Signs of Burnout

Burnout is not just feeling a little stressed or overwhelmed.

It's is a very particular kind of clinical syndrome.

It's also not a modern phenomenon, but has been happening at least since the industrial revolution.

There are three symptoms.

  1. Emotional exhaustion - richer than physical, it's not just being tired, it's the feeling you cannot handle one more thing on your plate or it'll all fall apart. Even with a good rest, you still feel emotionally tired.
  2. Depersonalization - short fuse, cynical about people's intention
  3. Personal Ineffectiveness - you feel like your work doesn't matter

What leads to burnout?

  1. Increase to workload
  2. Values mismatch - what you do doesn't feel aligned with your values
  3. Unfairness - difference in compensation
  4. Sense of reward - what leads to flow and happiness (intrinsic reward), when things push towards extrinsic reward

Questions to ask yourself

  1. Are you really, really exhausted? (emotionally)
  2. Are you embarrassed about the length of your fuse? (compassion fatigue)
  3. Did your sense of meaning go away?


  • Organizational - pay attention to burnout by focusing on workloads, sense of values, and reward
  • Individual - take care of yourself and think about how you're structuring your relationship with work. Putting too much of identity emphasis on work? Leaving the best of yourself for work, and leftovers for personal relationship?
    • Invest on relationship outside of work and engage with your health and hobbies. Develop an identity outside of work.