Peak Burn-out

March 20, 2008

It’s common among the crash watching and crash blogging fraternity to come across comments to the effect that; “yes, we’re providing all this information about how to prepare for the crash but only a small percentage of readers actually seem to be acting on it”.

My own experience of this is that a constant diet of crash-horror-news seems to wear away at me and steal my energy and my initiative. Clearly I’m not alone, here’s a recent article by Richard Heinberg addressing the issue of burn out amongst the peak oil community, and here’s the best bit:

I suspect that the burden of dire knowledge is exacerbated by the psychophysical impact of too much time on the computer and not enough outdoors. It’s an occupational hazard: those of us who are aware of the impending collision of resource depletion with population growth and climate instability have acquired whatever understanding we have through countless hours tracking trends, peering at graphs, and noting news items on glowing screens. Assuming you’re reading my words on-line right now, you might want to bookmark this page and jump for a moment to http://homenet.hcii.cs.cmu.edu/, the site of an on ongoing research project of Carnegie Mellon University that has concluded that “Greater use of the Internet is associated with increases in loneliness and symptoms of depression.”

I’ve written before about the emotional toll the internet seems to take on me so I’ll definitely be checking out that link when I get time.

Richard Heinberg’s article is good but I always find being told what I should do is not nearly so energising (which is the issue here) as being told what someone else has done,  so here’s a comment from Dan that I got a lot out of:

A year or two back, whenever I set out to do something, I always had”the crash” in the back of my head. Whenever I embarked on something that would take time, I wondered, do I have the time? Shouldn’t I be buying food or land?

In the end, it became a self-destructive habit. It just slowed me down and made me unhappy. I was telling myself everything was urgent, and then burning myself out before I started. like a dieter trying to avoid everything and then going on big chocolate binges.

I’m not doubting the possibility of a crash, but a personal development focus without worrying about global economic meltdown works better for me. I get more done, I’m happier, and I’m still aware of potential trouble up ahead. The stronger, smarter and happier I become, the more of an asset and a beacon I can be if a crash does get messy. My thinking has become much more individual-focused over the last year–it’s individuals who bring on revolutions and change lives. And it doesn’t take that many! Apparently the Enlightenment was the work of only 1000 or so people. They worked hard, shared, taught and spread their message and society quickly hit a tipping point and jumped to a social context unimaginable 10 years before.

The more I change and free me, the more potential I see in the world. Not just for avoiding a horrible crash, but for achieving so much more in all areas. I’ve started exploring this kind of potential in ch11 [of my book] and will continue to in ch12 (coming soon) of the first drafts.

Clearly my emphasis needs to be on making things right for my family life – certainly if I can get that right we’ll all be a lot stronger.


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