This past week during more than one conversation with key leaders in their field, the conversation turned to burnout and how to avoid it.

I began to think about how does one “burnout” in the first place. I mean I have never heard anyone being burned out of laying on the beach or doing a hobby they love. Is it possible that we should go and find those lucky souls that might enjoy sailing, or scuba diving, and tell them that they must stop this because they might burnout.

What about spending time with family, after all I am sure that if there was something that would cause burnout it would be spending too much time with your family, right?

What I noticed is that the term burnout is most referenced when it comes to the workplace. People reach the burnout phase when they have poured everything they have into a job, not a hobby. I can’t imagine someone who is told by his family and friends that he is going to have to slow down with the wood working he is doing in the garage and spend more time in the office or he is going to burn out.

I once read a book by a great motivational speaker that provided this analogy. “In life there are things you have to do and things you love to do, the ideal situation is when they are both the same.” He went on to say that there must be a balance in life. If your “have to do’s” take more of your time then the “love to do’s” then you will burnout. We must have a balance.

In every career, leadership position or just your role in life, there are things that we have to do. They come in every position we fill for the rest of our time on this earth. The way we avoid burnout, or mental exhaustion, is to make sure that we are also involved in things that we love to do.

There are two things that can cause problems with this somewhat easy solution to life. First, we must know the things that we love to do. While this might sound easy, most of the people that I speak with find it difficult to remember or describe the things they love to do. They have been programmed for so long just to do what you are told, not what you are passionate about. The second difficulty is that that we have built our lives where everything depends on us continuing those things we have to do. After all, laying on the beach does not pay that well, so if you want to eat…. Well, you get the picture.

My suggestion this week is more than an experiment, my suggestion is to take an inventory of your life and figure out if you are spending all of your time on the “have to” side of the scale. If that is the case, you are going to get burned out!

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