Burnout versus Flameout

Clark GaitherAre you feeling burned out or has your flame (passion) become extinguished? Both can leave you stuck but each are distinctly different. Although neither state is desirable, If I had a choice I would rather flameout than burnout  and here are the reasons why.

Burnout is comprised of three main components – emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a lack of a sense of personal accomplishment in ones work.

Here are the explanations for each:

  • Emotional Exhaustion – a feeling of being emotionally depleted to the point where you feel you can no longer give of yourself at an emotional or psychological level. KEYWORD: exhaustion
  • Depersonalization – development of negative and cynical feelings leading to a callous and dehumanized perception of patients, clients or customers which further leads to the view that they are somehow deserving of their problems and troubles. KEYWORD: cynicism
  • Lack of a Sense of Personal Accomplishment – feeling so little reward that there is a tendency to evaluate oneself in negative terms which leads to dissatisfaction and unhappiness in one’s work creating a lack of a sense of personal accomplishment. KEYWORD: inefficacy

In short, with burnout you can end up an exhausted ineffective cynic. I don’t know about you but that doesn’t sound good to me. Complete full-blown burnout can be very difficult to correct, not impossible, but difficult. It is best to avoid this condition at all costs.

I believe flameout can best be described as a loss of enthusiasm and energy for one’s passion. Flameout does not include the symptoms of burnout. Everyone who suffers from burnout will always feel flamed out. But, you can be flamed out without being burned out. Here are some of the causes of flameout and some steps you can take to reignite your passion.

  1. Work has become too routine – Routine can lead to boredom after a while. If your passion has become too routine then you may have put your creativity on the shelf. It may be time to dust it off and unleash your creative self again. Creativity and excitement dance hand in hand. If you are continuously creating something new and different then your are probably still very excited, even emotional, when it comes to your passion.
  2. You are sidetracked and drifting – Perhaps you have let yourself drift way from your intended purpose in life. You may have lost your passionate drive because your have pivoted or turned into a headwind or in the wrong direction. Shut down the interference. Eliminate your distractions. Redirect, recalibrate and refocus yourself on what your were meant to do and be.
  3. You are trying to do too much for too many – When you found work for which you were passionate, work then became play for you and you were happy. Then, everyone wanted what you were selling. Now, it just seems like work again. You began to work harder trying to produce more and more. But, now you feel overextended. Or, maybe you are over promising, out stripping your ability to produce comfortably and in a way that suits you and your craft or art. When you suffer your work will suffer. Maybe it is time to slow down and savor your gifts and talents. It is probably better for your product to be essential and relatively scarce versus pedestrian and in relative abundance.

Did you find your life’s calling for which you were once on fire, only to flameout? What were the causes? What else have you found to help reignite or rekindle your passion?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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