Check Your Gauges: Avoiding Burnout

Check Your Gauges: Avoiding Burnout
October 20, 2016 Tony Ripa

I drive a 2001 Ford Focus so I don’t much pay attention to the tachometer. That gauge is pretty much irrelevant. When I turn on the ignition, I’m more concerned my car starts than the RPM it is producing. 50MPH is about as fast as it goes and that’s when it is coasting downhill. Anything over that speed makes the car grumpy. It begins to rattle and screech, letting me know not to push my luck. If I get anywhere close to the Red Line, there is a good chance the car might combust. Over the years, I’ve learned the limits of the Focus and have come to the realization that it’s an “in town” car as in if I take it on the highway it’s a goner.

IMG_2616_FotorThe tachometer on a worn out Ford Focus might be irrelevant, but the gauges that exist in our heart, mind and soul should be of utter importance. Whether we realize it or not, there is a Red Line that exists for each of us. Unfortunately, our tachometers tend to run hot in the overdone category. Since we have nothing to govern us, we push our lives to the limit. We are driven, but don’t know where we are headed.

Disregarding those warning signs alerting us to our dissatisfaction, confusion and uneasiness about life has the potential to destroy us. We can no longer attempt to disregard the signs that something is broken in our pursuit of perfection, significance and feeling truly alive.

Burnout is more than fatigue or too much stress. It goes deeper than burning the midnight oil for way too long. Burnout is a physical or mental collapse and the scary reality is some of us are on the edge of burnout all the time. If we don’t pay attention to the warning signs of our heart, we all are susceptible to this type of weariness.

Just like a Check Engine light going off warns us of issues underneath the hood, there are behaviors, thought patterns and actions that serve as indicators of distress taking place inside our heart.

The time has come to pay attention to our gauges. In his blog, pastor and author Carey Nieuwhof highlights 9 signs warning you that you are burning out:

  1. Your motivation has faded.
  2. Your main emotion is “numbness” – you no longer feel high or lows
  3. People drain you.
  4. Little things make you disproportionately angry.
  5. You’re becoming cynical.
  6. Your productivity is dropping.
  7. You’re self-medicating.
  8. You don’t laugh anymore.
  9. Sleep and time off no longer refuel you.

The longer you ignore the Check Engine light on your car, the more damage you create and the costlier the repair bill will be. Eventually, the car will tap out and leave you stranded on the side of the road. The same is true with our heart. The more we push and pretend we are just imaging those warn signs the greater the devastation we cause not only in our lives, but in the lives of our family, friends and co-workers.

So, how does one deal with burnout if they see the lights flashing red on their dashboard? How does a person recover from burnout and prevent it from occurring in the future? Carey Nieuwhof gives us 12 keys to getting back from burnout:

  1. photo-1475361441796-3f808c9cb2a3Tell someone
  2. Get help
  3. Lean into your friends
  4. Keep leaning into God
  5. Rest
  6. Find something else to take your attention away from the pain
  7. Do what you can
  8. Don’t do anything drastic or stupid
  9. Trust again
  10. Closely monitor balance
  11. Watch for the warning signs
  12. Take responsibility for the health of your soul
  13. Believe there is hope (Bonus tip)

Here are a few more posts from Carey on this topic:  A Decade Later: My Top 10 Insights on Burnout  and 7 Painful Truths About Burnout and Leadership.

Another great tool in combating future burnout is taking a Self-Care and Lifestyle Balance Inventory. This short 5-minute quiz will shed light on how well you are doing in staying balanced and creating boundaries and margins in your life.

If you are dealing with burnout, please know that the community at PC3 is praying for you. There are times when the weight of our struggles becomes too much to bear alone. Don’t be ashamed to seek the help of others. Asking for help isn’t weakness, but strength in disguise. Our counseling team is here to help you find the freedom in Christ that you need to heal. To learn more about Care and Counseling at PC3, visit