Burnt Out

Early this year I found myself crying after a hearing that was continued to a later date. I had prepared for weeks. I researched, wrote an outline of my argument, identified the questions I wanted to ask the witnesses, and was overly prepared to appear before the judge. It went fine but we didn’t finish. We were required to reschedule the remainder of the hearing nearly two months later.

I was deflated. I had put so much time and energy into prepping for this hearing only to have no resolution. The end was delayed. All I could see was the many more hours I would now have to put in to prepare for the continued hearing. The many more days and nights this matter would be floating around in my head. It felt like I could not rest until it was over. 

That, my friends, is burnout. It is working too much, expending endless energy on certain issues, personal matters, clients, or cases that you literally cannot function. You begin to distort your own reality. You say, I’ll rest when this is done. I’ll rest when I have put in 80-hours a week ensuring that I am overly prepared for my presentation, my meeting, my hearing. By that time it is too late. When you ignore your own needs daily to focus on your pending projects, you lose sight of the most valuable tool you have in your arsenal – your mental and physical health. 

It’s unsustainable. You cannot endlessly work without hitting a wall. You cannot endlessly put pressure on yourself to do more, to be better, to be perfect without collapsing. When you hit that wall and collapse, bad things happen. You get sick, you destroy relationships, you spend days in bed trying to catch up, your emotions fluctuate into extremes, and you simply live in a fog. 

We have limited stores of energy a day. If we use all our energy on work, it leaves nothing for our personal lives, our health, and our own time. No employer will ever tell you to be less productive. It is the opposite. You are likely rewarded for burning the midnight oil. It is up to you to set boundaries. You have to identify what hours you are going to work, prioritize the projects that need your attention and energy, and then leave something for yourself. You can be a dedicated employee or business owner without burning out. You can also be a role model for coworkers and your staff by setting healthy boundaries.

The consequences of burnout are real but it is up to you to prevent it. You have to be proactive and learn to listen to your body. You have to know what causes you to burn out so you can avoid it. Recognize when you are heading to that wall so that you can divert, rest, and recover. If you need help working through it, let’s talk.