In December of 2009, I sat across from my boss in a hotel lobby and said, “I am done.” I couldn’t take another minute of continuing to do a job I once loved. For years I had given the job all of my best energy and care, until what felt like an out-of-the-blue, 180 degree turn, landed me in a reduced-schedule medical leave of absence. I was disoriented, scared and depressed. The lovely gift of shame (sarcasm intended) also had a nice way of nipping at my heels. I don’t know if I would have recognized it as shame at the time because I was too tired and numb to even acknowledge it for what it was, however, that’s what burnout can lead to if you don’t attend it.
I thought burnout only happened to people who hated their job and kept doing it anyway. I didn’t think it happened to people who were wholeheartedly committed with passion and “calling” for their work, but I was wrong. Here are some signs that I invite you to notice and see if there are any indications of these in your own life:
- Seemingly from out of nowhere you find you cannot go to one more event or meeting
- You notice you are numb when in conversations with the people you serve or serve alongside
- You go through the motions of what “the right thing to do” is, but you are dreaming about the beach or another job
- Your attention span is short
- You realize the energy behind your actions is more about external pressure than a genuine care for what you do
- Hope seems elusive
- Emotionally you feel busy, but your schedule might not reflect the same kind of busyness you feel internally
- When you rely heavily on a break or vacation and you find that doesn’t quite do the trick anymore
- There is a lack of laughter and joy
- You find yourself isolating
- Your tolerance of people is waning
- You wonder when and how you began to feel disconnected from God
These are just a few indications that you might be experiencing burnout. Do any of these resonate with you? Over the next two months, I will share about how I got to such a low point, my journey of walking through burnout, the things I realized about myself, and how God continues to use that dark period of time to shape my life. I hope you’ll follow along in this series.