I’m so excited about this project that I work nonstop and burn out

Creative Boundaries


The Context

It's difficult to set boundaries when you're passionate. With so much exhilaration and velocity around a new project, you simply can't help yourself from going all out, all the time. There are too many neurotransmitters firing. All that sweet dopamine and oxytocin pumping through your veins, rewarding and reinforcing the exploration and connection required for the pursuit of passion, who wants to stop to that? And yet, if limits are not set, if the flame is not tempered with some regularity, then we can easily fall into the trap of over executing. And our fire will become deadly. Either burning us, burning the work, burning those around us, or fizzling out and leaving us buried under a pile of ashes.

The Tool

two color

Creative Boundaries

CREATIVE BOUNDARIES — Locating your own sense of healthy creative rhythm to avoid passion burnout

It's like the dog who breaks into the pantry and gobbles up eight pounds of kibble when the owners are asleep. Within minutes, the poor pup grows restless. He starts panting, drooling, retching and is unable to lie down in a comfortable position. His swollen belly looks like a barrel. And with that pathetic look of guilt on his face, which is really just anthropomorphized fear, people can't help but feel bad for him. Veterinarians call this behavior canine glutton bloat. It's a food binge that can become very serious very quickly. In some severe cases, the dog may need to be sedated and have his stomach pumped. But it's not their fault. Dogs don't know any better. They're idiots. They love everything. They're highly passionate creatures. And when they're hungry, it's game on. Carlin summarized best. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, my favorite thing! Oh boy, oh boy, this is great! All the kibble in the world. That's why veterinarians tell dog owners to set boundaries. To take appropriate measures to keep their pets from getting into unintended food sources. Lock the pantry, take out the garbage, pet proof the house, create train the animal, keep food stored in a sealed bin, and so on. Funny, this is actually great advice for humans too. Especially when we're deep in throes of our passion. After all, passion is any state that has the power to overwhelm us.

Scott's Take

Scott's Take

As tempting as it may be for me to work fourteen hours straight without a pee break, I still have to remember to pace myself. To trust the tempo of nature's timing. And try not to eat the whole bag of kibble on the first day. Even if my brain justifies the binge with the excuse that it doesn't feel like work, after a while, my body will disagree. Besides, if we're so passionate about this work, then odds are, we'll be doing it for a long time. And in order to sustain it, eventually, we will need to locate our own sense of healthy rhythm. Even the most enthusiastic zeal is sure to be quenched.

The Rest

Remember, boundaries are an elevated expression of love for ourselves. If we don't set them, then we are enabling toxicity. How will boundaries make the freedom of your passion possible?

The Benefits

Insure yourself against the temptation to overwork
Avoid burnout along the creative journey
Pace yourself sustainably with long term projects
Prevent yourself from over executing to the detriment of your physical, mental, emotional and social health

Table of Contents