Burnout is a gradual loss of energy that develops from wanting to succeed, caring a lot, and lacking a turn-off switch that makes you stop when you’ve done enough. You’re probably even missing the system that monitors “enough.” Here’s a link to a quick assessment to find your Zone: Safe, Caution, or Danger.
Burnout creeps up, stealing energy as it gobbles up your life. The best way to deal with it is to prevent it.
Below are the seven usual steps. They’re not symptoms–just a description of the progression of the disease. The steps reflect the assessment.
1. The Need to Prove Yourself. You have a new job. Your want to prove yourself. You’re determined.
2. Work Harder. Because you want to prove yourself, your expectations are high. You focus only on work, and take on more and more. You like to do everything yourself. People will admire that.
3. Neglect Basic Needs. You now have no time and energy for anything else. Friends, family, and basic needs are unnecessary or unimportant. They cut down the time and energy to spend on work.
4. Isolation. Being cut off (you’re working so hard), you don’t have energy or time for activities and friends. Your emotions get narrowed.
5. Warning symptoms. Physical symptoms begin. Your neck is stiff. Maybe mild digestive issues. Your eye twitches.
6. The Spiral. Your mood had changed – you’re more irritable. You have an extra glass (or two) of wine in the evening.
7. The Steep Spiral. You have lost track of your personal needs. Your focus has narrowed. You feel kind of empty and use overeating, sex, alcohol, or drugs to cope. You might feel exhausted, hopeless, indifferent, and believe that there is nothing for you in the future. You’ve hit bottom, and can stay there, or re-charge. It’s not a good place to stay very long.
The Law of Circulation mandates that energy circulate throughout your life space. If events and tasks are added to your world and not enough is removed, then a blockage or overflow must result. As you add each new task, consider what can drop off the bottom. In the meantime, list every task or activity you carry out in a sample day. Rank each from 0-100 in long-term consistency with what you say is important, and with its pay-off. Drop the bottom 20% of the list. Ink in dates with children, spouse or friends, favorite exercise, a hobby. It’s not too late. Do something about it now.