Change is often feared and resisted. We tend to find comfort in our routines and familiarity, even if they no longer serve us. It often takes a significant event or crisis to push us out of our comfort zones and force us to confront the need for change. For me, exactly this moment came in the form of burnout, a moment of intense physical and mental exhaustion that I couldn’t ignore any longer. This burnout, which followed a career as an adventure reporter for TV networks like MTV Germany, ZDF, and PBS, was the catalyst for my transformation and eventual embrace of change.

Chapter 1: The Adventure Reporter

My journey towards embracing change began in my early career as an adventure reporter. I was living the dream – traveling the world, exploring exotic locations, and sharing my experiences with the audience back in Germany. It was a thrilling and rewarding job that brought me great media exposure in Germany and later beyond.

I wrote a book titled “How to Travel the World for Free,” detailing my adventures traveling from Germany to Antarctica without money and offering tips for those who wanted to follow in my footsteps. The book became a bestseller, further solidifying my status as an adventurer, and even brought me on The Tonight Show together with Katy Perry. However, beneath the surface, there were intense challenges and pressures that came with the job.

Constantly being on the road and facing these challenges took a toll on my physical and mental well-being. The pressure to deliver captivating content and maintain a charismatic on-screen persona was exhausting. The demanding schedule, tight deadlines, and constant exposure to new environments left me feeling drained. I was living a life that many envied, but it was taking a toll on my health and happiness.

Chapter 2: The Burnout

The breaking point came after a particularly intense travel project being out in the world for seven months. I had been pushing myself beyond my limits, and my body and mind finally gave in. I experienced a burnout that left me feeling utterly depleted and broken. It was as if my body had hit the emergency stop button, forcing me to confront the consequences of my relentless pursuit of success.

In the aftermath of the burnout, I found myself in a dark place. I lacked the motivation to get out of bed in the morning. Self-doubt gnawed at me relentlessly. My self-confidence had plummeted, and I had lost interest in the very things that once brought me joy. I spent six weeks at home in Berlin at that time, feeling trapped in a cycle of frustration and despair. It was a period of deep introspection and self-examination.

Chapter 3: A Unique Opportunity for Change

Ironically, it was the depth of my despair that presented a unique opportunity for change. I had hit rock bottom, and I knew that I could not continue living my life in this state of misery. The burnout had forced me to acknowledge that I needed a fundamental shift in my life.

Recognizing the need for change was only the first step. I realized that I couldn’t navigate this journey alone. I sought the help of a mental health coach who specialized in helping individuals recover from burnout. Through their guidance and support, I began the process of healing and transformation.

Chapter 4: The Transformation

The transformation that followed was nothing short of remarkable. It was a gradual and sometimes challenging process, but I was committed to embracing change and reclaiming my life. Here are some key steps I took along the way:

  • Mental Health Coaching: Working with a mental health coach was instrumental in my recovery. I learned valuable coping strategies, gained insight into the root causes of my burnout, and developed tools to manage stress and anxiety.
  • Certification with ICF: I decided to formalize my interest in mental health by becoming certified with the International Coach Federation (ICF). This allowed me to help myself and support others in their journey toward better mental well-being. Since then I’ve been working as a mental health coach for US and German clients. The opportunity to do this work virtually has helped me keep my stress levels low.
  • Change of Location: I made a bold move from Berlin, Germany to a small Rocky Mountain town in the United States. The change of scenery provided me with a fresh perspective and an opportunity to disconnect from the fast-paced world I had been a part of. The Colorado lifestyle supported me with new hobbies and activities like trail running and mountain biking and at the same time connecting with nature.
  • Physical Well-being: I overhauled my diet, adopting a keto lifestyle and incorporating valuable supplements to support my physical health. Additionally, I regularly do intermittent fasting which helps in mental and physical well-being on different levels.
  • Social Circle: I took a hard look at my social circle and began to distance myself from individuals who were not supportive, appreciated, or who didn’t support a crisis. Instead, I surrounded myself with positive and uplifting people who encouraged my growth.
  • Overcoming Perfectionism: I recognized that my perfectionist tendencies had played a significant role in my burnout. I worked on lowering my inner expectations and silencing my harsh inner critic. Instead, I practiced self-compassion and kindness towards myself.

These changes didn’t happen overnight and required consistent effort and dedication. However, they were essential in helping me not only recover from burnout but also build a more fulfilling and balanced life with a new purpose.

Embracing Change Transformation

Chapter 5: Embracing Change as a Gift

In hindsight, my burnout was a gift in disguise. It was a wake-up call that forced me to reevaluate my priorities and make necessary changes in my life. It’s easy to view crises and failures as setbacks, but they can also be powerful catalysts for growth and transformation.

Through my journey, I learned that embracing change is not a sign of weakness but a testament to resilience and self-awareness. Change is a constant in life, and it’s our ability to adapt and evolve that ultimately leads to personal and professional success. Failure, as I’ve discovered, is not a dead end but a valuable message guiding us toward a better path.

In conclusion, my burnout experience taught me that sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to find the strength and motivation to change. It was a painful but necessary journey that allowed me to rediscover my passion, prioritize my well-being, and ultimately embrace change as a lifelong companion on the road to success and fulfillment. The key is to recognize that crises are opportunities in disguise and that failing forward is a powerful tool for personal growth and transformation.

About the author: 

This article was written by speaker and Adventurer Michael Wigge.

Award-winning motivational speaker Michael Wigge specializes in documenting incredible stories about achieving victory over challenges. ‘How to Travel the World for Free,’ ‘How to Barter for Paradise,’ and ‘How to Travel Europe Blindfolded’ are three of his travel challenges. He shared his amazing success stories on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (alongside co-guest Katy Perry) and the Today Show. His TV programs and books have been broadcast and published internationally.

Based on his incredible experiences overcoming challenges, Wigge began performing keynote speaking and delivering training on stress management, time management, and motivation in Germany and the US.