Move from Burnout to Motivated

Xperience Growthblogposts

I’ve done some very unscientific polls this week. I’ve asked a handful of groups to raise their hands if they have ever experienced burnout.

Everyone that I’ve asked this of raised their hand. A couple people raised both.

Based on my non-peer reviewed “show of hands” study, it seems everyone has a history of burnout.

In psychology, burnout is defined as “a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress. Though it’s most often caused by problems at work, it can also appear in other areas of life, such as parenting, caretaking or romantic relationships.”

Anna Katharina Schaffner, PhD & professor at University of Kent in Canterbury, England, published a 2022 article in Psychology Today about burnout. She referenced a Gallup poll of 7,500 employees.

Here’s the top 5 reasons for burnout according to the poll:

  • Unfair treatment at work
  • Unmanageable workload
  • Lack of role clarity
  • Lack of communication and support from their manager
  • Unreasonable time pressure

Many in our Xperience Growth community are business owners without “management” oversight. Yet, workload, clarity, support, time pressure are all problems that I’ve spoken with business owners about.

In order to move through burnout and get back to a motivated or happy state, here’s the path to take.

First, a word of caution about what not to do. Remember that burnout is a symptom of prolonged stress. Stress in something that we create internally in our own minds. Yes, outside events can greatly influence us. Ultimately, we internalize and experience stress.

So, don’t first try to solve an internal problem with an external solution. Don’t immediately go to your calendar & look for a time management fix, strive for work/life balance or anything else that has you doing something in hopes you get better.

The problem is that you are shifting the blame from an external event to yourself. You’re telling yourself something like “If only I was better at [fill in the blank], then I wouldn’t be burned out.” The actual stress isn’t addressed AND it’s exasperated by the onus you put on yourself.

Here’s some simple steps to follow that will allow you to go from feeling burned out to feeling motivated.

Find the source of the burnout

Look for an external circumstance that is causing stress leading you to experience burnout. Consider: Unfair treatment at work, Unmanageable workload, Lack of role clarity, Lack of communication and support from their manager, Unreasonable time pressure.

When you identify and name it, it takes the mystery away and better allows you to deal with it.

Practice self compassion

Burnout is an internal feeling. Feelings are natural. Feelings are not failings.

Tell yourself: “It’s natural to feel this way, especially if you see the circumstance they way more do.”

Understand your span of control over the situation and environment.

About the only thing you have control over is what you think & feel and how you act. That’s where to place most of your focus. You do have influence in your immediate world. Look for where you can influence your environment to get rid of the stress that’s causing  burnout. Everything & everyone else that you cannot control or influence you must make peace with. You can’t change it, so don’t beat your head against the brick wall.

Key reflection questions:

  • What’s the emotion or belief that must be true for you to feel the stress I do? Write that down. Don’t judge it, just understand what must be true for you to feel the burnout. 
  • How true is that belief or reason for the emotion actually? What’s more likely to be true? An honest look will reveal that it’s not as real as it might have seemed to be.

Find your motivation

Our values create motivation for us. Now that you’ve cleared some of the stress out of the way, align your values with where you were once feeling burnout. Find more activities and people that align with your values, set-up boundaries that keep stress away and stay true to yourself.

Burnout, like all emotions & feelings are fleeting. Use this path to help quickly move away from the stress and burnout to become motivated and joyful.