Leadership and career

How to Know When You’re Totally Burned Out

As an executive recruiter, I contact professionals every day to determine whether they’re seeking a new challenge or opportunity.  As part of my telephone “patter,” I always ask why they’re ready to change jobs.  I’m looking for a ready answer in the affirmative.  The way I see it, if you can’t tell me why you want to leave, then you’re not ready to make the leap.

Or are you?

Hang up and do us both a favor.  Do some soul-searching and really chew on that question for a bit.  You could be burned out and not even recognize the signs.

Does anything on the list below sound familiar?  Read the list, then read it again.  Then maybe we should talk.

The Thrill is Gone, Baby

When you’re asked what you do for a living, do you have a peppy answer – or do you mumble something disparaging?  The amount of pride and enthusiasm with which you respond to this question is a good indicator of where you are on the scale of “on fire with passion” to “totally burned out.”

Dread Kicks in on Sunday Night

We all hate Mondays (at least some of the time).  But do the Monday Morning Blues kick in on Sunday night?  If you feel the dark cloud of despair overhead as early as Sunday evening, you need to ask yourself what that’s all about.

You’re Putting X’s on a Calendar

Are you constantly calculating how far away your retirement is?  If we’re talking months, then no one can blame you for a little clock-watching.  But if you have a few decades left in the saddle but you’re already focused on a count-down, then you need to figure out why you’re not “living in the now.”

You’re Headed Nowhere

Is there absolutely no chance of you moving up and getting a promotion?  If you’ve topped out where you are, then start planning your next move.  If you’re not burned out already, you certainly will be when you realize your job’s a dead end and your hard work is getting you nowhere.

Your Buddies Are Disappearing

Sometimes you can tell what’s going on with yourself by observing what’s going on with your friends and co-workers.  Has everyone that was hired at the same time as you now moved on to something else?  Are you eating lunch alone because your “clique” has outgrown you in some way?

Complain, Complain, Complain

Listen to what you’re saying these days.  Do you gripe about your job ad nauseam?  Ask your spouse and friends if they think you complain.  You might not have noticed.

You Don’t Feel Well Lately

How many times have you called in sick in the past year? Not being happy at work can show itself in your physical health and sleep patterns.  Take stock, and pay close attention to any bad habits you may have developed: overeating or too much drinking, for example.

No One’s Listening

Do you feel like the invisible (wo)man? If meetings are taking place without you or the long extra hours you recently put in on a project went unnoticed, these might be subtle signals that you’ve lost your zing at this job.

Milestones Get You Down

As you approach your birthdays or work anniversaries, the way you feel about the milestone can be an indicator of where you are in your career. Are you proud of past accomplishments or are the milestones a grim reminder of the “more of same” that lies ahead of you?

You Don’t Feel Like Learning Anything New

When you’ve stopped learning, you’ve stopped growing.  If you approach each day like you’re just turning the crank and have stopped seeking opportunities to tackle new things in new ways, then it’s probably time for a change of venue.


Maurice GilbertMaurice Gilbert is Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Search, which specializes in placing Compliance Officers and Legal Counsel for clients in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. Maurice is also CEO of Corporate Compliance Insights, a worldwide publication devoted to governance, risk and compliance issues. Maurice can be reached at maurice@conselium.com or maurice@corporatecomplianceinsights.com.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  Conselium also publishes Corporate Compliance Insights, the Web's premier source for GRC news, opinion, jobs and events.

Enjoyed this? Follow us & Share!

Follow by Email