Tag: burnout (page 1 of 4)

The burnout curve

I stumbled across this on LinkedIn. There doesn’t seem to be an authoritative source yet other than the author’s (Nick Petrie) social media posts, which is a shame. So I’m quoting most of it here so I can find and refer to it in future.

In terms of my own experience, I slid down that slope pretty quickly in my teaching career, and definitely experienced the ‘trap’ of going back into a similar situation in a different school. It was also toxic as I had been promoted quickly and, looking back, probably beyond my abilities and experience at the time.

But the great thing about this graphic is that it shows that it’s possible to dig your way out, as I did, by realising that a different path is possible. It hasn’t always been plain sailing, and there have been other, lesser, traumas since. But I’ve definitely grown from my earlier experiences, and this is a handy chart to show people who are near the bottom of the curve.

When we interviewed people who had burned out, they told us remarkably similar stories. 

1. A relentless work ethic – they had a set of beliefs and stories that drove them to work hard – I will deliver, I won’t let people down, I must give 100% at all times.

2. Bottomless workload – they joined organizations that rewarded their work ethic with endless work. The harder they worked the more they were given.

3. Sliding into burnout – thoughts of work became constant. They had trouble switching off in the evenings, work was taking over their life.

4. Ignoring the warning signs – their body was sending signals that something needed to change. They were tense, irritated, exhausted. But they couldn’t slow down – there was too much to do.

5. The breakdown – For those who would not listen, the body and brain had a last resort. They shut down. People couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t drive, couldn’t read. The body refused to go on. 

The trap for many people is the belief that rest is the solution. So, they took a break – a week, a month or a year. They then went back to the same work, with the same mindset and the same behaviors. They got the same result. 

The people we interviewed who genuinely overcame burnout followed a common path. 

6. Meeting friends and mentors – they realized they couldn’t repeat their past. They needed new perspectives and a new approach. They got these from family, peers, coaches, therapists and support groups.

7. Deep reflection – they came off autopilot for the first time in years. They reflected deeply on the past – what caused me to burnout? What was driving me? Then the future – what sort of work and life do I want going forward? How can I move myself towards this vision?

8. Taking action – they took new actions, sometimes big – change of job, change of career – sometimes small – they set new boundaries, restarted a hobby, got a therapist. Some things helped, some things did not. It didn’t matter. The key thing was they were doing NEW things. They were not repeating their old habits. New actions led to new insights and habits.

9. Post traumatic growth – when we interviewed people who took this path 2 years after their burnout, the most surprising thing was how much they had grown from the experience.  

Source: Nick Petrie | LinkedIn

The life run by spreadsheet is not worth living

When work is the most significant thing in your life, you optimise for it. When relationships are are the most significant things in your life, you optimise for those.

I find this post by ‘crypto engineer’ Nat Eliason a bit tragic, to be honest. He says he’s almost always working, there’s zero mention of family, and he says that all of his friends are people who are hustling too.

As Socrates didn’t say, “the life run by spreadsheet is not worth living”.

Here’s the biggest thing to keep in mind when you’re reading about my process:

I’m almost always working.

This is not some Tim Ferrissian “here’s how to work 2 hours a day and make lots of money” post. I tried that. It sucks. You’ll get depressed in about two days if you have an ounce of ambition in you. If you’re trying to optimize around working less, find better work.

It doesn’t mean, though, that I’m always doing things that feel like work. It means I enjoy the work that I do, and I’ve found ways to make my hobbies productive.

Source: How to Be Really, Really, Ridiculously Productive | Nat Eliason

The burnout epidemic

I work an average of about 25 hours per week and I’m tired at the end of it. I can’t even imagine how I coped in my twenties while teaching.

Escalator with man in suit asleep on it

Textile mill workers in Manchester, England, or Lowell, Massachusetts, two centuries ago worked for longer hours than the typical British or American worker today, and they did so in dangerous conditions. They were exhausted, but they did not have the 21st-century psychological condition we call burnout, because they did not believe their work was the path to self-actualization. The ideal that motivates us to work to the point of burnout is the promise that if you work hard, you will live a good life: not just a life of material comfort, but a life of social dignity, moral character and spiritual purpose.


This promise, however, is mostly false. It’s what the philosopher Plato called a “noble lie”, a myth that justifies the fundamental arrangement of society. Plato taught that if people didn’t believe the lie, then society would fall into chaos. And one particular noble lie gets us to believe in the value of hard work. We labor for our bosses’ profit, but convince ourselves we’re attaining the highest good. We hope the job will deliver on its promise, and hope gets us to put in the extra hours, take on the extra project and live with the lack of a raise or the recognition we need.

Source: Your work is not your god: welcome to the age of the burnout epidemic | The Guardian