Nataly Kogan speaking on stage in a yellow jacket at the Nonprofit Leadership Conference

3 Ways to Beat Burnout & Become a More Awesome Human

Team NLC Leadership

True or false? If you follow your passion, you will never work a day in your life. According to best-selling author and speaker Nataly Kogan, this is a myth. That’s because loving what you do doesn’t beat burnout; it often increases it.

Nataly Kogan looked like a ray of sunshine as she stood in a bright yellow jacket on the ballroom stage at the 2022 Nonprofit Leadership Conference. With a dazzling grin on her face, she broke the news to the eager audience:

“If you love your work, you give yourself to it,” Nataly said. “People in mission-driven jobs doing work they are passionate about have the highest risk of burnout and often report lower levels of well-being and resilience.”

Why? Because when you love your work and find it meaningful, you can be at risk of only growing the work part of your life.

Nataly defines burnout as consistently feeling like you don’t have the capacity to do what’s on your plate or feeling like you’re on empty. She says a common symptom of burnout is dreading and resenting work you love.

“You can’t unleash your awesomeness through your work accomplishments,” Nataly shared. “The only way to unleash your awesomeness is by honoring your humanness,” she shared.

And she knows from personal experience. As an entrepreneur, executive and refugee, Nataly learned this lesson the hard way. For decades, she pursued meaningful success by pushing herself beyond her limits, wearing exhaustion as a badge of honor, and ignoring her emotional and mental health. Until she burned out and almost lost everything meaningful to her, including her company, family and health.

Now, she’s on a mission to help others unleash their humanness to beat burnout and thrive at work and in life.

Nataly Kogan’s Three Daily Steps to Beat Burnout

1. Practice emotional awareness.

Improvement is impossible without awareness. That’s why Nataly recommends setting aside time every day to check in with yourself to ask: “How am I feeling?” Be honest and specific with your feelings. As you consider your answer, try to witness it without judgment. Don’t try to “fix” negative emotions; instead, ask yourself: “What is one thing I can do to support myself today?” For Nataly, it’s spending some quiet time alone in the mornings.

READ NEXT: Do These 3 Things Daily to Be a More Courageous Leader

2. Manage your energy (aka self-care).

Nataly is determined to rebrand self-care because she says too many people treat it as a self-indulgent gift after caring for all the other things and people in their life.

“Would you ever ask your car if it has done enough to deserve filling up the gas tank? Never! Self-care is the same for people — it’s non-negotiable. It’s a daily skill you need if you want to do all the things you want to do,” Nataly shared.

“Self-care is intentionally fueling your energy by doing fewer things that unnecessarily drain it,” she added.

Nataly says one of the easiest ways to practice self-care and beat burnout is to do one thing at a time. “Multi-tasking actually drains energy and can result in 20% less productivity with each task,” she stated. “When you catch yourself starting to multi-task, ask yourself if what you’re doing feels good. Often, the answer is no.”

Additionally, Nataly suggests scheduling 10 to 30 minutes for a mini fuel-up every day:

  • Put it on your calendar.
  • Make it a daily promise to yourself.
  • Ask yourself what you can do to fuel your energy and recharge.
  • Create a little ritual to begin that is the same every day, such as closing your laptop, putting your phone in a drawer and walking away from your desk. This can help your brain begin to relax, even in the middle of the day between tasks.
  • Step away from all screens.

READ NEXT: Self-Care Tips for Nonprofit Leaders

3. Practice your joy (outside of work).

Nataly says a significant cause of burnout is not doing too much; it’s not doing enough of what fuels your joy. To beat burnout, she recommends doing things outside of work that bring you joy because “joy is your life’s fuel.”

Start adding more joy to your day by being more intentional when making your to-do list. “You cannot give what you don’t have,” Nataly warned. She recommends thinking of someone you love when you make that commitment to yourself because you are making the same commitment to them.

Finally, Nataly reminded the audience that the most important relationship you’ll ever have is the one you have with yourself. The way you treat others is rooted in how you treat yourself. If you want to be more patient with others, be more patient with yourself. “There are no shortcuts on this,” she says.

Charlie Imbergamo, Mindy Murphy and Nataly Kogan at the Nonprofit Leadership Conference
Speaker selfie! Charlie Imbergamo, CFRE, Nonprofit Leadership Center Director of Strategic Programs; Mindy Murphy, The Spring CEO, & Nataly Kogan

Ready to get started? There’s no time like the present! Once you commit to these three daily steps to beat burnout, you’ll be on your way to increased emotional awareness, improved energy management and greater joy.

READ NEXT: How to Silence Your Inner Judge: 4 Ways to Stop Negative Self-Talk