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Article > How to Stop Burnout


Article kindly provided by Duane Alley


What Is Burnout and Why Is It Bad?

Burnout is not something that fits into an easy definition but you definitely know it when you see it – or feel it!

It’s that general malaise that has you pulling the covers over your head instead of leaping out of bed.

It’s the sudden urge to head to the airport instead of back to the office after lunch.

It’s the no-energy, no-motivation, no-dreams state of mind.

And it’s awful!

The pain of burnout is obvious: You just can’t get motivated. You feel worn down, ineffective, hopeless. The idea of moving at all, let alone moving forward, requires way too much effort. Burnout is a waste of time and energy. While you’re suffering, you could be living a fantastic life.

Most of us have likely experienced burnout at some point in your life, maybe related to your business, or maybe related to a relationship, school or university, or even a just getting on with the business of living. Sometimes it creeps up on you, building over time, while other times it jumps out of the blue and hits you upside the head. One day it’s all fine and dandy; the next, you’d rather poke yourself in the eye with a sharp stick than sit through one more day with this boss, teacher, significant other or job.

Burnout doesn’t always come from the same source, either.

It can come from working hard and needing a break, or it can come from lack of challenge. That means that addressing burnout is going to require some analysis. You might need a good, long rest, or you might need a kick in the pants. You might need better focus on your goals, or you may need an entirely new goal.

With all these variables, you may wonder how there can be one definitive report or article on the topic of burnout and how to cure it.

Well, you can’t.

There are commonalities though.

All the people I’ve worked with and in all research I’ve worked on or studied there are a number of common causes and as such, common solutions. I’ve put together a series of articles to cover the five most common of these. Not each of these may reflect your own circumstances; if there’s some burnout going on for you though I think you’ll find some answers and suggestions here.

Ready? Let’s get into it…

Burnout Cause #1: Overwork

Imagine training for a marathon. Every day for months, you check your online training schedule, you map out your running course, you lace up your sneakers, and you hit the road. Rain or shine, you put in the kilometres – 6 kilometres, 21 kilometres, 42 kilometres. Over time, the distance builds till it’s the big day. With literally thousands of kilometres under your belt, you line up with hundreds of other runners, adrenaline pumping and sweat already starting to form on your forehead. It’s time.

Three or four (or five!) hours later, depending on your pace, you cross the finish line. You did it. You’re a marathoner. You grab your medal and finisher’s t-shirt and hobble to your car, probably with the help of a friend or two.

The LAST thing you feel like doing is to run another kilometre or two. You’re done. Spent. Exhausted.

In fact, it may be a few weeks before you feel ready to run again. It’s to be expected; you trained for months, you ran for hours, and you left it all on the course. Your reserves are empty and you’re ready for a nice, long break.

Do you get an analogy here with work?

Maybe you’ve been pushing hard for a specific project or goal, day in and day out for an extended period of time. You’ve pulled a few all-nighters, and you don’t even recognise your kids because you haven’t been home before their bedtime. You’ve been aiming for a product launch or some other hard deadline, and now it’s done. You’re exhausted, and rightfully so. Just like the marathoner, you’ve left it all on the course.

Some of us may be lucky enough to have more predictable businesses or jobs where the highs and lows are minimal. You show up, do the work in front of you, and go home. There aren’t big pushes around holidays or product launches, and your days are pretty even-keeled. If we should all be so lucky! Chances are, your job or business – whether you’re in retail sales or software development – has large fluctuations due to external events. You have tax season, holiday season, or inventory season, and that makes your life crazy at times. Don’t worry; that’s normal. And it’s normal to want a break after it’s done, just like in the marathoner scenario above.

What isn’t so normal, though, is a constant pressure that never abates. If you are always under the gun, always faced with a seemingly insurmountable deadline, always running at record-breaking pace, you’re not going to last.

So here’s the deal; if you’re facing a natural downtime as the result of a big push, relax and enjoy the break. You’ll soon feel like working again. But if you find yourself unable to relax due to internal or external pressures, you need to evaluate. You’re on the brink of total breakdown.

How do you change? Well, that leads me to our first solution…

Answer #1: Pace Yourself

If you’re a car-racing fan, you know that in some races, it’s common for the driver to pull over for a pit stop.

During this brief respite from the race, tires are changed, fuel is added, and other diagnostics are performed to insure the car and driver continue to operate at maximum potential. You can probably see where I’m going here: If a professional race car driver needs to pace him- or herself, it’s natural to assume that people in other areas of life should think about pacing as well.

Even if your business or career requires constant push-push-push (and with 24/7 technology, almost everyone considers themselves to be always “on”), you have to find ways to pace yourself. Maybe it means taking a yoga class during lunch one day a week, or using every Sunday as a complete day of rest away from your mobile phone, computer, fax, email, or iPad.

Sound crazy?

Well, the crazier it sounds, the more necessary it is. To quote Eleanor Roosevelt, “We must do the thing we think we cannot do.”

If you think you just can’t take a week’s holiday each year that means you need to do it!

“Yeah,” you might be saying. “That sounds good. But you don’t know MY customers or MY boss or MY industry.” You’re right, I don’t.

But I do know that virtually every industry and every market has someone at the top that manages to take time off. CEO’s do it; Prime Ministers do it; Presidents do it. If the leaders of the world can scrape together enough time to take a break, you can too.

In fact, that’s a great place to start. Find someone in your field who seems to have managed a workable pace and is still seen as a success. Then ask them how they do it. Do they take lunches off? Leave their mobile at work? Or maybe they just schedule five minutes of breathing room in every hour?

After you’ve found a life-balance mentor, set a small goal. Maybe this week it’s just to walk to pick the kids up from school instead of driving, and to not use your mobile phone during meals. These small cushions of blank space let your emotions and brain – and body! – start to recover.

And speaking of your body, don’t forget to work out. Exercising not only brings much-needed oxygen to your entire body, it also relieves a lot of the stress that gets pent up in us over long periods of work. As if that weren’t enough, exercising regularly also builds your stamina so that you can work for more extended periods of time.

You don’t have to be a professional athlete to benefit from regular breaks. In fact, anyone in any field will find their productivity improves when they pace themselves!


Here’s your bit:

Where are you on a scale of 1 – 10 in the Burnout Race?

When was the last time you pulled in for a “pit stop”?

Was it really a rest from the race or just a convenient excuse to do more work?

What are you going to do about it?

Decide now and then commit and act on it – plan for your next pit stop and then take it.



If you have any questions about this article or the exercises, please contact my office at

Green Lights and Full Cups everyday




Duane Alley


About the Author

Duane Alley
Speaker | Trainer | Author | Coach

Duane Alley spent the first 15 years of his professional life working with some of the biggest and fastest growing retail and franchise businesses in the country; he then spent 5 years as Head Trainer & Coach for one of the biggest Personal Development companies on the planet.

He has combined his extensive experience from the business world in delivering real world results with his success and study of personal development, rapid human change and shifting consciousness.

As a Master Trainer, Author, Speaker and Performance Coach he now works with businesses and entrepreneurs quickly and easily improve their businesses and make more money and with individuals, couples and families to make simple changes and take small steps to live better lives day by day.



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