What is burnout?




A lot of my clients arrive at my door feeling tired, jaded, over-burdened or worse. They are suffering burnout. It’s understandable. They are passionate, capable people who have been working hard for decades, delivering value for their employers, colleagues, businesses and clients, and doing their very best for their families, friends and the communities they are part of. Juggling competing demands of a busy, successful life.  Sound familiar?

Hard Working High Achievers

I see a common pattern, and I recognise it because I have lived it. Highly resourceful individuals driven by the urge to do a good job and make a difference in all aspects of life. They commit to life and the people and projects they engage with. They bring passion, energy, focus to it all.

This is brilliant in lots of ways and for a certain amount of time. These people get things done, make things happen. They innovate, create, inspire and contribute.

They take responsibility and step up to challenges.

They see possibilities and opportunities where others see obstacles and limits. They are leaders, change agents and influencers and as such find themselves out at the front edge which can be a lonely territory.

They are often thoughtful and sensitive. They care about others.

Typically, my clients hold themselves to a very high standard. This is what propels them to create the results they do.  This can also cause them to be in overdrive, a key contributor to burnout. 

This is all brilliant. They are brilliant people, even though they don’t regard themselves that way.

However, there’s a flip side.

All this energy, skill, passion, expertise is going outwards. These people are contributors, much better at giving than receiving. They’re driven by moving goal posts. Usually, they push onto the next goal before appreciating themselves for scoring the last one. They get stuck in overdrive. They find it hard to stop and rest, and they find it difficult to see that they themselves deserve time, care and attention too.  Still sounding familiar?

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Feeling Tired All the Time

There comes the point when the tank begins to empty. It’s not possible for any of us to keep delivering without refuelling, but these focused individuals push the boundaries more than most.

The result; exhaustion, disillusionment, disengagement and faltering confidence. At the least, this leads to lack of enjoyment with both work and personal life. Effectiveness and performance at work can decline and at home relationships often suffer. Even worse it can lead to burnout and loss of enjoyment

Time for Self-Care

The solution to managing burnout starts with recognising there’s a problem and accepting that carrying on, in the same way, is not an option. It’s time to appreciate that life is precious and finite, to take action and learn a new way of being and doing.

A simple, though not necessarily easy first step, is to schedule 20 minutes of breathing space a day for two weeks. Put it in the diary as with any other appointment. Take time to step back from tasks, perhaps take a short walk outside, or have a cup of tea, gaze out of the window, daydream - anything to be in relax mode for a short while. In the beginning, it will feel counter-intuitive to productivity, but quickly the benefits will become clear.

Reclaiming Work-Life Balance

The good news is when they choose to do so these mighty individuals are equipped with amazing personal resources to draw on for the journey. With the right support and guidance, this journey will take them to an enjoyable new chapter where they can not only keep going but flourish, thrive and make a bigger difference.

Having worked with hundreds of clients over the years looking to reclaim their enjoyment, I have developed proven strategies that work. You can learn about them here