Sep 03, 2022

In this episode, I'm going to be answering a question submitted through Ask BIT. If you have any questions about Burned-In Teacher, me and how I'm applying my own process to my life as a teacher, or how this applies to your burnout, submit your question to Ask BIT and I’ll answer your question on an upcoming episode of The Burned-In Teacher Podcast. 

Here is the question that I’ll be answering in this episode: 


Hi, Amber, this is Mary Beth. I'm a new Burned-In Teacher member as of this summer, and this fall is my first try at managing my workload because I'm Burned and Unbalanced. My burning question is all about my personality. The different evaluations that I did on myself as part of this program all indicated that I am super high in caring and about being seen as responsible, dependable, consistent, and a perfectionist, so all of these things drive me to basically work myself crazy. I'm trying to stop but I don't know how. What is the key to feeling okay, with doing less when every part of your personality wants to drive you to do the very best or to do more? What’s the secret is for being at peace with changing the way that I do things?


This is such a great question because I know that so many teachers out there that are listening to this episode feel this way. I know that I relate to this.  

This question has two parts. The first question is: What is the key to being okay with doing less when every part of your personality is pushing to do the very best or to do more?  And the other question is:  What is the secret to being at peace with changing the way that I do things?  I'm going to answer these two questions starting with the first one.


What is the key to being okay with doing less when every part of your personality is pushing to do the very best or to do more?

#1: Focus forward. 

What you're going to do first is focus forward and stop focusing on the results of your personality tests. Instead, focus on what you want to be. This goes back to the “Be-Do-Have” mentality that I talked about in a previous episode and focusing on who you want to be, and what that person would do so that you can have what you want to have. 

The personality assessments - the Enneagram and 16 Personalities - is really great for figuring out who you are now in the moment. But the most important part of those personality assessments is really thinking about what you want to be true for yourself moving forward, what you feel are your strengths and what it is that you need to work on. And the fact is we all know that the “perfectionist personality” - the type-A perfectionist, control freak, people pleaser that a lot of us wear or have worn in the past as a badge of honor. That is a very unhealthy place to be and it’s the perfect recipe for burnout.

 #2: Practice thought catching and you are going to create rebuttals 

Practice thought catching and you are going to create rebuttals for when you hear what I call “Perfectionist Patty” show up in your brain - this is the it needs to be perfect, it’s not good enough to use or do so I have to start over, or nitpick at this thing until it's absolutely Pinterest worthy.  When your brain which has been training you for so long to believe that you're not doing enough and that you are not enough if you're not perfect, you have to flip the script on your brain and retrain it. So when your brain tells you to keep working even though you know that you are ready to be done, you have to tell yourself, No. In Burned-In Teacher University, I talk about the different boundaries that we have to set in our lives and you actually need to build a boundary with your brain, and you have to develop rebuttals for when Perfectionist Patty shows up and tries to tell you that you're not good enough, you are going to tell your brain, No

#3: Repeat this mantra: Done is better than perfect. 

Repeat this mantra I want you to write this down: done is better than perfect. This is good enough for now. If it needs to be improved for the sake of my students and not for looks, I can come back later and fix it. 

#4: Create a time budget and stick with it. 

The fourth step for this first part of the question is to create a time budget and stick with it. If you’re thinking, What do you mean budget your time? I have a resource for you in my Teachers Pay Teachers store called the Burned-In Teacher Time Budgeter.  This resource is going to help you to go step by step to create a time allowance, and a time budget based on what you want to do and how you want to feel outside of teaching because you are a human first my friends. 


What is the secret to being at peace with changing the way that I do things?

The second part of this question was what is the secret for being at peace with changing the way that I do things?  I love this question so much because teacher guilt is a real thing because we want to serve our kids so hard and we want them to be successful. 

These things I’m going to mention I'd suggest you do after you implement the first four things I asked you to reflect on from the first question because that really is going to be your first step. And I want to be honest with you, this may take several days or even several weeks.  You are retraining your brain and you are taking back your own control, so this is going to take some time.  It's not going to be an overnight thing.  There is no quick fix for these changes.  Instead you take very small steps and see gradual changes over time. And I think that's so hard right now, because we're so used to instant gratification and we want things to be fixed/changed immediately.  This work - growing through your burnout - is going to take time, so give yourself some grace.  

The first part of my answer is to show yourself grace and self compassion. Imagine that you're talking to a friend who is asking you this question.  I suppose you might say something along the lines of, You're doing the best that you can with what you have now, everything will be okay.  

I'm going to put this out there too: you need to meet yourself where you are first, and then help yourself to get to where you want to be. When you're meeting yourself where you are when you have those nasty negative thoughts, you're saying, No, that's not true and you're developing those rebuttals for that negative self-talk by saying, No, this is enough, I am enough.   

For example, let's say you've set a time budget, and you've told yourself, Today I am leaving at four o’clock.  But when four o’clock rolls around and you feel like you still have too much to do, tell yourself, I did the best I could with the time and energy I had today and it will be here tomorrow.  I have to go. Give yourself a pat on the back for all the things you did accomplish, pack up your things, and go. And if it makes you feel better, write a sticky note to yourself that says this is what needs to be done first tomorrow, then leave and don't touch anything else. 

I know it's so hard because I do this myself. Show yourself grace. Show yourself Self Compassion. And although you're setting boundaries with your brain, and you're developing those rebuttals, you also need to talk kindly and encourage yourself through showing some self compassion. 

Secondly, be grateful for where you are. I've talked about this before - I am very grateful for my burnout because it has brought me to this place where I’m at right now.  Be grateful for where you are on your burnout journey. You now have hope where you didn't have it before and you have a plan of action, where you didn't. You're on this journey for a reason and being grateful for our journey, and the fact that we are here meeting ourselves where we are and focusing forward is such a gift. It's such a luxury to have a choice and to make changes. 

 Third, find a community to lean on when that negative self talk is the loudest. Find someone to show you compassion when you are not showing it to yourself.  There are two ends of this burnout spectrum: there’s stage zero all the way through stage five. And it's interesting that in stage zero, and stage one, when you are at your rock bottom, most burned out state and experience feelings of isolation, you actually find a lot of company because misery does enjoy company. But when you're feeling really good about what you're doing and the choices you're making for yourself, you can feel even more isolated  because you feel like you can’t celebrate how well you're doing and the changes that you're making. 

To all of you teachers out there who are struggling with burnout, I want to encourage you to find someone in your life that can be your accountability buddy.  Find someone that will help you to keep your promises and will be that builder upper and will celebrate those wins, and to show you compassion when you're not showing it to yourself. 

And finally, step four, when you're talking to yourself, or you're doubting your choices, and you're trying to move forward, I want you to stop and take a deep breath and I want you to say I am doing the best that I can right now with the tools that I have right now. It will be okay.  There is hope and the fact that you all are here today listening today proves that you are ready to do the work to make the changes that you need to grow through your burnout and live a happier, more fulfilled life.



  1. Focus Forward; start focusing on who you want to be. 
  2. Pay attention to your negative self-talk and craft rebuttal statements for them. 
  3. Create a time budget and stick with it! (Click here to get my Time Budgeter resource on TpT!)



The Burned-In Teacher Podcast Episode 84: Be - Do - Have



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