Over the past two weeks, we’ve gone over the signs and symptoms of burnout according to Christina Maslach, PhD., a burnout researcher who provides us with the majority of knowledge that is used today when talking about burnout.

Maslach tells us that burnout consists of:

  1. Physical and Emotional Exhaustion
  2. Cynicism and Detachment
  3. Lack of Accomplishment

Today’s post is all about addressed number 3. Lack of Accomplishment. This one isn’t as natural as the first two in my mind. I mean, it seems obvious to me that when you’re burnt out, you’re tired and cranky – but less accomplished? How does that work?

When I started digging deeper into this work, I kept hearing the same words from clients over and over: “I feel like I’m not making a big enough impact.” After the 5th, 7th, 12th time – it hit me.

People aren’t burning out because they aren’t making an impact. They feel like they’re not making an impact because they’re burnt out.


Now, hear me out on this.

When you become detached and cynical, it’s hard to notice your impact. It can feel like you’ve lost your purpose – even if you are in the right field and you love what you do. When you think that nothing is worth it and none of it makes any sense – how can you see the value of what you’re doing? When the quality of what you do goes down because you’re tired and cranky, it’s hard to think that what you put out in the world makes a change.

And the most difficult part? When you start thinking about this, you realize it’s impossible to understand your true impact on the world. Not all of us are Oprah. I’ve been so lucky to help 100’s of families have babies and countless others live better through coaching and acupuncture. I don’t wake up feeling like I changed the world every day. When I was leaving Prague, I got a pile of cards that shared with me the impact I had on people’s lives. I love reading them and even while I read – it’s hard for me to accept that I helped. I read it and think “Wow, I’m so proud of her, she really DID IT”.

My job, by its nature, is impactful on a personal level. But yours doesn’t have to be. You have no IDEA what your smile did for the cashier at the grocery store this morning. How good does it feel when the person in front of you does something simple like pay for your coffee? Every job, every interaction, every moment is a chance for positive impact and you take advantage of it by being responsible for the energy you carry with you. If you decide to bring kindness with you through life, you’re changing lives. No matter what your job is, hear me when I say this: YOU MAKE AN IMPACT ON THE WORLD.

The question you have to answer is: What kind of impact do you want to make?

The conundrum when you’re burnt out is that you are tired, cynical, annoyed and judging your lack of impact – and at the same time, the energy that you’re carrying with you is..well, sort of shitty. And, once again, you’re stuck in a closed cycle.

Notice a pattern here? Each of the past three weeks, the symptoms that are associated with burnout are ALWAYS in a closed pattern – one that feeds off itself. This is precisely why it is so important to work with someone when you’re burnt out. The energy required to throw a wrench in the cycle and stop the madness is usually out of your reach – but an outside observer can do it for you and that can change everything.

If you’re feeling less than impactful these days, try this: be kind to yourself today. Just for the day. It’s the easiest way to improve your energy and that impacts everyone you come into contact with.


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wiseher Cait Donovan on DaoCloud