134: Finding Space with Sean McCabe

Another great subject and with good information. I would like to add to this conversation. There was considerable information about the topic of ‘Burn out’. This is a real topic and very important that needs to be discussed.

I would like to add that there is significant overlap of burn-out and depression. Many of the symptoms described also correspond with some mental health disorders. Being aware of what are the symptoms of burn-out versus a clinical disorder is beyond the scope of this podcast.

My $0.02 is that if you are having some of the symptoms described, it may be worthwhile to also seek professional help to rule out anything more serious.

Keep up the great work.


Agree this was a good discussion and a lot more cognisant of jobby job folks than previous ones which is appreciated.

… that said I can’t help but feel this whole concept is deconstructing & then rebuilding “The weekend” & “taking regular holidays/vacations” that the vast majority of workers (in UK & Europe at least) take :joy:.

Not poking holes to be mean, rather, it makes me chuckle to hear that regular down-time can be considered so revolutionary and generate so much air time.

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Dare I say that I find these discussions, like the one in this episode, (a bit) obnoxious?

Just think of all the people (the majority!) that have to do tedious and hard labor day in day out. Run multiple jobs just to keep their families running. Have long commutes to get to that (shitty) “jobby job” (a horrendous term by the way). And here we have a couple of “spoiled kids” discussing the “first world” problems of how how difficult life is being on a few Zoom calls each day. How much you need a sabbatical [sic] to recover from writing a blogpost a day or creating a Youtube clip every week.

I’m no blue-collar worker either. But have huge respect for the people that do the hard work to keep the world running. That work in all kinds of (weather) conditions (not everybody lives in SoCal). And don’t have the luxury of doing only the things they like. Not even if they got “less” money; the so-called “cost of happiness” as mentioned by David. Less money is relative b.t.w.

Come on guys, a little bit of perspective would be fine.

People can suffer from burn-out which tends to have something to do with a lack of satisfaction with one’s job for a myriad of reasons. Jobs can get old, uninspiring even though and perhaps especially when they are careers. You tend to have a lot more self-worth involved in a career as opposed to just a job, particularly an unskilled one.

People tend to put more of themselves into a career and go beyond a standard education. Whereas someone in a third world country or having a lesser skilled type job may have more vested in other areas of their lives. Their self-worth may not be as wrapped up in their jobs.

Clinical depression results in a lack of joy in anything and everything, in most or all aspects of your life being perceived as inadequate and it is not something that can easily be crawled out from under by taking a leave to rejuvenate, refocus or pick up something more rewarding.

Depression and burn-out I’d contend are actually two very different things. While with a new career or rejuvenation of your chosen career, you won’t be crawling out of deep depression and you won’t be worrying about the existentialism that life may possibly hold for you.

In the case of burn-out perhaps a career counselor might be of help. Or certainly podcasts about burn-out might help. Brainstorming with mind maps might give you insight, allowing you to refocus. Reframing your situation if you do not have the luxury of selecting a different career.

Now recognizing how much burn-out is accompanied by general malaise can be useful. Clinical depression can and most likely does involve a lack of self-worth. Counseling can help perhaps.

There are professionals that believe that low amounts of neurotransmitters in the brain cause depression. But depression can be learned to some extent and then you may end up with a chicken vs. egg point of view. The medicines can help.

A career boost can help even out other aspects of your life. And no one should feel self-indulgent because they try to find a way out of a career slump! It is absurd! That peasant in a third world country may have a thoroughly rewarding life or not (most likely somewhat). (And I never really was able to send my dreaded chop suey to China that I was so fortunate to have as a kid. It would have rotted.)

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I think the hope is to normalize the prospect, or possibility, of taking a sabbatical, in the hopes that it will eventually filter through all professions. I’m pretty sure Sean mentioned this at some point in the podcast. Let’s face it, almost everyone works too much. Everyone working less and having the opportunity to pursue other things would be great. It has to start somewhere, though.

I for one was excited to follow Sean’s sabbatical blog, but he quickly stopped updating it for obvious reasons during the pandemic. Looking forward to his book and a sabbatical of my own someday!

I don’t think they lack that respect just because they didn’t verbally qualify the conversation. I wouldn’t assume you lack that respect if you hadn’t said it in your post, just as I wouldn’t assume I lost my own respect if I didn’t mention it. I try to avoid committing the fundamental attribution error.

I also think the hosts and guests understand how fortunate they are to be able to pursue a focused life instead of having others control most of their time, as many endure.

I will admit Sean’s work and goals, as presented on the show, didn’t interest or challenge me as much as I was hoping, but that doesn’t invalidate his career choice or list of responsibilities.

Thanks for the reminder of what for many is everyday life reality. I think it’s easy in this context to forget that many people do not have the choices that we have. Yesterday my wife and I were on the telephone with an old friend who, at age 62 feels it necessary to work full time swing shift in a factory (along with her husband who is 64) just to pay the mortgage and not lose their home, and to pay for the necessities of life. He lost his tech job last December, and both of them find reemployment at their age very difficult. Age discrimination is a real thing, and receives almost no attention in our culture. In view of their reality, it does seem a bit unreal when people talk about “having” to take one week off out of every seven, or how things are “strained” financially when always having the money to buy the latest Apple luxury items or the option to choose expensive entertainment for their families. As you say, money (as most things) is relative. Perhaps we need to focus more on being grateful for the options and choices we have, while recognizing that many don’t have those same choices? At the same time it’s good to recognize that “burnout” is a real thing, and steps can be taken to prevent it. In the realm being talked about here, much of that burnout is self-inflicted, where people choose to work without breaks because they value production, creation, fame, or money more than time off, or perhaps are building a business and feel they need to put in the extra hours to succeed. (Been there, done that).

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I don’t think this response is very fair given the likely audience of the podcast. I listen to this podcast because I’m a lawyer whose top work struggles are regulating my mental energy and attention - my partner does not listen to this podcast because he is a home remodeler and therefore his top work struggles are physical exertion and workplace safety. It would not make sense to tailor this podcast towards him, because he’s not listening.

It also doesn’t make sense for him to listen to this podcast because the fundamental concepts behind his work are different - people come to him and say “please rewire my kitchen” and he does it. Difficult work, yes, but still a different skillset than content creators, who are trying to come up with something interesting for an audience of people who are not a monolith of thought and opinion. Sean, David and Mike are not getting emails that say “Please write an article about Obsidian,” doing so, then checking it off their list. A “sabbatical” as Sean described it will likely be more helpful in that creative field to improve work than it would be for someone whose work is a series of tasks that repeat. Granted, everyone needs vacations, but my boyfriend is not likely going to spend a vacation coming up with a better way to wire a kitchen.

Perspective is useful, but using your own rhetoric to a final conclusion, those “blue-collar” workers should be grateful to live somewhere where they have clean water and paved roads that allow them to have their jobs. And the issues facing many knowledge workers - lack of boundaries for work hours, coming up with “new” ideas, managing a brain that was not evolved to sit at a desk all day - seems to be the focus (pun intended) of this podcast, not the general issues with work and society.