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by Dr. Beverly Potter

Without work, all life goes rotten,
But when work is soulless, life stifles and dies.
-Albert Camus

Many people experience work as drudgery and their jobs as painfully empty. A "soulless" work day can leave people feeling drained and "used up," with little desire to return to that job the next day. Soulless work consumes enthusiasm until motivation goes dry. Skills and knowledge remains intact, but the will to perform the spirit within is diminished. Smothering the will, burnout is a malaise of the spirit. In the process motivation, that mysterious force that gets us moving is damaged in the worst cases, even destroyed.

Hardest hit are service providers like nurses, counselors, and police officers who often become cynical about their work and openly hostile to the very people they're dedicated to serving. Jobs that involve life or death decisions such as being a platoon captain or a heart surgeon have high burnout potential. Managers, team leaders, and others who work with people are also at high risk. Other burnout-prone professions are those that require working under demanding time schedules such as newspaper journalism; those that require exacting attention such as air-traffic controllers; those that involve detailed work, such as proofreaders; those that are "politically incorrect" such as nuclear plant supervisors and IRS agents, for example.

No one is immune from job burnout.
  Any person, in any profession,
  at any level can become a candidate for job burnout.
Job Depression
Job burnout could be called job depression. Some people wonder how to determine if the problem is one of general depression that infects ones work, or if it is job depression that infects one's life. Answering this chicken-and-egg type of question is academic. Whether the source of your burnout is in your job or your personal life, in either case burnout is a trap because the process wears you down until it becomes too painful to act. You must take action to break out of the burnout cycle.The first step is to isolate and identify the situations undermining your motivation.
Burnout is not an all-or-nothing proposition.
Like fire, motivation gets stronger and burns hotter, or diminishes and burns out. There is no constant state. On any particular day enthusiasm for work is increasing or decreasing but it does not remain the same. Even the hottest fires will burn out, so we tend them fanning, stoking, and occasionally adding another log. Like fires, people are not static. When motivation wanes, we burn out. There is no need for alarm as long as you still have fuel, know how to tend motivation, and haven't waited too long.

To find out if you are burning out, go to the test called "Am I Burning Out?" test where you will find a self-scoring quiz which will give you an idea of how people caught in the burnout cycle feel.

Copyright © 1980, 1993, 1998: Beverly A. Potter, from Overcoming Job Burnout: How to Renew Enthusiasm for Work, Ronin.  All Rights Reserved. This article man be down loaded for person use.  Any other use requires written permission from docpotter.

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