Don’t Burn Out in the First Month of the Year 

 Don’t Burn Out in the First Month of the Year

See 2023 as a marathon, not a sprint. Run it accordingly.

Photo: Getty Images


We are just about two weeks into the new year and I’m already noticing a trend among friends and colleagues: People are already feeling stressedoverwhelmed, and exhausted from all that there is to do this year.


I totally get it. You come back from what was (hopefully!) a nice relaxing week or two off. You come up with your new year’s resolutions and goals and aspirations; and come January, you want to hit the ground running. Yet research shows that most new year’s resolutions will be abandoned by January 18. 


This is your reminder that it’s OK to take things slow, to ease back into work, and to pace yourself


In my teaching and writing, I love quoting Matthew Kelly, author of The Long View:


Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, and underestimate what they can do in a month. We overestimate what we can do in a year, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade.


It can feel tempting to come up with a list of resolutions on December 31 and want to spring into action the next day. But you’ve got to pace yourself and play the long game, especially when it comes to doing meaningful and impactful work.


I believe that resilience isn’t merely enduring as much pain as possible. It’s ensuring that you remain strong for the long haul.


You don’t need to accomplish everything in January, but you do need to take care of your mental and physical health


Many folks have a new year’s resolution around exercise, and there’s a helpful analogy for understanding how we approach our year of work and impact. I see lots of folks coming back and doing the equivalent of five straight days of super intense HIIT workouts, and then finding themselves exhausted and with strained muscles. Our annual fitness goals won’t be determined by five days in January; they will be determined by conscious and consistent progress throughout the year. It’s the same with the meaningful work we hope to accomplish these next 12 months.


This mindset is also crucial for leaders of teams. You set the tone, and people will be looking to you for guidance on what is expected. Are you filling your January calendar with as many meetings as possible? No doubt your team will follow suit. Or are you encouraging your colleagues and direct reports to build up momentum as we start 2023 by giving them some space and setting an example they can follow? The latter will promote a culture of psychological safety on the team; the former may get short-term results but will risk burnout contagion.


So, take a deep breath. Take the pressure off. And remember that there are 50 more weeks ahead of you.

You’ve got this!


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