What Is Burnout and Why Is It Bad?
Burnout is like pornography; you may not be able to define it, 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.
You’ve likely experienced burnout at some point in your life, maybe related to your business, or maybe related to a relationship, a college class, or even a restaurant. 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 rather than sit through one more day with this professor, 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 report or article on the topic of burnout and how to cure it.
Well, you can’t. That’s why in this short report we’re going to tackle the five most common sources of burnout and five solutions for tackling them. Whether you’re finished with your life as a whole, or you want to change your workout routine, or you need a new job, there will be some solutions for you. Remember, you may not see yourself in every situation, but if you’re suffering from burnout, you’ll definitely find some suggestions to rev your engine and get you motivated.
Ready? Let’s hit 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 miles – 3 miles, 13 miles, 23 miles. Over time, the mileage builds until it’s the big day. With literally thousands of miles 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 mile 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 see 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 recognize 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 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 – 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 us to our first solution…
Solution #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 pitstop. During this brief intermission, 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 cell phone, pager, fax, email, and 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 vacation 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 who manages to take time off. Heck, even the President goes golfing and to Martha’s Vineyard! If the head of the free 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 the cell phone 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 cell 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.
What questions do you have about beating burnout? Just put them in the comments below and I’ll respond.
And now I would like to invite you to claim your Free Instant Access to my report “7 Tips to Get More From Your Work Time” when you visit http://www.7TimeTips.com. You’ll get 7 powerful, but easy to implement strategies to recoup more of your time and learn how to spend it more wisely to get more clients and more results. From Deanna Maio – Business Growth & Marketing Strategist at http://DeannaMaio.com.