The Path to Burnout

No professional intends to work themselves to burnout, of course, yet more and more are finding themselves there. If it’s not a conscious decision, then how is it that we end up experiencing burnout? From my perspective, it’s often a series of decisions and habits that accumulate over time. Often, these stem from a desire to grow and succeed, but they end up backfiring. Here are some of the most common things that can lead to burnout:

Neglecting a Work-Life Balance

It can feel like dedication when you stay late at the office or get work done on your off days, but when these things become regular habits, they can start to disrupt our work-life balance. You might justify by saying things like, ‘it’s just for this one project’ or ‘I’ll slow down once I reach this goal’, but too often, we find another project or another goal that keeps us in the same pattern. When our work-life balance is off, it erodes our ability to maximize our potential. It tends to make us feel exhausted, stressed, distracted, and overwhelmed, none of which supports our success.

Losing Connection with Your Purpose

Sometimes, we get so caught up in the day-to-day demands that we lose sight of the bigger picture. We start resenting our work instead of enjoying it. When this starts to happen and we ignore it, we encourage feelings of burnout. You might have a long to-do list and a packed schedule, but if you’re so busy that you’ve lost sight of what makes you happy in your work, it might be time to take a step back. It’s important to remember why you started doing the work you do in the first place. What makes you passionate about your job? What are you grateful for? When we stay connected to these things, it helps to prevent burnout.

Skipping Breaks

Similar to neglecting a work-life balance, skipping breaks often comes from a desire to work harder and accomplish more. Though it might look like dedication, it’s often sabotaging our success. When we’re pushing through every day with no time to decompress, we’re asking for problems. This sets us up for mistakes, frustration, and stress. Professionals who see breaks as an unnecessary part of their workday are more likely to find themselves burnt out. Instead, we need to value breaks and see them as an important part of our strategy to achieve the things we want.

Always Saying Yes

You want to grow your career, so turning down an opportunity can feel like a step in the wrong direction. Unfortunately, when we get into the habit of always saying yes, without pausing to check our calendars or energy levels, we can quickly push ourselves to exhaustion. It might feel ambitious to continue taking on more and more, but if it’s maxing out your capacity, you’re not likely to be able to deliver the high-quality work you need to. When you’re regularly in this state of overdrive, burnout probably isn’t far off.


What are the actions and habits that cause talented professionals to experience burnout? Things like neglecting your work-life balance, losing connection with your purpose, skipping breaks, and always saying yes are just a few of the common habits that can promote burnout. This isn’t to say that if these things happen from time to time that you’re destined to burn out. It’s more that when they become chronic patterns, they’re simply not sustainable. Are there other habits you think contribute to burnout? I’d love to hear your thoughts.