No. 63

Every once in a while, I have a friend or hear about someone who has been working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, and this has been going on for months! Because of my own personal experience, I feel very sad for this person, because I know if things do not change they are headed for some very serious problems. Someone once said, "You can burn the candle at both ends and it does produce a brilliant flame, but it sure is hard on the candle." While I began this column with an extreme example, there are many other people in our society today who are under a tremendous amount of stress and without their being aware of it, they may be headed for the modern day phenomenon known as "burnout."
When it comes to our job or career, "burnout" is a relatively new term, and if you will stop and think about it, it came along about the time jet airplanes began to criss-cross the skies. It seems as though our tendency to get burned out is directly related to our penchant for speed. This is quite natural when we stop and think about it. For example, when does a car overheat and blow up? When it's barely moving? Of course not. The dad-burned contraption blows up after it has been running 100 miles an hour for several hours.
But back to the subject of burnout. Please understand, there is a big difference between a person being physically tired and able to rest for a few days, then going back to work, and the person who feels a lot of stress and pressure and it just won't go away. As it relates to this, I heard a humorous story a while back about this school teacher named Maxine, who went to her principal and said, "I've had it up to here. I'm stressed out, the other teachers don't like me, I can't get the kids to mind and I'm just burned out!" The principal said, "Maxine, before you can be burned out, first you have to be lit."
Sometime back, Small Business America, a newsletter of The National Association for the Self-employed, listed 10 causes of burnout. If you have any inclination that you may be headed for burnout, if you are not already there, you may want to think seriously about these causes to see if one or more relate to you. Ten Causes Of Burnout:
1) Do you feel yourself under pressure to succeed all the time? 2) Do you need to generate excitement again and again to keep from feeling bored? 3) Is one area of your life disproportionately important to you? 4) Do you feel a lack of intimacy with the people around you? 5) Are you unable to relax? 6) Are you inflexible, once you have taken a stand on something? 7) Do you identify so closely with your activities that if they fall apart, you do, too? 8) Are you always worried about preserving your image? 9) Are you taking yourself too seriously? 10) Are your goals unclear, shifting back and fourth between long-range and immediate?
Well, how about it? Did you see yourself in any of these 10 causes of burnout? I sure did -- several times! A few years ago, I discovered that I was headed for burnout and I've been able to back the throttle off just a little bit. Having triple by-pass heart surgery will do it every time! What we need to do is slow down and take time to enjoy life because we are not going to get out alive anyway. This reminds me of the fellow who went to the Doctor and asked him the secret of long life. The Doctor said to put a little gun powder on his oatmeal or cereal each morning and that should help. Well, he took his advice and it worked. He lived to be 93 and outlived 3 wives. They said when he died he left behind 8 kids, 13 grandkids, 26 great grandkids and a 9 foot hole in the crematory wall. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)