The Three Red Flags of Burnout

You’ve probably heard the parable about the boiled frog: if a live frog is placed in boiling water it will immediately jump out. But if that same frog is placed in tepid water that is slowly brought to the boil, the frog will not perceive the threat until it’s too late.

That’s how burnout works – it’s not an immediate, ‘hot’ stressor, rather it’s a slow increasing stress that causes us to burn out

Check out these three red flags to see if you’re heading for burnout (and what you can do to avoid it):

Exhaustion. You know how exhaustion feels. It’s like a virus, it creeps up on you and before you realize it, it’s knocked you off your feet. Exhaustion makes us cranky, interferes with our ability to focus, undermines our productivity, and makes it difficult to take pleasure in things that used to bring us joy.

     Quick fix: The body and brain need downtime from work. What activities feed your energy instead of draining it? Put those pursuits back on your ‘to-do’ list.

Cynicism. Have you lost your ability to care about work? Cynicism is a defense mechanism triggered when we feel angry or hurt. Work environments where employees feel disempowered, lack autonomy, or are inadequately rewarded are breeding grounds for cynicism. Is your workplace making you cynical?

     Quick fix: Identify the source of your cynicism and let it go. If quitting isn’t an option remember the serenity prayer: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Inefficacy. Do you feel like you lack the power to produce the results you want? It’s hard to be at peak performance when poor results leave you feeling incompetent, powerless, and unproductive.

     Quick fix: Set small, achievable goals and take the steps needed to accomplish them. Baby steps lead to walking, which eventually lead to running.

Do any of these red flags feel familiar? By increasing your awareness of each, you can avert a potentially dangerous situation in your life. Often, that’s all it takes to release the pressure of burnout, and the possibility for a fresh outlook will be just around the corner.

To learn even more about Burnout, the warning signs and methods to recover, please join me on my webinar on September 18th by registering at