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When I was in high school, burnout was something you did in your dad’s big old Oldsmobile with the 455 rocket engine that left two big black marks for hundreds of feet down the road. Today it’s used to describe the state of many employees and many managers in most businesses.

We work harder and harder and get less and less satisfaction out of our work, until one day we wake up and realize, “I’m burned out.” As far as I’m concerned, burnout comes from only two things: not making progress (or perhaps not enough progress) on things you do care about, or working too hard for too little on things you don’t care about.

I’ve talked many times about controlling your own destiny — having a plan and working that plan. But it’s true that most people take their career as it comes. They become more and more disenchanted with their career, often not even realizing why, and they resent the pressure to perform at a higher and higher level.

The worst manifestation of this is when you’re tied to your business with “golden handcuffs.” You know, you make enough money that it would take a miracle to replace it. But you’re not happy — maybe even miserable — and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t afford to take a cut in pay to go somewhere else, and you can’ stand to keep your job.

If you’re working in a job you love, but are feeling the effects of burnout, you need a break. No phone, no email, no computer, no homework, no nothing for at least a week (two is better.) If you’re suffering burnout in a job you hate, quit today. You have to have pretty low self worth to work in a job you hate — just for money. Look. You loathe it. You are unfulfilled by it. You are doing it because nothing else pays as well. You wake up in the morning wishing you were sick (or worse, that you could die today) so you didn’t have to go to work. But it’s the money…… That’s the mentality the world’s oldest profession grows out of.

If your life is on a great trajectory but you’re exhausted, get some R&R. You’ll come back ready to tackle anything. If you’re in a dead end career path, get out. Today! Don’t wait. It’s not going to get better. If you’re not happy, it’s just a matter of time before you’re forced out. Don’t leave a job you hate on someone else’s terms. Leave on your own. Today. It will work out. Life is too short to spend it doing something you hate. Move on.

Finally, make sure you break your goals down into smaller bites. You need more successes. Make sure you have a “win” every day. Maybe several times a day. It’s hard to be too bummed when you’re winning every time you turn around. And take time for you. It’s the best time you’ll ever invest.

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