Why do we burn out? How do we prevent burnout?

August 12, 2022

Why do we burn out? How do we prevent burnout?

Let’s talk about burnout.

I’ve talked to quite a few people in different fields about burnout. As business owners, entrepreneurs, or whatever it is that we do, we’ve probably come across burnout. It’s that feeling of, like, “You know, I just don’t want to do this anymore.” 

Work and life start to become a little bit repetitive and overbearing. You get tired and unmotivated.

If you don’t address it and let it linger, the feeling of burnout starts to build on itself over time and can create more anxiety, and even lead to depression and actual physical ailments.

Burnout is real.

I interviewed Jim Kwik a while ago for Success magazine. He wrote the book Limitless, and I asked him, “Jim, what about burnout? Why is it that we go through burnout?”

His definition was simple. According to him, burnout is this overwhelming feeling of tiredness and demotivation that makes you go into a state of ‘just stopping,’ and the reason we go through burnout is because we’re doing a lot of things that we don’t love.

It is a simple and quick answer, but there is a lot more to it.

Fast forward to this year. I recently interviewed Jennifer Moss. She wrote a book called The Burnout Epidemic, and in our conversation, she gave me an interesting analogy about burnout. 

She said, “Tristan, it’s like this. Think of the world that we live in right now. In the US, we seem to be writing on a piece of paper, and when we’re writing on this piece of paper, we don’t leave any of that paper open—we write from edge to edge. Edge-to-edge, and it’s almost to the point that it bleeds out to the sides. If there was any more space, we’d probably write on it as well.

“And that’s our life,” she said. “What we need to do with our personal lives is we need to write within the inside of the page and leave the outside for everything else: all the notes about life and all the things that happen.”

I think it is a great analogy. Because as we go through life, when we start looking at things and doing things for ourselves, that’s when we start combating the feeling of burnout.

When I talked to Tony Horton, from P90x, he said, “Tristan, I was going a hundred miles an hour.” And he’s in his sixties now. “I was going full-on, and I was surprised by some stress that I didn’t anticipate,” he continues.

His renewal contract with Beach Body fell apart; his friend, Tom Petty, died; and he got so sick that half his face was paralyzed.

“I couldn’t walk well, I couldn’t go from here to there anymore without my wife having to carry me, and I felt like, this is it. I’m done. This is how I’m going to operate for the rest of my life. But thank God that I started recuperating,” he said.

He started putting himself first and even made a list of 10 mindfulness activities he could do when life got overwhelming and he felt he needed a break.

There are different businesses and industries that require different amounts of work from you, but as an entrepreneur, as we get these different businesses, you’re bound to get different types of stress, and some people are used to some types of stress and others aren’t.

Regardless of what industry you’re in, you’re going to hit that point. And it’s going to feel like you don’t want to do this anymore.

Here’s the thing. I need you to outline the things you’ll do, how you’re going to take care of yourself, and how it comes in different forms for all of us. Some of us love to go walking; some of us love archery; some of us love playing video games; reading; anything. It has to be for you, though.

It’s great that you spend time with your family, friends, and those that you love. But burnout is a little different.

Burnout requires you to be present for yourself. You need to do something for you, something you love that replenishes you so you can show up for others at your fullest. Take 15 to 20 minutes at a time at different parts of the day to take care of yourself, to take care of your mind, soul, and body.

The world that we live in is pulling us left and right, and what happens is that at every meeting, at work, or with somebody like our friends or family, we show up at 50%, 60%, or 70%, because we’re spent.

It not only affects our work, but it affects the relationships we have with the people we love. So, take time to invest in yourself. Write down the things that you absolutely love, that you know will replenish you.

That’s gotta be “you time.” That’s what it comes down to, because a lot of us don’t even realize we’re showing up at 50% and we’re wondering why our relationships suck. Burnout doesn’t just apply to your work, it also applies to your relationships with the people that you love—whether it’s your spouse, children, or friends.

Burnout happens everywhere, and you notice when it’s happening.

Don’t be a burden on other people and don’t be a burden on yourself. Take time to replenish yourself and be there to show up at 100% for the people that you know need you. Burnout is complicated and it gets worse if you don’t take care of it.

So, do me a favor. Today, get a piece of paper, or a journal like I have, and start writing the things you love. The things that you know refill your cup and make it overflow so that some of that can go to the people around you that you know are going to be affected by how you are today.