What pictures come to your mind when you think about job burnout? I was recently thinking about burnout and four pictures came to mind.
The first burnout picture was of a dragster burning out on the racetrack. Wheels are squealing and smoke is bellowing up from the burning tires as the car moves down the track.
As I reflected on this picture, I realized this is much like what happens to busy people who burnout. They go, go, go full speed ahead. They don't take time to stop, rest, reflect, regroup, or recover.
No wonder they burnout. Sufficient rest is an important part of living a less stressful, more balanced, and joyful life.
Did you know that when people spend more time relaxing, they get more done while working? They tend to be more productive. It's true.
If you find yourself feeling burned out, make an effort to spend time resting and notice how you feel. Does it help you feel like your batteries have been recharged?
The second picture of job burnout that came to my mind was of an old charcoal grill I used to own. We used it so much that the bottom was completely burned out. The metal became thin, cracked, and had large holes in it.
Most of the charcoal would spill on the ground under the grill when I tried to build a fire in it. It had gotten to the point that it was useless as a grill.
I should have started using it as a flower pot years earlier, before it got to the point that it was worthless:-)
As I thought about this picture I realized that people often burn themselves out by staying in the same position or doing the same things way too long. You need variety and challenge to maintain motivation.
You need to keep growing, developing new skills and abilities. You need to keep engaging in new and different tasks.
The old proverb, "Variety is the spice of life," is true. Too much redundancy results in boredom, which then contributes to burnout.
What do you need to do to bring freshness and newness into our life?
It may be something quick and easy, such as going to a new restaurant to eat.
It may be something bigger and more involved, such as taking a weekend trip to visit a place you have never been before, pursuing a new hobby, or learning a new job-related skill.
It may even be something really big, like finding a new job or changing careers.
Whatever it is, write it down and start planning how you are going to make it a reality.
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When I was in college, I worked for Armour and Company, a meat packing company. I often worked nights. One morning as I was driving home shortly after sunrise, I passed an old country store that had burned. Only the shell of the building was left standing.
In front of the burned out building was a charred Coca-Cola case. When I saw that mostly destroyed red case in front of the burned store the phrase that popped into my mind was, "Things go better with Coke."
That phrase used to be Coca-Cola's slogan.
Well, it was not true, at least in this case.
We often contribute to our own burnout by having unrealistic expectations. We believe lies. And these lies increase our stress to the point that it becomes overwhelming.
Common lies that people tell themselves are...
Of course, there are many others.
The lesson here is that our thinking contributes greatly to our stress level and to job burnout. When you find yourself burning out, stop and ask yourself, "What am I thinking?"
See if you can identify unrealistic expectations. If you can identify them, you can change them.
As my three sons and daughter were growing up, we did a lot of camping out. We camped together as a family and with the Boy Scouts.
Cold weather camping was a frequent activity. I enjoyed sitting beside a campfire on a frigid night watching the flames dance. All through the day we put wood on the fire.
Then, as the evening passed and
bedtime approached, we stopped fueling the fire. By the time we crawled
into warm sleeping bags for the night the fire was almost completely
out. The next morning the only remnant of the fire was a cold pile of
The fire burned out because we stopped putting wood on it. For a fire to burn hot, it needs fuel.
Do you allow the same thing to happen in your life? Do you stop feeding yourself? Or do you feed yourself with poor quality fuel? Do you live on a diet of junk food?
I am talking about more than what you put into your mouth and swallow. True, it is important to fuel your body with good nutrition.
But you also need to feed your mind with quality food for thought.
It is important to feed yourself spiritually. Otherwise, you will find your life feeling meaningless.
If you don't feed your social life, you will not have the strong, supportive relationships needed to sustain you when life is stressful?
If you find yourself feeling stressed-out and headed for burnout (or already burned out), look at how you are fueling the various parts of your life. To regain and sustain motivation and energy, you need quality fuel.
Before I go, let me ask you a question. Are you crazy busy? If so, you need to watch this video.