I don’t mind sharing with you that I have a fondness for Brit rock; specifically the band Queen, whom I believe to be the best band of all time. It occurred to me today that I could use them to illustrate a really important point about pressure, burnout, and self-care.
Don’t go anywhere yet, I’m serious about this. Hear me out.
In the span of seven years, from 1973 to 1980, they put out NINE studio albums, and a live album. To achieve this must have required a perpetual cycle of recording an album, releasing it, touring the world to promote it, then repeating the whole cycle for YEARS on end. In this span of time they released tremendous hits including Bohemian Rhapsody, Another One Bites the Dust, and We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions. These songs were artfully crafted, and justifiably hugely successful throughout the world. The pressure to continue to churn out even more hits must have been incredible.
I imagine that in order to be able to put out ten albums in 7 years, the band members couldn’t have possibly taken too much down time for rest and relaxation, if any at all. I would argue that this lack of self-care, this lack of time to re-charge took a tremendous toll on the quality of their creative output.
Case in point: 1982’s Hot Space; Queen’s 10th studio album. This album is universally acknowledged to be the WORST Queen album of all time. Despite the rare gem of Under Pressure, this album is just a collection of poorly produced, slapped-together disco-themed drudgery, which happened to be released just as the disco craze was dying down in America. On the face of it, it’s just completely tragic, and it’s awfulness is even more so apparent when compared to their earlier work. It’s obvious the band was beyond burnt out by this point in their career. It took a break of several years after this album to recover and get back to producing some quality music again.
Have I sufficiently painted a word picture for you of how horrendous this album is? Great, let’s continue.
My point is this: putting your nose to the grindstone SEEMS like a smart idea if you want to achieve massive success quickly, but it’s really really not. Maybe you’ll find yourself doing it not because you think it’s a good idea, but because you put tremendous pressure on yourself to work towards something day in and day out. The thing is, the pace of tirelessly working with no breaks for rest and self-care may lead to short-term gains, but it also comes with long-term costs. It inevitably leads to major burnout; the ability to work or create is either completely gone, or, the quality of the output substantially suffers.
Avoiding burnout requires a proactive approach. If you’re looking to achieve a certain goal, a certain measure of success, it’s important to strategically plan some time to relax and take care of yourself along the way. Additionally it’s a good idea to plan some points of celebration; even little things you can do for yourself to celebrate certain milestones or accomplishments is helpful. It’s equally important to be mindful about the pace at which you’re working, to take good care of yourself. When you do this, you’re honoring yourself and your work, and you’re better able to put more greatness out into the world.