by David Cottrell

Three-Minute Coach

Oct 29, 2009

Steps to avoid feeling burned out.


How do I avoid getting totally burned out?

David Cottrell, President and CEO of Cornerstone Leadership Institute, is an internationally known management consultant and author of Monday Morning Mentoring, Monday Morning Choices and Monday Morning Motivation

Always understand that burnout is created by stress—a constant flow of stress, in some cases. If this is happening to you, it can be devastating to your job performance but, more importantly, it can destroy your physical health at the same time.

Your first action should be to evaluate the facts of the situation: Is this problem a long-term challenge or merely a short-term inconvenience?

Next step: Talk to someone about it. Holding the stress inside creates more stress. Sharing your situation with someone you trust—a peer, spouse or spiritual advisor even—will help you discover that something can be done to change the landscape. Third step, if you are in a rut, start digging yourself out. Read something positive, get rest and don’t take yourself so seriously.

Sometimes you need to take another look at your personal goals. If the burnout is prolonged, you may find now is the perfect time to move in a different direction. Before you do, though, take the time to thoroughly understand why you are burned out and make sure the same will not happen at your next opportunity. The grass is not always greener elsewhere. It may be you need to water the grass where you are.

Never over-react. When you are in burnout mode, everything is exaggerated. So, it’s probably not the right time to just “take this job and shove it.” In times of stress and/or ambiguity, never make long-term, life-changing decisions. However this is also not the time to just sit there and hope things improve. Never, in the history of mankind, has any situation improved on it’s own while you sit there, doing nothing.

David Cottrell has more than 25 years of business experience including senior management positions with FedEx and Xerox.