6 Ways to Deal with Burnout

By Dominic Soh

May 28, 2014   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

The going gets tough. The rubber hits the road. And the euphoria and adrenalin rush you once had when you concocted that dream of yours is now gone. What’s left is you hitting the wall or rock bottom, and every single step forward feels like an eternity. You are now burnt out, but there are things to help get you back up again.

1. Slow down

The pursuit of our dreams and passions is not a sprint but a marathon. Rushing in a marathon might give you good distance in the short run, but it will kill you in the long haul. If you feel that you’ve been going too fast with things lately, why not slow down so that you can take a breather?

Slowing down may seem counter intuitive in today’s modern, fast-paced and demanding society, where more and more things are becoming “on demand”. However, it’s always better to bring things down a few notches than to face the consequences of crashing and burning.

2. Put things into perspective

Closely related to slowing down, it’s important to pause and take a bird’s eye view on your progress thus far. This will reveal whether the work you’ve been involved in is actually contributing to realising your end goals, instead of just making you busy.

For instance, when I was working on my engineering final-year project, I was immensely stressed out by the sheer scope of my assigned topic. So I planted myself in a computer lab for several weeks and frantically did my research on those topics. It was only when a friend asked me about my project that I discovered that I’ve been so preoccupied with a sub-topic that I’ve taken my eyes off the other components which truly mattered.

3. Speak to people who have done it before

When you really hit the wall in your endeavor, it’s always helpful to hear the story of someone who has been there and done that. It does bring some form of relief and reassurance that the fatigue and exhaustion you now face is indeed part of the process and if they are able to press through and overcome it, so can you.

4. Look back

Don’t forget about how far you have come. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by what lies ahead that we aren’t aware about what have been through so far.

So take stock of your progress and the milestones you have reached in view of the entire endeavour.

5. Identify your purpose

Why in the world are you doing what you are doing? What’s driving and motivating you? What are you looking forward to at the end of the day?

Without a clear sense of purpose, work is merely meaningless labor.

What do you see when you are working to fulfill your passions? Do you just see a never ending list of chores and tasks? Or do you see an outcome that is worth your blood, sweat and tears?

For example, a restaurant staff can either see the mountains of dishes he has to scrub and long lines of impatient customers to tend to. Or he can choose to see himself in a position to deliver exceptional customer service and to make the customers’ patronage the best thing that happened for them on that day.

What do you see?

6. Take small steps, many small steps

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. It also is completed after a series of almost countless steps.

There is no doubt that working towards our dream is challenging and laborious at times. And there will be bits of work that will seem endless, dreadful and menial.

In such a case, just do your best to put one foot ahead of the other. And remind yourself that your efforts are not in vain and that it is only a matter of time before you arrive at your destination.

Go for it! I’m looking forward to hearing your story!

Dominic Soh

Dominic loves to bring the best out of others. He has coached hundreds of university students in their careers and has been featured on 8 Australian media outlets. See his work: Industry-Bootcamp.com

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