing for craft books, running craft parties and working with brands for blog posts. I always knew I wanted to chase a ‘portfolio’ career for Claireabellemakes, but I am starting to think more and more about what that means and how it will come to be.

Maybe I’m already there. The thing is, my idea of success is never ending and money isn’t the primary motivation. I don’t feel the need to compare myself to others, but I do want to constantly learn, grow and challenge myself. There isn’t an end point, just a series of goals to push towards. Sometimes it is hard to focus on all the things at once and to give all areas of the business enough attention.

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Moving towards year 3, I feel reflective and overwhelmed all at once. I was told it takes 2 years to make a business work and I feel that this past year has tested me and rewarded me in equal measures. I stood for 8 hours in 1 degree temperatures to sell my wares and experienced my busiest market ever. I questioned my blog topics and whether they were relevant or interesting. I had multiple projects published in actual books. During the December rush I stayed up until 2am working for two weeks solid. The Christmas break had so many plans I don’t feel recharged at all. However, both the positive and negative experiences have ignited a drive and ambition in me.

Apart from giving me epic dark circles, the burnout of 2014 (as it shall now be known) has left me feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and a little shaky about what step to take next. It’s a case of so much to do, so little time. I touched a little on my goals for 2015 at the end of this post, but I really want to be more proactive and productive. I guess I should work smarter and not harder. A cliché, but a wise one.

This post may feel as though I’m a little lost. Right my goals just need a little prioritising and I am sure clarity will ensue. A planning session is in order and some good sleep required to clear my fuzzy (and now migrainey) head. Once I have it figured out I will be sure to share the journey with you.

Despite the burnout, I do feel 2014 was a successful year. I’ve learnt that being surrounded by physical clutter and a lack of planning/goal setting in my life leads me to feel overwhelmed. I have seen the potential my little business has and the growth that could come from putting time into it. Recognising these things gives me the push I need to get things back in order.

Luckily my lovely lovely sister has treated me to a spa weekend as a Christmas gift, so I shall be relaxing this weekend and having a social media detox.

Now, where’s my Filofax? Normal, positive blogging will now resume!

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P.S. I am sure I read the draft of this post at least 50 times! For some reason it was a bit scary to hit publish. EEK!

28 thoughts on “Burnout and Success

  1. Super post, sorry to hear you felt like that at what we all see as a ‘relaxing’ time but nice to see that maybe its all just part of a learning curve. You are the only blogger I come back to day after day to read. Its great to see you doing so well, and to see your blog evolve like it has

    Happy New Year

    Meg x
    Meg Jenner recently posted…Red Onion & Apple Sausage RollsMy Profile

    1. Meg your comment made me a wee bit teary, I’m not gonna lie! You are one of my loyal supporters and I’m so grateful for that. Even if I didn’t post enough toilet roll crafts for your liking 😉 Have a super 2015 x

  2. Aww Claire, I hope you’re OK. I’m a big fan of “work smarter and not harder” and it’s something I still continue to develop both at work and personally. Well done you on being honest and publishing this post; can be tricky to put yourself out there but I think you were right to share and I hope it gives you some good feelings from your readers, who I know support you. I too suffered a bit of burnout at the end of last year and it really started to affect my relationships. But no more, it’s a new year, new start and we can all learn the lessons of last year. You’re doing incredibly well, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Lots of love xxx

    1. Its good to recognise where you are, so you can do something about it! Now I need to sit down and see where I am…! Your blog is great, your ideas are lovely, I really hope you work it all out and keep going, look after yourself. Sally

    2. Thanks Leanne. To be honest, I never expected these kinds of comments so I’m a bit blown away. It’s lovely to have so much support and friendship through a simple space online. That’s definitely one of the main reasons I’m not gonna stop blogging 🙂 Hope you are feeling OK and on the mend soon too x

  3. Claire,
    Great post! Brave of you to share and admit these things. Blogging is hard and neverending work, and we don’t often see all the sacrifice bloggers make to contribute meaningful content for their readers, not to mention all the other things you have going on. All your sleeploss and creativeness is not going unnoticed, but it sounds like a recharge is due. Hope you take some time much deserved time for yourself. I think 2015 will be a great year and your creativity will continue to shine in a positive way. Hugs to you,
    Michelle

    1. Thanks for your lovely thoughts and words Michelle. I love knowing that one of my oldest friends is here with me on this little creative journey of mine. Especially as we are miles and miles apart. I hope we can sort a visit soon – after a busy year it’s always nice to have something to look forward to. x

  4. I have to admit Claire, I have enjoyed and learned a lot from watching your business grow over the past couple of years, it has been very obvious how hard you work but you never forget anyone and still find time for others. I think 2014 has been a great year for you and I know you like to keep challenging yourself but I think you need to look more at how much you have achieved. Whenever someone talks to me about their online and craft business I always point them to you because you do not hide anything you do and anyone starting out can learn a lot from what you do. Please do factor in some rest time my friend, as wonderful as it is to be successful, your health is so important and we follow you because we care about you and who you are, not just because of your business. Take care of yourself Hannah xxx

