How to Recognize—and Survive—Burnout

One woman remembers the night she hit bottom and reveals the keys to a joyful rebound

by Carol Ross • Next Avenue
woman burned out image

I remember the exact moment when I burned out.

It was in the wee hours of a Saturday morning last summer. I was in my home office after waking up in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep. For two years I had been bootstrapping a startup that was a complement to my career-coaching practice; the new venture was designed to provide university alumni associations with career development programs.

Now, in the midst of this sleepless night, I was trying to find a break in my work schedule. I realized there wasn’t one. Every block of time was labeled and spoken for by others. My time was not my own and I resented it.

I was 50 — and I felt trapped.

In that moment, I realized I had nothing left to give to my business or to my family. I yearned for a wide-open calendar with no appointments, responsibilities or obligations — but I had the exact opposite.

The day before, I had phoned a friend who is a business coach. As I recounted the disappointing results from my startup, I asked her, “Do I sound confused?”

“No," she replied. "You sound tired.”

I burst into tears.  I was tired. Burned out.

I needed to rest.

Click here to learn the signs of burnout on Next Avenue

Next: 5 Ways to Tame Mental Clutter

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