“One cannot enjoy doing the same thing at the same level for long. We grow either bored or frustrated; and then the desire to enjoy ourselves again pushes us to stretch our skills, or discover new opportunities for using them.” —Csikszentmihalyi
“Burnout is nature’s way of telling you, you’ve been going through the motions, your soul has departed; you’re a zombie, a member of the walking dead, a sleepwalker.” — Sam Keen
“Boredom is the root of all evil — the despairing refusal to be oneself.” — Soren Kierkegaard
You don’t actually know what burnout feels like.
Sure, maybe you feel tired at the end of the day, or don’t have the energy to go to the gym after work.
Maybe even getting out of bed is tough.
But, most likely, this lack of energy is not because you are burnt out.
Like most people, you are confused about what it means to be burnt out.
Everybody in society tells us that when you don’t have enough energy, it’s because you’re overwhelmed.
You’ve got too much to do.
Too many demands on your time.
Burnout = overwhelm.
In most cases, being burnt out has nothing to do with being overwhelmed.
Think back to a time when you were energized.
Did you have more or fewer demands on your time and energy during that time period, when you were energized?
The answer is probably more.
But now, you’re burnt out and overwhelmed?
Now that you have even less to do?
What’s going on here?
It’s because you are misunderstanding your feelings of burnout.
You are not actually overwhelmed by the amount of things you have to do, or the amount of obligations you have.
There is something different causing your feelings of burnout.
When you feel burnt out, it’s actually because your world has become unexciting.
You are not interested in what’s going on around you, so of course you don’t have a high amount of energy — of course you feel burnt out.
When you are focused on the weeds, or when you’re doing something that doesn’t inspire you, you are going to feel overwhelmed.
Even if you have very little going on, you are still going to feel de-energized.
So, instead of trying to remove things from your plate, because you have “too much to do”, realize that your feelings of burnout are not caused by overwhelm.
And, by assessing the underlying causes of your burnout, you can make changes in your life to become re-energized.
How Burnout Is Actually Just Boredom
People from all different professions report experiencing burnout.
Their careers and personal lives suffer because they feel burnt out and unable to perform the tasks required of them on a day-to-day basis.
The conclusion becomes that you just have too much too do — that’s why you feel stressed and burnt out.
But, a study published in the journal, Issues of Mental Health Nursing found that, “ As a function of boredom, individuals may feel over-worked or under-employed, and become distracted, stressed, or disillusioned.”
Boredom is the cause of you feeling overwhelmed.
You don’t feel overwhelmed and burnt out because you have too much to do — but rather, you are just bored.
And boredom, especially at work, is very common.
According to a Gallup survey, only 33% of employees are engaged at work, meaning that 67% of people are bored by their work.
67% of people are wandering around, totally uninterested in their jobs.
And many of those bored people, instead of recognizing their boredom, will blame overwhelm.
They will blame neverending deadlines and being overworked for their burnout.
But, the only way to stop the burnout cycle is to address your boredom.
3 Ways Boredom Is Causing Your Burnout
You don’t have too much to do.
That is a lie you are telling yourself.
You just don’t want to do the things you have to do.
You are bored.
But, why are you bored?
What can you do about it?
How can you alleviate the feelings of overwhelm from your life and be re-energized?
Here are 3 ways boredom is causing your burnout and how you can fix it…
1. You’re not challenging yourself.
When most people feel de-energized, they think to themselves, “I’m doing too much. I’m too busy.”
You look around, see all the obligations you have, and assume that it is too much because you are lacking energy.
But, you’ve got it wrong.
It’s not the number of things that you have to do that’s making you feel burnout, it’s the nature of the things you have to do.
You don’t have too many things to do, it’s just that the things you are doing are mundane, monotonous, and unchallenging.
You are not being challenged.
You have let yourself fall into a place of slight discomfort and haven’t moved.
You’re not alone — many people experience this.
You’re just going through your daily routine, just living in a kind of moderate pain, and moderate apathy.
You need something to wake you up to snap you out of mild discomfort.
You need a challenge.
Sometimes, life will give you a challenge in the form of some crisis, and you will find the reserves to become re-energized.
But, most of the time, you have to seek out the challenge.
How can you challenge yourself and in doing so be re-energized and shake off the feelings of burnout?
2. You’re surrounded by boring people.
When you are feeling overwhelmed, remember you are probably just bored.
But, why are you bored?
It could be your environment, which includes the people that you are surrounded by.
If you’re surrounded by boring people, then there’s a high likelihood that you will also be bored.
It’s hard enough to conserve your energy, your mental energy in life, because of all the things that we have stealing our attention.
You have to be constantly vigilant with your attention to conserve it for the things that matter to you.
And, that’s hard enough on its own, let alone when you are surrounded by people who are dragging you down.
The people who are just really not for you.
They will tell you that they want what’s best for you, but they really don’t.
You know they don’t want what’s best for you.
They keep reminding you of all the mistakes and failures you’ve had in the past.
They discredit your goals and make excuses for you.
These are the de-energizing people in your life.
You need to start being deliberate with who you let into your life and get rid of all those people who suck the energy out of you.
3. You’re trying to be someone else.
There are few things as tiring as denying who you are.
Ignoring who you are and trying to be someone else instead will lead to exhaustion and overwhelm — no doubt about it.
You are exactly right the way you are.
Nothing is wrong with you.
You were built this way for a reason.
The unique way that you’re wired is a good thing and gives you particular strengths.
Stop trying to change it, stop trying to be somebody else — be yourself.
Being yourself and following your innate passions is the most interesting thing you can possibly do.
You will not be bored.
But, the more you try to be somebody else, the more de-energized you’re going to feel.
This is especially true if you’re looking at 3 or 4 people who you want to be.
You’re going to subconsciously try to be a combination of all these people.
You might think, “Oh, they’re really good at this skill, so I need to be good at this skill, too” or “I need to talk like they do, I need to act like they do.”
Nothing will de-energize you faster, and nothing will make you feel overwhelmed faster than trying to be someone else.
Just be you and the overwhelm will fade away.
Remember, if you feel burnt out, you’re probably bored. You don’t have too much to do, you are just not doing enough interesting things. And, this boredom is making you feel overwhelmed. You are probably feeling bored because you are not challenging yourself, you’re surrounded by boring and de-energizing people, and you’re trying to be somebody who you’re not. Avoid these 3 things and you’ll feel energized every day. No more burnout.
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