From Exhaustion to Burnout and the Path Back to Sanity

Illustrator and artist, Lisa Congdon, on success, failure, and the way back home.

We have a lot of stories and fantasies about success.

We believe that the house with the white picket fence and the two-car garage and the money in savings with more money always flowing in, is success. And we believe that when we reach that level of success we will be happy. Or at least a hell of a lot happier than we are now. Because we will be safe and secure and free. Free to do what our heart desires, what our soul longs for.

Lisa Congdon, artist, illustrator and by most definitions, extremely successful entrepreneur, had all of that. And then she burntout.

“I think it is really true that we have these fantasies about every aspect of life and in reality every aspect of life has hard things and easy things and good things and bad things and just understanding that and accepting that and learning from that is the important thing.”

When Lisa when her 30’s she woke up to realize that she was living life as an automaton. She didn’t want to life life as an automaton and so she began making art. Not as a career, just as a way to find something she’d lost along the path of growing up.

It turns out she was really good at art. And hustling.

For ten years Lisa worked her ass off. She accepted almost every job that came through. She said yes even when she felt the urgings to say no. She went beyond her comfort zone over and over again. And it paid off. She grew a social media following to over 149,000. She got clients with folks like Harvard University, Random House Books, and Martha Stewart Living. She wrote several NY Times Bestselling books including, and she made art, full-time, for a living.

But all that work took its toll and in 2016, Lisa suffered from burnout.

“I was juggling a lot and that overwhelm, I could only manage it for so long. I had basically had a nervous breakdown. I just had a breaking point where I became increasingly overwhelmed with the cumulative effect of so many years of stress and so many projects. And never being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

In September of that year Lisa made a decision: No more. No more saying “Yes” to everything. No more making art ALL the time. No more living constantly outside her comfort zone. As Lisa says,

“My M.O. for the last ten years has been about being outside of my comfort zone. My goals have been about pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. No wonder I had so much stress. My goal right now is to stay inside of my comfort zone.”

And she began to meditate. To slow life down. To find a new normal that included health and happiness and sanity.

Lisa is one of the most successful artists online. And, thankfully for all of us, she’s also one of the most honest. In her conversation with me on The Creativity Habit podcast, Lisa shares truthfully about social media anxiety, art, activism and dealing with push-back, the reality behind the magic curtain of success, and how she went from exhaustion to burnout and the path back to sanity.

You can listen to all that and more my conversation with Lisa Congdon here.

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