We Need to Talk about Burnout

Career Blog

Published: January 19, 2022 by Jillian Collins

We all have high expectations set for ourselves. Burnout is when those expectations cross the line from the goals we celebrate, to defining who we are, by our metric of “perfection.” Knowing what burnout is – and isn’t – will help you now, before you find yourself caught in it later.

Burnout vs. Stress

The main issue is we confuse stress with burnout. It’s easier to admit to being stressed. Stress implies you’ve managed to get a lot on your to-do list crossed out – it’s just that there’s a couple of more items. Stress sucks, but there’s a tangible outcome that’s in your control. Stress is a temporary frustration.

Burnout is a full-stop to productivity functionality, even if you feel like you are functioning productively. Burnout is tunnel vision that narrows and narrows. And then, you hit a wall and your limit. Burnout is overly focusing on how we define our “perfection” – a “perfection” that takes over our mindset, to the point where it defines us.

Burnout is Unhealthy

Burnout impacts everything. Your mental, emotional, and physical health is at risk with burnout. Remember that unrealistic ideas of “perfection” have taken over your power to be successful. You’re feeling powerless because that “perfection” has overridden your power to keep afloat.

The toll on your physical health patterns, mental wellness, and emotional security is an indicator of burnout. A big, flashing red light telling you to ease up. You need to reach out to a friend, a family member, or a wellness professional to help you and maintain your health.

Some Indicators of Burnout

You’ll face burnout in your career. The insidious nature of burnout is that you may not see it coming, and it may be different for you than anyone else. While we all see things differently, some small things that can be a big sign of burnout are:

  • Productivity, but not productive. Burnout is false productivity. The focus is the deadline. The deadline can only be met by working non-stop for 10 hours in one day, without noticing that it’s been 10 hours. That’s just one deadline, one obligation though. You did accomplish a task. But to accomplish it, you let opportunities slip away.
  • Avoiding accomplishments. But burnout takes the “I did it!” moments saved in your mind and deletes them – the victories that prove you are going to achieve your goals no matter what. Burnout robs you of acknowledging those victories.
  • A “failure feeling” free-fall. In your career, you will have genuine praise and moments where you – and only you – had the best possible work out of the team. Instead, you may feel like the other shoe is going to drop. What did you do wrong? And what’s next? Others don’t see anything wrong, but you think you’re doing everything wrong.

Being Aware is Being Prepared

Burnout takes the joy out of your self-worth, sacrificing the energy you have and tying self-worth and identity into the job. Burnout boxes you into that one single area of a task, and you may find yourself missing out on opportunities beyond – or within – that task. Overworking yourself, spinning your wheels, and not going anywhere.

The cost of doing business isn’t the cost of who you are and what brings you joy. Measuring yourself with expectations that are not realistic in your career hinders success. The best way to combat burnout is to know it happens, and that it’s healthier to admit it – and find there is comfort that you have the control to know it when you feel it; have support in place when you need it most.

Quick Jot from Jillian

I don’t think we really talk about personal burnout in context of our professional futures. It’s hard to admit because it’s hard to see. I think that knowing about burnout is a positive thing, because it opens a conversation with yourself and others.

To keep going, acknowledge that burnout is real, and it happens to everyone. Your greatest strength having empathy for yourself. Give yourself credit and cut yourself some slack.

Out of every career kit skill you have, the most important is to spot burnout, and know that you can reach out when you feel the heat of a burnout inferno.

Career Opportunities

  • Curatorial Assistant. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Los Angeles, CA. Learn more and apply via LinkedIn
  • Library Marketing Assistant. Penguin Random House, LLC. New York, NY. Apply via company website

Mark Your Calendar!

Strategies For Job Searching and Job Landing hosted by Kim Dority

  • Date: Wednesday, January 19, 2022
  • Time: 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (Pacific Time)
  • Location: Register here to attend this Zoom event

SLASC Presentation: Jada Jones, Federal Government Military Librarian

  • Date: Sunday, January 30, 2022
  • Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. (Pacific Time)
  • Location: Register here to attend this Zoom event


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