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Is Your Life a Blaze of Glory or a Smoldering Pile of Ashes?

Maybe you started off on fire – you loved your job or your new position and you tore into it like a bat outta heck.  You worked long hours, tried new things, your energy was unstoppable!  Or maybe it was a new relationship, home, baby, hobby – you name it.  In the beginning, we’re all amazing!  We read books, take classes, can’t sleep – we’re so excited!

Fast forward to today.  Meh.

Maybe you started taking longer lunches or just not expressing your opinions in meetings.  Maybe you’ve started thinking more about retirement, when you used to say you’d never retire.  Maybe you don’t even change the oil regularly in a car you used to spend your weekends detailing.

Time to light some fires, people!  This is your cool job, car, house, spouse, child!  This is your life!  Let’s get you back to blazing glory:

  1. Go to a show! For pretty much everything I’ve mentioned, there’s a conference, trade show, or get together for it (even if it’s just an online discussion group). Every time I attend one of my speakers’ conferences I get re-energized about my profession.  Get out there!
  2. Practice appreciation. Think about where you were before – lonely, in a bad job, taking the bus.  Remind yourself of how great it was to get what you wanted.  Think about all the people who don’t have what you have.  Be grateful.
  3. Do some soul searching.  If you aren’t on fire anymore, is this the life you want?  Do you need to change jobs/ask for a different assignment?  What can you do to rekindle the fire in your relationships?  Plan a great adventure with your partner?  Or the whole family?  Or do you need to let go?  See #8.  If you are waiting for someone else to do the heavy lifting in your life, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.  And you’re going to keep wallowing in the ashes.
  4. Take a break.  Maybe you just need a real vacation.  Not a staycation, not a “I’m out of the office, but really still working” cation. A vacation.  With NO work.  Maybe you need a break from the kids (hello, grandma!) or from your spouse.  Seriously, take separate vacations – you may be surprised at how much you miss him or her.  A break can give you clarity.
  5. Get new stuff. Maybe you can redecorate your house or upgrade your work technology or spend some money fixing up your car.  A new tool or a change in your environment might be enough to rekindle your flame.
  6. Focus on what you love. Why did you take the job, marry the person, buy the house in the first place?  What do you love about it/them?  Most people I know love some aspect of their job – maybe it’s the people they work with or the chance to help others.  Maybe it’s that they get to be outside all day (or inside) or that they have flexible hours.  Remind yourself of how fantastic that is and see if you can’t maximize what you love and minimize what you don’t.
  7. Get a new thing to be excited about.  Maybe you can start a new project at work that will re-engage you.  Maybe you can talk with your boss about some new challenges or even a new position.  Maybe the family can start a cool new hobby together that will reconnect everyone.  Sometimes bringing something new into your life can energize you about everything else.  I recently bought a new house and it has changed everything – my office, my workout routine, my relationship – everything!  So exciting!

Note – the new thing must never involve being dishonest (I don’t want you to think I’m recommending having an affair!).  You want to bring some ashes into your life, wrong someone else.  Lying lessens who you are, always walk in truth.

  1. Let go of what no longer works for you. If you don’t love anything about your job – do everyone a favor and find another one.    Please don’t stay where you are and turn the rest of our lives into heaps of smoldering ashes.   This may sound strong, but I truly believe if you are really miserable, you need to go.  This is for your sake – misery is often a signal that your talents are needed elsewhere.  But it’s also for everyone else’s sake.  There is someone out there who would be thrilled to have your job!  They would love to own your car!  They would be delighted to live in your house!  And they would give their whole heart to be with your spouse.  Don’t your co-workers deserve someone on fire to work with them?  Doesn’t your spouse deserve someone who really loves them?   If you really hate where you are and have no hope/desire to make it better, go.                                                                                                                                             I once heard it said that if your hands are full, the Universe can’t give you anything.  You’re not going to get a new job if you spend all your time and energy at the current one.   I’m not saying quit tomorrow, I’m saying you have to decide what you want and create some space to work towards it.  Let go of what is no longer working for you to make space for something new.
  2. Leaders – watch for burnout (that’s what this is about – burnout) in your people. Look for the following: they don’t seem to care about the quality of their work, they don’t seem engaged in meetings, and they drag in in the morning and can’t wait to get out in the afternoon.  What can you do to rekindle their fire?  Can you send them to a conference or give them some professional development?  Can you spend some money to upgrade their equipment or redecorate the offices?  The best place to start is by talking to them one-on-one.  Tell them what you’re noticing and ask what you can do to help.  Go armed with some suggestions if they go quiet on you.  Ask lots of questions and listen carefully to their responses.  And always remember that one approach won’t work for all.
  3. Remind yourself – life is a grand adventure!  Try new things, make space for what you love, mix up your routine.  Routine gets boring after a while and we get burned out.  Life is too short and has too much potential to amaze us to accept burnout.  Arise, my little phoenixes!


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ben matthews
5 years ago

it is amazing that you send this now–It is soooo helpful. It seems that you send out one of your messages just when I need to hear/see it. The blame article comes to mind. You are so insightful and have such wisdom to be so young. May the universe continue to give you strength.

5 years ago

We are all blessed that you are such a gifted and motivating speaker. Your messages always seem to be from the heart and inspire those of us who truly need a spark. I hope you never run out of fuel! God Bless!!

5 years ago

I LOVE your newsletter! It’s always spot on, and it reads just like it’s you talking to us! Thanks for the positive words, as always! And I can’t wait to hear about your new house!!!

5 years ago

Inspiring, as always! Number 8 is a Life Lesson; the other nine are “extra credits”!

Connie Gray
5 years ago

Just read your amazing email. Our office just spent the entire summer shorthanded by one person. Talk about burnout! We were all burned out. But, we made it through like little troopers and have risen from the ashes of a horrible summer. We have a new girl, who is doing a fantastic job. The rest of us can breathe a little easier now. This all happened because a long time employee did a number 8 on us. She moved on. Turns out it was a good thing for her and for the rest of us, although it did not seem… Read more »

5 years ago

Thank you for these energizing emails about being greatfull for life and what we have, and a reminder on how to move forward in life when you might be stuck in a rut.
I feel like I have these inspiring conversations with my friends but no one talks to me this way. So it’s nice to hear this uplifting advice on how to make life exciting and remind us/me that life is short! Have fun with it!

Carole Johnston
5 years ago

Hi Denise,

Just want to say Thanks! for your energizing emails! I attended your presentation at the ICMA conference in Charlotte.
Since then I’ve had more gusto for getting things done – which can be a little tough since I’m retired and don’t sleep well. So, keep up the good work of re-igniting. You are quite the Fire Star!


Diane Godwin
5 years ago

You always know when to send this letter. You are amazing — love it.

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