The Tricky Thing About Burnout


Burnout is something that sneaks up on you out of nowhere. Or, at least, that's how it feels.

In today's audio postcard I'm talking about how sneaky burnout can actually be!

Today's question: Have you had this kind of experience with burnout?

Leave a comment and share your ideas!

Rather read than listen?

One of the things that I’ve learned about burnout is that it’s sneaky. You don’t get to a state of burnout overnight – it’s not something that happens instantly, even though it sometimes feels that way. Actually, burnout slowly builds up over time and you don’t even realize it’s happening. And then all of a sudden, you’ve hit a wall. And it really hurts!

The tricky thing about this is that it means you might be headed for burnout and not even realize it.

Which is exactly why I do the work that I do – to help people recover once they’ve hit that wall – but more importantly to help them see the signs along the way, so it never sneaks up on them again.

People are incredibly resilient – and resilience is an amazing human ability. It helps us deal with stress and tackle difficult problems. And it helps us to recover when things don’t go well.

But the downside of human resilience is that it can be taken advantage of.  You can deal with feeling stressed and overwhelmed at work for a long time. And you continue to work even when your personal battery is critically low. (I’ve talked to enough people to know that this is true – and I’ve done it myself.) And after working that way for a while, you reach a point where you just can’t anymore. And then all of a sudden – Wham! – you’ve hit that brick wall of burnout. And it really does feel like it came out of nowhere, doesn’t it?

This is the tricky thing about burnout. It’s like a snowball. At first it starts out tiny and insignificant and it’s so easy to ignore.  But it keeps rolling and picking up more and more snow. Slowly and steadily it increases in size until eventually you have an enormous snowball and no idea how it got that big.

And once you’ve hit that brick wall of burnout, you do what you need to do to patch yourself up so you can get back to work. And then the cycle starts all over again. And you end up going through this continual boom and bust cycle of burnout over and over and over again.

So I’m curious as you’re listening to me if any of this sounds familiar. Because I have a feeling it might. Have you had this kind of experience with burnout? Where “all of a sudden” you end up exhausted and burned out at work?

Did you see it coming? And if you had known there was a way to prevent it, would you have done anything differently?