How to Recognize Burnout & Get Back on Track

In Blog, Leadership, Quick Bit, Small Business by Peter BoritzLeave a Comment

We all go through it.
Whether you are the CEO, receptionist, or teacher, burnout doesn’t play favorites and affects everyone eventually like the flu…or jury duty.

I often hear people say, “Well, if I was making more money I wouldn’t feel this way and would work harder.”

Here’s something that might surprise you: 

Burnout doesn’t care how much money you make.

There are just as many issues and sometimes more when your paycheck goes up. There’s more responsibility, increased stress from having to manage people, and far more is expected from you on a daily basis.

Having worked in large companies, started my own businesses, and changed industries three times, I’ve developed a deep perspective on what it takes to stay self-motivated and break through burnout. A perspective which I will share with you in this post.

What is burnout?

The Mayo Clinic defines burnout as a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.

Let’s break this down into two general quadrants:
1. Burnout due to stress.
2. Burnout due to perception of value.

Burnout due to stress: when you’re stressed from whatever source– your personal life dipping into the office or external drivers such as co-workers or a boss. It clouds your thinking and can make you feel lethargic, sick, and demotivated.

Burnout due to perception of value: This often develops when you’re not feeling a sense of contribution, purpose, respect, and appreciation in the workplace.

Ask yourself, which of these two am I feeling right now?

Sure, there is often a lot of overlap and everyone has a mix of things that affects us throughout the day.

But What Can You Do About It? 

Recognize and React. It’s a cliché but so true: “The first step is admitting you have a problem.” I would add that it’s key to be open minded to the possibility that you have an issue. So many people will fight it and say “I’m not burned-out. I’m tougher than that. It only happens to others.” Get in touch with your feelings and admit something isn’t right.

Think like an athlete. Next time you head to work, take on the mindset of an athlete. Automatically, you will be better– try it. I found this has really worked for me. Sure, this is more mental than physical, but the idea is your body and mind have to be in optimal condition in order to achieve success and avoid burnout. Forget that you’re not sponsored by Nike or have Peyton Manning’s DNA. Adopting the athlete’s mindset helps you get winning benefits. In order to succeed and excel in the workplace, think of yourself as an athlete.

How Can You Think Like an Athlete?

Perseverance– athletes don’t quit. Staying in the game will help you break through challenges and demonstrates leadership.
Visualize success. Athletes use visualization to see victory in their mind which helps bridge to real time action.
Repeat pump-up phrases to yourself like “you’re a champion,” “I feel great,” and “go for it”. Athletes constantly use self-talk mantras to stay focused.
Purpose– athletes are great at setting goals, which gives them a deep sense of purpose. Why am I busting my butt so hard? To be a winner, of course.

Doing these things translates into the workplace and helps you beat value burnout. Pick career goals– a promotion, financial gain, industry recognition… Whenever your mind wanders and you feel like “why am I here– no one appreciates me, is it worth it?”, get your head back on track by repeating your purpose. This will get you through those questions of self-worth and value.

It’s Time to Rewire

To gain long lasting benefits and really kick burnout’s ass, you’ll need to do some rewiring. Habits need to be formed in order to achieve full rewiring, which takes time.

How long does it take to rewire and form a new habit? Scientists who study habit formation say it’s not that easy. You’ll find lots of research online saying on average 21 days. The truth is we are different and there isn’t a magic number— and even if there were, it would be more like 66 days. Will Durant put it best when summing up Aristotle’s thoughts in his book The Story of Philosophy  “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”

So, now that you’ve got the tools to avoid and beat workplace burnout, it’s your turn. To recap:
Recognize that there is an issue
Think like an athlete to get yourself back on track
Rewire your patterns and habits to support long lasting results

Keep in mind that there are varying degrees of burnout and I’m not trying to oversimplify the issues. The goal is to provide you with some practical, easy to use techniques. And it’s important to recognize that at times, some people may need to seek professional counseling from a mental health professional.

But regardless of your circumstances and whether or not you feel overwhelmed by burnout, these basic tips will be helpful to anyone who’s looking to become more productive, improve their capabilities, and feel better in general.

A version of this post originally appeared on the WorkplaceU blog.

Peter BoritzHow to Recognize Burnout & Get Back on Track

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