I want to preface this post with a request - I ask you all to push your comfort zones today. I want to bring an air of humility and vulnerability to this lesson. Let's be real with each other. Too many of us have fallen trap to the idea of hustle porn. In today’s ecosystem we are flooded with ideas of 80 plus hour workweeks and there is the perception that to be successful you need to grind.
So today, let's have a look at recognizing burnout, and breaking it down into five stages:
The first stage, infatuation, is is just like the start of a new relationship. Everything is fresh and that new job of yours is the latest cute guy/gal to catch your eye. In the early stages you love spending time working and you make excuses for the slight inconveniences. You start staying late to get things done but in reality you just want to be there
Those late nights at the office become more and more frequent. And before you know it your hobbies have slipped away. Maybe you used to go the the gym or play guitar, yet now all you want to do is work. Which is fine right? You begin justifying yourself in that its for work and that is productive.
This is when the exhaustion sets it. You still love what you’re doing but you recognize the exhaustion setting in. You start sleeping in or losing focus. The late nights are getting taxing and you realize you're starting to make mistakes.
These mistakes start to really weigh on you. Before you know it your passion project has turned into an uphill battle and you can’t keep up. When you get home at night now you can’t stop worrying about the next day and how behind you feel. Its a vicious cycle because the less efficient you get the more you can’t keep up, which tires you out more.
After succumbing to this chronic stress for too long, you stop caring. And this is when you’ve reached burnout. You still show up and do your job because you don’t want to quit. But the truth is, you don’t care anymore. If you don’t get your work done it doesn’t matter because you are so tired all the time. Life begins losing its sparkle, because your once idolized career is now sucking the life out of you. You don’t know what to do.
I believe the idea of ‘the grind’ has been exploited to a point of it now being unhealthy. Those hours are not sustainable, and your output as an individual and as a company begin to suffer after too much hustle. Most of us have been there - you wake up in the morning, exhausted from working late the night before. And we get up anyways because we work hard and we have a dream. That's great and you crush your morning workout and feel on top of the world again. Except it's not sustainable, and you start to feel the lingerings of burnout. What used to make you feel proud and energized begins to feel like a liability.
The world today romanticizes working tirelessly, and I think it is incredibly important to be able to recognize this process of burnout before it sets in, and before reaching that point. I've been there a number of times and I hope this post may highlight these stages and warn you if you see yourself approaching this concept of burnout.
Stay tuned for more posts and recommendations on the topic, and until then keep trekking folks.