Beware Burnout

beware of burnoutThere has been a lot written about “burnout” recently. Having been an executive and having coached executives for the last 20 years, I can personally attest to its potential to disrupt one’s life. It’s not the occasional dissatisfaction with one’s work situation, frustration with a boss, board, or direct reports. It’s the state of complete exhaustion, hopelessness, and disillusionment with one’s choices that lead to this state. It’s the inability to go on “as is.”

As they say, it happens “slowly, then suddenly” and you start asking yourself how did you get here? You are smart, successful and talented so what’s up? It starts with prioritizing work over a personal life -because it’s what you need to do to get ahead, right? It’s taking on one too many projects, thinking you are master of your universe, refusing to delegate because only you can do it well and you don’t want to let others down. Or you think personal life comes “after,” there will always be more time – until you realize your kids are 10 and somehow you wonder how this happened – where were you? For entrepreneurs, it’s that drive to achieve the vision and in fact, mostly you have no one to delegate to so you are the chief cook and bottle washer, convinced that right around the next task, sale or process, is the big payday and then you can take a break. Spoiler alert, it never happens.

This article does a great job of defining the conundrum and offering some solutions – or at least some helpful tools to avoid the train wreck.

The author recommends the following 3 tactics to practice:

  1. Reconnect with Others – remind yourself that you are more than what you do at work, that you have value as a human to others – rituals, such as group activities or regular get-togethers reinforces this and reminds you that you are part of something bigger – you are not just what you “do.”
  2. Reframe your Goals – Stop putting all the focus on the BHAG or Giant Vision, focus on the incremental progress that you are making towards it and celebrate those milestones. Wins tend to beget more wins but if you don’t celebrate along the way, everyone loses perspective and faith that it’s actually achievable.
  3. Remember to be Useful – Do something besides work that makes you feel like you’re contributing to the greater good. Do something that makes a difference even a small one. We all have something to contribute, we just don’t’ think we have time – and you always do. It’s a good reminder that there is more out there than our work, connect to your world outside of it.

The most successful individuals do all of these three and also know their boundaries and enforce them. Remember that nobody stands up for you better than you. Find your voice and see how much better you will feel – and you might inspire a few others along the way.