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Burnout: Things are Just Going Wrong

Burnout is rough. You know that feeling when you’re sitting on the couch in the evening and dread going to work in the morning. Or the Saturday that you tell yourself that the weekend is almost over and you’re that much closer to having to go to work. You’re burned out and need to find a new perspective. The worst thing you could do is to jump to another job right away until you’ve analyzed the source of your disaffection. It’s usually not work that’s bothering you but either something at work or in your personal life which won’t allow you to focus your energy on what you know is important. That’s often the reason for your anger and frustration. The only way to break this downward spiral of misery is to step back and get a fresh perspective but what the heck does that mean? When you’re caught in this cycle it’s very hard to reflect on anything other than your problems, or the problems you’re telling yourself are causing your grief.

I’ve been watching several people at work that I can tell are burned out but don’t know it. One fellow I’ve been watching is best described as a curmudgeon. He’s an incredibly hard worker and very bright but Eeyore has nothing on his attitude. Every new method, direction, or vision is not only wrong but disastrous. He really can’t understand changes and fights to keep his world static. He is overburdened but can’t delegate to others because he just can’t see the work getting done right. Now here is someone in need of perspective, but you see this behavior somewhere in every organization and its not healthy for either them or the others in the team.

A lady I work with was suffering from the same symptoms as mentioned before. Nothing was going well, her manager was an idiot, her peers were incompetent, and she was looking for a job. Now THAT is someone you’re going to hire, right? I was talking through some issues with her and she said that one day she stopped and really thought about her situation and the people around her. She said that she realized that much of the situation she owned and some she didn’t. She needed to figure out the drivers and pressures of her manager and find a way to make her as successful as possible and to identify what needs to be accomplished daily and weekly. This shift of focus from an interpersonal situation helped my friend to understand that her boss was a good person with pressures that cause decisions and that my friend could be a part of solutions. Relationships with her peers also improved as she started to understand from their perspectives as well.


Burnout seems to be a “zeitgeist” of today’s economy. There are a ton of external pressures that are affecting all of us and it is too easy to project fears and concerns of our personal life onto our professional situation. We spend most of our time at work so that’s where we tend to take out or frustrations. Unfortunately, when this happens we are less productive and we make other people uncomfortable and unproductive as well. When you start to feel that life isn’t working well try to sit down and really think about what it is that is causing you anxiety. Once you identify and articulate the sources it is easier to isolate the problems and take greater enjoyment and satisfaction out of life.

1 comment to Burnout: Things are Just Going Wrong

  • Theda E.

    Perspective. Loved this. So very true — often I have to step back and dig deep to understand what ‘set me off’ and it’s usually not what is in front of me. Need to remember to step back and have a look around more often.

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