Why we get burned out

by | September 30, 2013

The movie Jerry Maguire tells the story of sports agent Jerry, played by Tom Cruise, as he becomes disillusioned with the dishonesty in his business and has a moral epiphany.

He writes and distributes a memo to his co-workers detailing a better, more honest way to do business, which inspires them all. But Jerry is fired for the memo.

Misreading just how inspired his co-workers were, he tells them he’s starting a new agency and, as he’s leaving, asks, “Who’s coming with me?”

He’s met with dead silence for a long and fateful moment.

Then one woman speaks up and expresses what I fear is all too common: “I’m three weeks away from the pay increase.”

How many people in America are working in a job that they tolerate at best, and suffer through at worst, because they can’t bear to give up their benefits and their “security”? How many of us are dragged out of bed each morning by golden handcuffs?

Is it any wonder that so many people feel burned out?

In his life-changing book, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, writer, teacher, and activist Parker J. Palmer reveals:

“Though usually regarded as the result of trying to give too much, burnout in my experience results from trying to give what I do not possess — the ultimate in giving too little! Burnout is a state of emptiness, to be sure, but it does not result from giving all I have: it merely reveals the nothingness from which I was trying to give in the first place.”

In other words, burnout is a sure sign you’re not living your true purpose.

Want to feel re-energized and rejuvenated? Find and live your purpose.

Living your purpose doesn’t drain your energy, but rather generates it. As Parker Palmer puts it,

“When the give I give to the other is integral to my own nature, when it comes from a place of organic reality within me, it will renew itself — and me — even as I give it away.”

Sure, you may get tired at the end of a long work day, but in the purpose-driven life, you can’t wait to get out of bed each morning.

In her book, Unstoppable, Cynthia Kersey details the results of a study performed by psychologist William Marsten. He asked 3,000 people, “What have you to live for?” And astounding 94 percent of respondents said they had no definite purpose for their lives.

I wonder how many of those respondents are waiting for a pay raise in a job that burns them out.

Cardinal John Henry Newman counseled,

“Fear not that thy life shall come to an end, but rather that it shall never have a beginning.”

Likewise, fear not that you’ll be fired from your job or that your career will end, but rather that you’ll never begin living your purpose.

(For tools to find and live your purpose, click here to download my free toolkit now.)


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