What Is Burnout and How Can You Recover From It?

Busy has become a badge of honor in our culture. The busier you are, the more impressive you are, right?

Don’t get me wrong—motivation and drive are great. But it seems like the busier people get, the more they report feeling burned out (go figure). Gallup did a study of almost 7,500 full-time employees and found that about two-thirds of them have experienced burnout at work.1

You may know the feeling of burnout all too well. You have the Sunday Scaries, you feel hopeless on your drive to work, you stop trying as hard as you used to, and it feels like every spark of excitement you once had is gone. You might think this is normal, but the truth is: You don’t have to live this way. There’s a way out!

Let’s start by defining the problem, and then I’ll walk you through what you can do to fix it.

What is Burnout?

Burnout happens when stress and exhaustion from your job builds up so much that it drains your energy and robs you of your sense of purpose. It affects every part of you—your work, your relationships, and your health. Those stressors start to build up and make you feel hopeless and just plain miserable.

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So, how did you get there to begin with?

Causes of Burnout

As I talk to people across the country about their problems with burnout, I hear the same causes come up over and over:

  • No passion for your work: When your job doesn’t matter to you, you begin to believe that your work doesn’t matter at all. Then, you start believing that you don’t matter. This is why a lack of passion quickly leads to burnout.
  • Toxic workplace: Being around poor leadership, gossipy coworkers, or teammates who don’t trust one another (or all of the above) is downright draining. No matter how hard you try to have a good attitude, that kind of negativity day after day will crush your spirit.
  • Boredom: Maybe you still like your line of work, but you feel like you’ve hit a wall because you’re doing the same tasks day in and day out with no opportunity for growth. When you’re not challenged at work, motivation to even show up will be slim.
  • Feeling overwhelmed: You might be feeling the effects of burnout because you’re being overworked. Staying late each night and wrecking your work-life balance is enough to make anyone’s health go downhill.
  • Feeling underappreciated: Let’s face it: Everyone needs to feel appreciated. That doesn’t mean you need constant awards, applause and pats on the back. But if you’ve gone months, or even years, without having your hard work recognized, that starts to hurt.

If you’ve been experiencing one or more of these common causes of burnout, don’t lose hope. Believe it or not, you can wake up every day excited to go to work—it’s called living the dream! If you’re willing to work for it, you can get there. Let’s walk through a few ways you can recover from burnout and be on your way to the dream job.

How To Recover From Burnout

Folks, hear me on this: Recovery might take a while. If you’re truly drained, you can’t expect a weekend getaway or a good night’s sleep to fix the problem on the spot. It’s a process that will require effort, time, and maybe more than one approach. Here are a few to get you started:

Rediscover Your Why

Understanding your why means getting clarity on your purpose at work. This is important because when you don’t know why you do something, it’s hard to push through when things get hard. In order to rediscover your why (or discover it for the first time), ask yourself questions like:

  • Do I genuinely enjoy the work I do right now?
  • Do I connect with the results my work produces?
  • Am I tapping into what I do best (my talents) and what I love to do most (my passions)?

I just want to warn you: These questions might reveal that the job you’re in today isn’t where you should stay. But don’t put in your two-week notice just yet! First, take my free quiz, Should I Quit My Job, to get clarity and a step-by-step plan on how to land your dream job.

Is It Time To Quit Your Job?

Take this free quiz to get the clarity you need to make a confident decision.

Speak Up

I always recommend you talk with your leader before making any major job changes. If you have way too much on your plate, ask your leader to help you prioritize and set boundaries. If people around you are gossiping or stabbing each other in the back, bring it to your leader first and then—if appropriate—talk with your coworkers directly.

Communication is the key to a healthy work environment! If your leader isn’t willing to truly lead in these areas by helping you reach a solution, then you’ve got yourself another good reason to start looking for a new job.

Change Your Perspective

This one’s not always easy, but sometimes you need to adjust your attitude and see your job in a new light. There might be times you need to stay in a job you don’t love longer than you want because you’re job hunting for a better opportunity. Your current job is funding your future—that’s something to be grateful for!

Whatever your situation, always look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Instead of focusing on the fact that you’re dissatisfied with your job, focus on the good things the job is helping you accomplish right now and look forward to what’s coming in the near future. Remember that nothing has to be permanent. You’re not required to stay in the same job for the rest of your life, but right now it’s serving a good purpose.

Change Your Role

Maybe you love the company you work for, but there’s a different role that better suits your unique skills and passions. If there are any open internal positions you’re interested in and know you’d be a great fit for, talk with your leader about the possibility of making a transition.

Change Your Location

In order to do what you love, you need to be around people who are doing it and in places where it’s happening (that’s something I call the Proximity Principle).

If you can’t do what you love in your own town, it might be time to broaden your career search and consider relocating to another city or state. But before you make a bold move, I want you to either have a new job on the table before you quit or three to six months of living expenses saved to keep you afloat while you job hunt. When you do decide to make a move, download our relocation guide to to make the transition as easy as possible.

Whatever you decide to do, just remember that any job you ever have will bring a unique set of challenges and struggles. We all have bad days, even in work we love! But when you’re doing what you’re meant to do in a healthy environment, you may get tired, but burnout won’t be a problem.

Redefining The Problem: Buildup

Folks, the feelings of exhaustion and hopelessness you’re experiencing are very real. But let me encourage you: You’re not really burned out. The only moment in your lifetime you truly “burn out” is the moment you die.

Are you still alive and breathing? If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume so. That means there’s still time to turn your situation around.

Instead of calling what you’re feeling burnout, I want you to think of it as buildup. Buildup is what happens when too much negativity from your workplace piles up over time. It can be so gradual that you don’t even notice it until one day when you realize you’re buried under the weight of it all.


But even if you feel like you’ve come to the end of your rope, buildup doesn’t have to be the end. It can actually be an opportunity for a new beginning. You were designed to play a unique role in life. Someone out there needs you to be you—so don’t let buildup stand in your way of doing what you were made to do!

And don’t forget to download my free quiz, Should I Quit My Job, to find out what your next right step is. And if you still need more guidance, call me and ask me your questions at 844.747.2577, or email me at ask@kencoleman.com. I’d love to talk with you!


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