What Is Burnout and Why Is It Bad?
is not something that fits into an easy definition
but you definitely know it when you see it –
or feel it!
that general malaise that has you pulling the covers
over your head instead of leaping out of bed.
the sudden urge to head to the airport instead of
back to the office after lunch.
the no-energy, no-motivation, no-dreams state of
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.
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
doesn’t always come from the same source,
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
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.
are commonalities though.
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.
Let’s get into it…
Burnout Cause #1: Overwork
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.
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.
LAST thing you feel like doing is to run another
kilometre or two. You’re done. Spent. Exhausted.
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.
you get an analogy here with work?
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
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.
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.
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
do you change? Well, that leads me to our first solution…
#1: Pace Yourself