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Burnt Out: What To Do When You’ve Had Enough

April 20, 2015

Being completely burnt out can happen to the best of us and it is not uncommon. Especially for vacation deprived Americans. But we can’t all quit and go live on the beach. So we have to recover somehow. You can bounce back. A break and a few deep breaths and back on track.
 We did an episode on burnout which generated a ton of emails and still does. Many of you have suffered or are suffering burnout yourselves. What can we do about it and what can we do to prevent it in the future?
 What Is Burnout?
 “Burnout is a psychological term that refers to long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work.”
 That’s the technical definition. In real speak, “fed up with this shit!”
 The Symptoms
 Do you know the difference between being physically tired versus mentally tired? I’m a big fan of physically tired. Being tired from a long hike, a good run, helping your best friend move out of their fifth-floor walk up. That kind of tired quiets the mind and lets you sleep like a baby.
 Mentally tired sucks and it’s the kind of tired that being burnt out produces. When you’re mentally tired, your brain won’t shut up. It’s the kind of tired that won’t allow your thoughts to stop long enough to let you rest.
Being burnt out can also result in cynicism and detachment.
“This job sucks. Things will never get better.”
“Nothing I do makes any difference.”
“This job creates nothing of value in the world. I sit at a desk eight-plus hours a day and don’t engage my brain at all.”
Hard to find motivation with those kinds of thoughts ringing in your head. Being burnt out sucks the meaning and engagement out of work life.

The Causes
When the economy tanked in 2007-8, many employers began laying off workers. Those lucky enough not to lose their jobs now were expected to do the work of two, sometimes more, people. And they did it and did it without complaint lest they be next.
By mid-2014, all 8.7 million jobs lost were replaced. But in the interim, a lot of people got burnt out. During that time, people felt a lack of control.
They felt they had no control over things like scheduling, what assignments they got, the amount of work they were now expected to make up in the face of layoffs.
Because people were now expected to take on work once handled by someone else, expectations were unclear. And if you had a question about how to do something, there was no one to ask. The person that used to do it was long gone.
 
Workplace dynamics weren’t exactly pleasant either.
If it was you or the guy next to you, you would be looking for any reason to throw him under the bus and he was doing the same to you. Not exactly a healthy, supportive environment in which to spend eight or more hours a day.
Where Does It Happen?
Well, work is the most likely spot but not the only place it can happen. Even stuff you normally enjoy can burn you out if you do too much of it. I had a friend who liked playing soccer in the organized leagues in the city. He was a keeper and a pretty good one.
Eventually, people he played with who also played on other teams, started calling him when they needed a ringer for a playoff game or when the regular keeper couldn’t make it. Eventually, he got sick of playing soccer, something that had once been an enjoyable pass time.
Or those parents, usually mothers, who get sick of doing everything around the house and go on strike.
They refuse to cook, clean, or do laundry until they get some help. Usually, they fold because a house full of kids can stand dirt, smelly clothes,

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