Burnout Is Not A Productivity Issue, It’s A Matter of Wellbeing

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Have You Experienced Burnout? I have!

Most people I know, including myself, work really hard. I mean, around the clock, really. You wake up thinking about work and go to sleep to dream about more work (you have not dreamt until you dream in PowerPoint! True story.).

Last summer, my husband and I hosted a “burnt out” party. It was a hit – because the theme was so relatable to so many, plus we lured folks in with temptations of icy beverages and a pool. This year, we gladly will not be hosting a “burnt-out” party and I see that as a huge win!

What’s Burnout?

What is burnout? Are you wondering if you’re burning out or altogether burnt out?

While burnout is often contextualized in the work environment, you can also be burnt out from relationships, family, or any endeavor or obligation that is demanding energy from you.

Here are some common everyday symptoms (talk to your medical care provider for a comprehensive list):

  • You are physically, mentally or emotionally tired…all the time
  • You are on a shorter fuse than usual (and there is no sign of letting up)
  • You can’t remember the last time when you were relaxed
  • You are almost always stressed
  • You are stressed when you’re on vacation
  • You do not find joy or satisfaction in return for your energy spent
  • You can’t do the things you love
  • You have the Sunday blues
  • You have the Monday blues
  • You have the Thursday blues (because it’s not Friday yet)

What Happens When You’re Burnt Out?

The sneaky thing with burnout is that it doesn’t happen overnight.

Burnout is something that you’ve worked really hard for over a period of time (although completely unrewarding), and can happen to many high achievers with a “can do” attitude.

The irony is that once you have burnt out, you become a “can’t do” person, either in spirit or physical ability.

The thing is, you can be a high achiever, love your job, and be successful, all without being burnt out.

In fact, I’ll argue that it’s the only sustainable way to accomplish everything you want and be happy. I’ll also add that working long hours is not the main contributor to burnout.

Have you ever lost track of time doing something you’re naturally passionate about? Instead of feeling tired, it will usually energize and satisfy you deeply.

Contrary to popular belief, at the core of it, burnout is not a productivity issue, it is a matter of life purpose and well-being.

When someone is burnt out, it’s heartbreaking. That person has figuratively lost his/her flame. Their desire, drive, ambition, and sometimes even love no longer burns inside their being.

What Causes Burnout?

So what contributes to burnout?

Key culprits for burnout are:

  • Not truly believing the goal(s)/objectives that you’re working toward
  • Lack of control in how you do your work and your desired outcome
  • Lack of connection or social support to share perspectives or hardship

At the core, we experience burn out when we’re expected to continue to give while we’re running on empty.

How to Prevent or Recover From Burning Out?

Here are some things you can ask yourself if you feel like you’re on the road to burnout:

  • Do I agree with these goals that I’m working toward? Why are these my goals? Will achieving this truly make me happy? Is this what I really want?
  • How much autonomy do I have while working toward my goals? Am I able to make the journey my own or am I expressing someone else’s blueprint for how things should be done? Do I have a voice while achieving these goals? How much is my desired outcome within my control?
  • Am I sharing my experiences and seeking other perspectives? Who do I have around me to bounce ideas off of and support my experiences? Who has done this before and can provide me with advice and mentorship? Who will openly hear me vent when I am going through a rough patch?

Final Words On Burnout

At the core, we experience burnout when we’re expected to continue to give while we’re running on empty.

If we want to avoid or recover from burnout, we need to get really honest with ourselves and ask, “Am I getting my needs met?” And if not, why?  

Get curious about the answers to the above questions. It will inspire you to dig deeper and reconnect with what matters most.

Follow and allow your truth to guide your way back to blazing. 

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