Have you ever burnt out? With all the uncertainty circulating in our personal and professional lives, you may feel the urgent need to do as much as you can while you still are able. We know we don’t have to tell you that that’s not a sustainable way to live! Cynthia Nwaubani, a Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager for the Wells Fargo Commercial Banking office in Dallas, Texas, and a mother to three, opens up about how she is constantly ensuring she doesn’t fall victim to burnout and what you can do to protect yourself, too.
What does burnout look like in your life?
I used to believe that when you are passionate about what you do, you can never burnout, but I have come to realize that that statement isn’t entirely accurate and can lead to a false sense of confidence that pushes you to overwork and to dismiss any sign of burnout as “sweat equity” or “laziness.”
Burnout is different for everyone and thus there is no one sure sign of burnout that can be applied across the board. You have to pay attention to your health and to your energy and learn to read the signals that tell you that you are approaching burnout.
Do you think women are hit with burnout more than men? Or is it pretty equal?
I never like to generalize because everybody is different. However, it seems that women tend to struggle with burnout more than men do and probably because of the added pressure for some women that comes with balancing the demands of work and being the primary caretaker of the home.
Maybe women are wired to believe that we can do everything and not ask for help or maybe societal norms have conditioned us to disregard the signals of burnout as hormones or the “way of life.” I don’t know the answer to that, but what I do know is if we pay more attention to our health and to our energy, we can start understanding what leads to burnout in our lives and start creating the necessary boundaries to prevent us from reaching that state of despair.
What are some warning signs you usually experience that signal that burnout is coming?
For me personally, I know that I’m approaching burnout when I start getting easily irritable and when I start losing the joy in the things that have historically sparked a fire within me. That is a signal that I have to pause, take a break, and reconnect with what brings me joy internally, and for me, that’s my faith and my family. I won’t say I’ve burnt out because I’m still very passionate about what I do and the value that I bring to my community and to my organization. However, I have been close to burning out, and I’m now getting better at reading the signals and at stopping and reassessing my energy every step of the way.
Is there any way to safeguard against burnout?
I believe so and again, I had to learn this the hard way. I see myself as a multifaceted individual with multiple interests. I believe life should be explored to the fullest and I strongly believe in investing in all of your interests, especially if it benefits your community. However, the danger with pursuing multiple interests is you may not know when to stop and reassess the value of a particular interest at the stage of life you’re in at that moment.
For example, I’ve been an actor, a professional singer, a model, a community advocate, a mother and a full-time businesswoman and financial professional. So the way I show up today in my adult life is reflective of how I grew up exploring many interests. For that reason, I will always be that individual who will raise her hand for any value-creating project, both within my organization and in my community. It’s just who I am! I believe in leaving a legacy and my joy comes from how many lives I can change by the work I do. But I have learned to select how I show up at different stages in the journey. I have learned that it’s okay not to be at the driver’s seat all the time and to sit and watch others take charge and lead. In doing so, I am not only recharging my energy for when I’m called upon to lead, but I’m learning to lead by actively following.
I am also a full time mother of three young girls, ages 11, 10, and 3, and a full time wife, sister, friend and finance professional. So I have learned to pay attention to how I show up for myself because I have to teach my daughters the importance of self-care. I also love to give back to my community and I’ve been fortunate to be involved with 4word for the past seven years.
At first glance at my life, it may look like I have a lot on my plate, but I am not all of these things at the same time. Although I will always be a mom, a wife, a daughter, and a sister, the way I show up in these roles vary with the demands placed on me at that particular time. So I intentionally create boundaries that protect the things that are most important to me (which are my faith and family) while making room for other things that bring me joy, such as serving my clients, my community, and working on value-added projects.
I make sure I start my day with worship and meditation, as that is the mental workout that sets me up for success for the day. I also create pockets of time in my day to reflect on my journey as it keeps me in a perpetual state of gratitude given how far God has brought me. I am working on carving out specific days in the month where I focus my efforts on giving back to my community as that reignites the energy that allows me to show up well at other areas of my life.
The bottom line: the boundaries you create depend on your success equation. You have to know your success equation and make sure you are investing in each variable to ensure you are having a full and well-balanced life.
What words of wisdom would you share with someone currently experiencing burnout?
Never waste a crisis! When you start experiencing burnout that means you’ve reached a crisis point where you have to make a change or you may lose out of one of your most valuable assets, which is your mental health. What you do with any crisis can set you up for success or failure. My advice is when faced with the crisis of a burnout, never ever give up on yourself or on your long term goal. Instead, try any of the following options:
- Take a break, both mental and physical. Go on a vacation or staycation. Unplug from work, if you can, and reconnect with the things that bring you internal joy.
- Take a moment to reassess how far you’ve come in your journey (not how far you still have to go) as that should take you back to a state of gratitude, which is an energy booster.
- Craft a “well-being” plan (mental and physical) and push that up your priority list. Self-care is one of the surest way to ensure that you don’t burnout.
- Don’t make changes to your long-term plan in the midst of your burnout as you may not be in the mental capacity to make such a life-altering decision. Instead, when you feel burnout, focus on creating a short term plan that will bring you joy and reignite your energy. Once you’re on the other side of the burnout spectrum, then reassess your long term plan to decide if you need to change the plan or if you just need to recalibrate your strategy.
Regardless of the path you choose, never give up on yourself! Rest, but don’t give up.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I believe we are created to thrive in community. Sometimes, when we feel burnout, it is a signal that we are carrying a load that should be shared. If you don’t have a community of people who you can do life with, consider joining a 4word Community Group where you can walk this journey of life with like-minded women who have dedicated their lives to service and to pursuing their God-given potential with confidence.
Cynthia Nwaubani is a Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager for the Wells Fargo Commercial Banking office in Dallas, Texas. She is responsible for developing and managing relationships with middle market companies with revenues between $50 million and $2 billion. As one of the nation’s top lenders to middle market companies, Wells Fargo Commercial bank provides a comprehensive platform of financial products and services including loans, cash management, global banking, and investment banking services.
Cynthia earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Nigeria in Nigeria; and her M.B.A. in corporate finance and accounting from the Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business in Dallas, Texas. She is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the state of Texas, and has completed course works in Advanced Credit and Risk Management as part of the bank’s Commercial Banking MBA Relationship Management program.
Active in her community, Cynthia is involved with the 4word women’s group, an organization centered on developing women leaders who work, love and pray, and she also mentors women business owners from countries that have been affected by war or genocide through the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW). Cynthia has also served on the International Business Council of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce and has chaired the National Leadership Conference and the Dallas Women’s Conference for the National Diversity Council. Within Wells Fargo, Cynthia has served on the leadership board of both the Black/African American Connection and the My Generation Team Member Networks. She also served as a mentor on the Southern Division mentoring program and was also a council member on the Southern Division’s first Customer Advisory Council and the Commercial Banking Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee.
For her service to the community, the Texas Women’s Foundation, the largest regional fund in the world, honored Cynthia with the 2017 Young Leader Award, the Immigrant Journey Award honored her with the 2018 Professional Excellence Award, the SMU Women’s Symposium honored her with the 2019 Profiles in Leadership Award and the Dallas Business Journal honored her with the 2019 Dallas Women in Business Award. Within Wells Fargo, Cynthia has won both the Pinnacle and Golden Spoke awards. The Golden Spoke award is given to the top 1% of bankers who have exemplified leadership in serving the Bank’s clients and in living out the vision and values of the Bank.
Married with three daughters, Cynthia and her family reside in Frisco, Texas.