Burned Out? – What To Do About It (Besides Quit)


Feeling like you’re burned out? Have you lost your focus? Are you having difficulty remembering if you ever had one? Do you wake up tired? Is your energy low, as well as your enthusiasm? Have you lost your zest, your joy in what you do? These are all classic signs of burn out.

Why be concerned about being burned out? A couple of reasons: First, when it strikes, we are much less effective, so much so that it often becomes apparent to clients, prospects and alliance partners. Secondly, in my experience, burn out is the greatest risk to our long-term success. It drives a huge number of people back to the cubicle farm or keeps them from performing up to their potential.

What causes burn out? Many of these you may already recognize, but some may be new.

  • Long hours, stress
  • Coping with factors beyond our control
  • Never really being away from work
  • Lack of appreciation in our personal or professional life
  • Perceived competition
  • Failure to celebrate the big victories in a tangible way
  • Seeing only “The Gap” – the difference between where you are and where you’d like to be.

Sometimes as coaches or consultants first approach me, they say they aren’t closing, they aren’t making enough money and that everything seems like a struggle. But as we explore their challenges, the picture becomes more clear.

Low closing and lower dollars are symptom of struggle. That feeling of struggle, like everything is a monumental effort to push a boulder up the mountain – that’s a prime signal of burn out.

It’s hard to move your business forward when you are standing in a ten foot deep trench caused by burn out. So what can you do about it?

9 Real World Strategies to Move Beyond Feeling Burned Out

Start recovering from burnout now. Here are nine action strategies to get you going:

  1. Determine what’s important. Like most businesses, yours probably follows the 80/20 rule. Your big bottom-line return comes from about 20-30% of your effort.
  2. Streamline your activities and focus on the crucial elements. Commit to a 50 hour week, and find a way to stick with it, or at least get close. As a solo or micropreneur, you get stuck in the middle of everything. Not everything is life or death. Is everything taking longer because you are de-motivated and struggling?
  3. Turn off phones and email for at least a while before you turn out the lights at the end of the day. Trust me, the world won’t come to an end.
  4. Start seeing what you’ve accomplished, instead of seeing the gap. Seeing only “The Gap” (the difference between your goal and your accomplishment) is one of the key predictors of burn out.
  5. Seek out activities that revitalize you.
  6. Get moving physically.
  7. Get involved in something larger, something that gives back or makes a difference in the life of at least one other person not in your family or inner circle.
  8. Give yourself permission not to be perfect.
  9. Get an outside opinion. Streamlining activities and seeing clearly what’s critical are both areas where a second opinion – an extra set of eyes – can make a huge difference for you. Get an objective view (not that of your workaholic spouse or partner or parent). Talk with a friend who’s worked in several industries, and who actually has a personal life. If you think your business doesn’t follow the 80/20 rule – or if your friend agrees that it doesn’t – find a coach who specializes in your profession, or in streamlining solopreneurs and small businesses. They can help you validate your findings and get you to the next step.

Take Action – Make This Your Own

Pick one item from the Combat Burnout list above and implement it this week.

  • Add one item every week to two weeks, but don’t get stressed about it. 🙂 It may be a little uncomfortable at first.
  • Consider this trusted resource:  Is It Time for a Mental Makeover  at www.SteppingIntoBig.com
  • Post a comment below about what stresses you most.
  • Post a comment below about one tool or strategy you use to combat burnout.

You can also check out these related posts:

Is Fear Devouring Your Business?
Bounce Back Fast – 11 Tools in 60 Seconds
How to Get Things Done: 13 Tips in 60 Seconds

Let us know in the comments: where are you running into trouble in your initial prospect conversation?


    • Pat Schuler says

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Maureen! I may well offer a series of articles on this topic. I am finding it to be very common among coaches and consultant.

      Thanks for noticing the 80/20 rule. Let me know if it seems true for your business as well.

  1. says

    Hi Pat,

    Great tips and lots of wisdom. I used to be a workaholic. Now I focus on keeping my work week between 50 to 55 hours. I also learned to give myself pats on the back for my accomplishments. In sales especially, I find that you have to encourage yourself because many times upper management does not make the time to do this. They seem to look for “what have you done for me lately or today”. Motivation is an inside game. I thank God for coaches like you, who know how to balance encouragement, discipline and driving results. Keep up the good work!

    Anchorage, Alaska

    P.S. Do you train sales or business coaches? I’m looking for a good one.

    • Pat Schuler says

      Karen –

      Congratulations on figuring so much out for yourself! What you describe is an epidemic in the sales profession. Motivation is an inside game and it is definitely up to the sales rep. Very few reps have a manager or VP who really motivates or inspires or coaches.

      I do sales and business training and coaching. Please contact me for a complimentary discovery conversation.

    • Pat Schuler says

      Thanks, Beth. Thanks for letting me know what you’re seeing. I am certainly seeing it very frequently in prospective clients. The overwhelm, the feeling something must be wrong with them, since they can’t get everything done, and so many people around them are working endless days – but never feeling caught up.

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