    1. Hannah, you have been here right from the start and I am so grateful for your friendship. Thank you for thinking of me when helping others, that means a lot. You and I know how important health is and I am thankful you have reminded me of this. Hugs xx

  5. Claire, I’m so glad you shared this post and I really think that it’s important that some bloggers talk about this openly and cards on table. Running a blog, on the side of a business, on the side of a job and with family and social life thrown in is not for the faint-hearted and I totally see where you’re coming from. I especially think it’s hard for bloggers who are makers and need a lot of prep for their posts such as crafting, DIYing or cooking. I applaud you for your honesty and also for your inspiring work ethic and professionalism on the blog, it really shows that you’re committed to this space being both useful and beautiful and that you’re always pushing yourself to bigger and better things. I think really as you say, the key to sanity is working smarter rather than always more, to force yourself to prioritise rather than always aim for everything to get done, and to force yourself to schedule in breaks within the work day / week / month. Real breaks that give you time and space to recharge emotionally, creatively and physically. You know, I’m so glad we met through the agency and as a blogger, you are a constant inspiration for me. I know you are already getting through this burnout, and I’m wishing you all of the best for this year. Jesse x
    Jesse recently posted…Four Things I Learned this YearMy Profile

    1. Thank you Jesse for your lovely lovely comment! You are too kind. I am so glad we met also. DIY blogging is a lot of hard work and it is nice to know people understand this. Thanks for all your support and hope to see more of you in 2015 x

  6. What a great post Claire – very brave of you to be so open but i have to say it’s so comforting to know that other people feel the exact same way you do. December for me was a month of burnout too – it’s so difficult trying to manage a full-time demanding career whilst trying to maintain and grow a blog into all the things you know it can be and want it to be more than anything. I really hope to become a bigger part of the actually bloggers community this year as i cannot think of better people to share experiences and support with.
    I have to agree with every single comment above too – working smarter is the way forward. I’ve loved reading your blog this year and am in constant admiration for both your creativity and positivity that just shines through your posts!
    Here’s to a fabulous new year 🙂
    Kerry recently posted…Thank You NotesMy Profile

    1. Kerry, I am so sorry you also experienced burnout. What I find most frustrating is something you have touched on – being able to grow the blog into something you know it can be. I struggle with this as I know the potential is there but the time is not! I have to thank you for your online support and for featuring my little studio space too. I was totally honoured! Here’s to a balanced and happy 2015 for us all in the blogging world x

  7. Hi Claire, thank you for sharing this post, I think we can all take something from this. I too burnt myself out and ended up being ill over Christmas. It wasn’t until my other half pointed out that I’m not a robot and I need to stop sometimes that I decided to re-evaluate how I work this year. Your ambition and hard work shines through in your blog and inspires me and lots of others. Thank you for raising these important points for us all to take heed of. Wishing you all the best and a happy new year. Louise xx
    Louise Dawson recently posted…On Instagram in DecemberMy Profile

    1. Sorry to hear you were ill Louise. But I am pleased to hear you have your other half looking out for you. I hope you have a happy, successful and balanced year ahead and hope to catch up with you at another fair soon x

  8. I’m glad you’ve written honestly and openly about this – so many people put a shiny face on it, and never talk about the realities of 9-5ing and 5-9ing. It’s hard and sometimes you think, what the hell am I doing with my life?!
    I’ve struggled with this in the past, too – I wrote about it here: http://mooosh.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/dude-wheres-my-motivation/. Maybe that will strike a chord with you! Chin up, love! Take a breath and plod on x
    Claire recently posted…Hoppy New EarsMy Profile

    1. Thanks Claire, plodding on for a while is what I need I think. Don’t always have to be constantly pushing forward, it’s OK to just ‘be’ for a while. I found your post really useful and related to the ‘should I carry on’ thoughts. xx

  9. I hope that you’re able to take sometime to reflect and get organized, and then I think you’ll feel ready to make decisions for what’s to come. Right now (though I’m sure on a smaller scale) I feel like if only I could have a week or two to really hone in on where I want to go with my etsy/blog/business, I’d feel a renewed passion for it. But doing all that plus other jobs quickly clutters things. Hope you’re able to take a break if you need it and recover from the burnout!

    1. Clutter is definitely the right word! Thanks for your thoughts Angela. The planning is slowly coming together and I’m taking the weekend off to go to the spa. I shall be having an internet free day too. Probably. Man, that’s hard. Btw loving your Instagram!

  10. god love you Claire. you work so so hard and your efforts don’t go unappreciated. you’re an inspiration to everyone who reads your blog, and lord knows i’ve turned to look to you when i need a motivational kick up the bum 😉 rest, Claire. REST. you’re living the dream, Claireabellemakes is like MY FAVE CRAFT BLOG AND I AM NOT JUST SAYING THAT CUZ I AM YOUR BUDDY!!! Much love to you and G and been thinking of you xx
    Jojo recently posted…somewhere in neverlandMy Profile

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