It’s 9pm and I am in a heap on the floor of my bedroom, sobbing. Clothes, papers, and jewelry are strewn about my room from a panicked search. I am working at a prison and I have lost my wallet. It could cost me my job.
I shake as it hits me that the work I love is killing me.
What followed for me was a complete breakdown of my health, career, personal life, and identity. I had experienced burnout. For me, burnout is what happens when we lose the ability to honor ourselves while doing work that we love.
It took years to put the pieces back together. I quit my job, I moved to Europe, I started therapy.
I became obsessed with learning what I could about burnout and developing tools to combat it.
Coming back to myself took some time, but in the process:
I redefined my values.
I developed boundaries.
I created a workplace both myself and my colleagues felt safe and respected.
My career progressed, and before I turned 40 I had a high paying c-suite director position. I had achieved what some people spent their entire career striving for.
But funny thing: the higher I climbed, the less I lived.
I knew, particularly with the challenges of being a leader, that it was only a matter of time before I burned out again. It felt inevitable in that work environment. You see I had changed positions, organizations, and even cities, but I wasn’t yet aware that in burnout, it takes two to tango.
My lack of boundaries, self-worth, and misaligned allegiance to overwork was an inevitable set up. My workplace gave lip service to inclusion and wellness while demonstrating very clearly that what was valued and expected was sacrifice.
Complete self-sacrifice for the “team” was self-betrayal. And when I decided to leave, they were shocked because all of a sudden my allegiance to myself couldn’t be ignored.
And yet I knew it didn’t have to be that way. You shouldn’t have to give your soul in order to excel at your career. There were simple adjustments that could be made that would enable people to work less AND be impactful. There were tools that could be taught that could maximize how we work, so that we could live more.
So I quit my job and started Kelley Bonner Consulting where I’m on a mission to help everyone around me live better, fuller lives by aligning how they work and live.