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3 Hidden Culprits of Burnout and How to Catch Them ASAP

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Burnout is one of those words you associate with simply being tired, feeling fatigued, or needing a break. But what most people are unaware of is that it goes so much deeper. Some people suffer for years because they can’t get to the root cause of where their burnout is even coming from.

I know, because I’ve been there.

You’re busy. The world is busy. We’re moving at paces faster than we could have ever imagined. We’re living life in the fast lane, so what happens when that thought creeps in? You wake up one day and think: Woah. I’m exhausted. I’m burnt out.

The good news is there might be a hidden culprit lurking under the surface – one that’s actually far easier to catch and fix than, say, getting four more hours of sleep at night. Let’s be real: making a drastic change to your sleep schedule is oftentimes easier said than done, and sometimes even straight up unrealistic (parents of young kids – you know what I mean).

Let’s take a look at three hidden culprits of burnout you might be experiencing right now and how to stop these in their tracks so you can get back to feeling like the most energized, happy version of you. 

A few months after I had my second baby and became a mom of two under two, I remember waking up one day and feeling like I could sleep for an entire decade. I was, as you might describe, exhausted and on the road to burnout. I thought to myself, “Holy crap. I’m going to burn out if something doesn’t change soon.”

I tried taking naps during the day, downing cups of coffee, shortening my to-do lists, and going to bed at 7:00pm but nothing was helping me magically transform into the energizer bunny until I realized I was tired at a soul level.

It was different from any tiredness I’d ever felt before. I felt it in my bones, in my heart, and my soul. I knew I needed to shift it as fast as possible.
After carving out copious amounts of quiet time and doing what I call a “life inventory checks”, I uncovered the source of my almost-burnout and realized it was coming from three specific things:

1. I was giving my power away. 

Aside from being a new mother of two, I was running a business, leading people, and I had more responsibilities than I’ve ever had ever before. I also had people that were helping me – like mentors and coaches. 

While I will always be an advocate for getting support, it’s critical to not make the mistake of putting your success in someone else’s hands. In other words, remember who you are and don’t ever give your power away.

I was so willing and ready to take direction and guidance that I was forgetting that I held the key. YOU hold the key to moving the needle in your life, your happiness, and your career — and you always will. Take back your power and watch your energy levels rise.

Your job is to do the inner work to shift back into a place of remembering who you are and what you’re capable of. No external force or person can do it for you. When you remember that, you will feel a shift in energy. You’ll find yourself overcoming that sense of tiredness or fatigue that you once thought was burnout. It all starts with reconnecting to the power within you.

Take a moment to do an inventory of how connected you are to your power right now. Grab a piece of paper and write down every single thing you’ve accomplished or overcome in this lifetime (big and small – it ALL counts). Look at this list and remember that you are the one who did it. You hold the power.

“Burnout is what happens when you try to avoid being human for too long.” – Michael Gungor

2. I wasn’t in full alignment with every area of my career. 

Now, you might not be a business owner or an entrepreneur like me. You might have a demanding corporate career or a 9-5 job. What I know is that if you are not in alignment with your career, or the path in which your career is headed, it can silently drain you and put you on the path toward burnout.

I didn’t wake up every day intending to be out of alignment – it happened accidentally over time as I filled my head with more external voices and noise. I slowly became disconnected from who I was and how I wanted to show up in my career.

If you’re feeling this now, it’s time to do another inventory. Ask yourself, “Am I in the career I actually want to be in? Am I on a path that’s moving me towards the career that I want to be in? Am I running my business in the way I actually want to or am I running it in a way that somebody told me I had to in order to be successful? Do my daily habits support me and help me move closer to my goals?”

If any of your answers are no, it’s time for a change so you can get back into alignment and avoid burnout.

Note: the key here is to be honest with yourself from a non-judgemental place. Radical honesty and self compassion will lead you to have the hard conversations that lead to clarity and breakthroughs. You will lead yourself to a life (and career) you love living. 

3. I wasn’t giving myself enough play time. 

Hear me out when I say it’s time to be more like our kids.

If you’ve ever watched a two year old play on a playground you know what I’m talking about here: it’s that sense of not having a care in the world, forgetting what time it is, and heck – forgetting that time even exists.

It’s that sense of being so in the moment that no external factor or circumstance could even come close to affecting you or your happiness. I realized I wasn’t giving myself enough of this and I wasn’t taking the time to actually cultivate a sense of play throughout my days. Thus, this manifested in my life by feeling constantly tired and burnt out.

So, it’s time to do one final inventory:

Are you giving yourself permission to play? Are you giving yourself permission to have fun despite the real-life adult responsibilities that life holds for you every day? Are you carving out space to do the things that make you so happy you could laugh until you cry?

Are you giving yourself that gift?

If the answer is no, it’s time for a shift. It’s time to reconnect with your inner child because that child is begging to be let out and help you get back to the most energized, happiest, non-burnt-out version of you.

Lauren Gordon is an international entrepreneur, writer and mother of three. After leaving her hometown on a one-way ticket across the world with $500 to her name, she built a successful online business while pregnant. Aside from writing for the world's largest publications, she now empowers women by documenting her life and sharing lessons on motherhood and personal development. Connect with Lauren and follow along for relatable content on Instagram and TikTok.

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