What's it like being burned out?

Billion with a B's picture
Rank: Human | 15,794

Just sat and read this article and then landed on this post here on WSO. I could not get this out of my head because I have vaguely seen this talked about over and over again, because it's not actually just typical to banking. Most high-powered careers in modern society take its toll on its professionals. But there's got to be some way of coping with the modern stresses in order to have both success and a sense of a more fulfilling life. Here's what the aforementioned article had to say about the psychology behind the 'burn out':


....in our high-performance society, it's feelings of inadequacy, not conflict, that bring on depression....Burnout increases as work insinuates itself more and more into every corner of life - if a spare hour can be snatched to read a novel, walk the dog or eat with one's family, it quickly becomes contaminated by stray thoughts of looming deadlines. Even during sleep, flickering images of spreadsheets and snatches of management speak invade the mind, while slumbering fingers hover over the duvet, tapping away at a phantom keyboard.

As the shop where I now work is very small, there are trade-offs in deal sizes and projects I'd consider to be interesting, so I am interested in taking a more challenging plunge even if it comes with more stressful hours and demands. But I am wondering how does the community view their own stress and what methods of coping might be out there. Any useful insights will be helpful!

Comments (52)

Sep 7, 2016

Interesting post. I just read up on something called the Imposter Syndrome and it seems to be one of the mischievous causes of these burn-outs. I definitely agree that burn-outs are something less talked about in public, but they do exist. Stress is a given, people experience it more often than you think - it can be physical, mental, or emotional. But what matters is how you manage and deal with it - i.e. stress management.

For example, imagine two people who have recently received a promotion at work. They'll both feel good and on top of the world. But say Person A's momentum dies down within a couple of weeks and starts to burn out while Person B just seems to cruise on. What's the difference between these two? Resilience. The difference lies between their habits and attitude.

In short: Invest the time now to build positive habits. These little changes will on with you and cause you to better manage future stress.

    • 1
    • 2
Sep 7, 2016

+1 SB for this response

Sep 7, 2016

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from something and it's inappropriate to use concerning someone who received a promotion.

OP, great article.

Sep 8, 2016

Maybe the promotion meant handling more tasks, meeting larger targets, and Person A wasn't mentally ready for the pressure. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from something - perhaps that something is a stressful situation?

Sep 7, 2016

Burnout is when you lose the willpower to re-energise (special activities) yourself.

Absolute truths don't exist... celebrated opinions do.

Sep 7, 2016

For those that have gone through it, what is the best way to overcome and reignite the fire within?

Sep 7, 2016

The only way I know how is to eliminate vain activities (clubbing/bars, random sex, drugs, blowing money, etc...) to the extent that it allows you to do things that truly enrich your life (e.g. family, friends, religion, physical activity, personal studies, etc...) If you drink until 4 am, it's pretty difficult to wake up for that 7 am hike. If you keep seeing the girl that gives it up that you dont care about, it's harder to develop relationships with that girl you actually think is attractive but requires more work. It goes on but I'll stop there.

    • 3
Sep 8, 2016

i've never been depressed (as far as i know), but i've definitely been burnt out with work, i imagine they're similar

there's a difference between being burnt out with "the grind" and being burnt out with a specific job (mine was the latter). both have their own solutions, luckily i got through it and am still with the job i was once burnt out with, had to change my perspective, rearrange some projects, give it a fresh start, etc etc

What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

Sep 9, 2016

What marriage feels like after ten years

Sep 9, 2016

Burnout is when you sleep for 12 hours a night for 10 straight days and still feel tired every morning you wake up

Sep 9, 2016

i guess im going through something of a "burn out" or phase of depression.

basically, my whole life i was the academic type, got into the best schools, always top of class etc, just like many of you here im sure. issue is, other areas of my life were severely neglected.

now im at a target school, undergrad, only my first week in, and im already strongly considering dropping out. ive talked about some of this here in the past but its only been met with monkey shit and people who dont know what they are talking about.

im 20, and a kissless virgin. never even been on a date. this obviously has psychological consequences as well.

im already skipping some clases and feeling quite depressed and unmotivated. i just dont grasp the point of busting my ass for years, then working in a very high cost city to live in for years more, working 70 or more hours per week, just to still be an ugly virgin who is depressed.

most people here that end up replying to me dont really get it and say bizarre things like money is the most important factor for women, just go out and try, etc etc. this leads me to believe most of u guys are either a.) ugly as well but delude yourselves into thinking money will solve your issue with women, or perhaps more likely b.) attractive or at least above avg, and never had major issues with women.

at this point, i am genuinely starting to thinking moving to eastern europe would be a smarter move for me long term. could move there , much lower cost of living than nyc , escorts are affordable at around 100 usd per hour and legal , unlike in nyc 400 usd per hour and illegal. would of course make less, but just invest what i have and hopefully live off the semi passive cashflow, being able to always attempt starting something of my own in the future due to pre exisitjng capital and time. vs spending money being here for years, stressed and depressed and likely still a virgin, moving to nyc and assuming i land an analyst position there, likely hover around the 200-300k income range until im 30+, at which point i may likely have taken my own life already lol, and having to work grueling hours in a high cost area, no sex due to being ugly etc.

its made me realize that looks, barring legitimate poverty, are the most important things in life (at least for a male).

they affect every facet of your life , and like i already said here earlier to much dissaproval, they are the only factor that actually leads to sexual atteaction. im not saying money cant land u a lot of women, but they wont be attracted to me and will likely cheat with a more attractive male, so in essence they would be glorifed escorts anyway, albeit likely much more expensive than 100 usd per sex session.

to wrap up, i guess burnout or depression just feels very hopeless, sad, angry, and lost.

    • 1
Sep 9, 2016

Prostitutes come with their own set of disgusting problems that you don't want. I would advise strongly against that. But of course you want to get laid, it's very normal. It's also funny that you discredit claims that all it takes to get women is money, then you lay out the bill for feeding your want for sex, including income and hourly rates of the escotrts.

It really only takes money because girls care more about general appearances than simply physical looks. If I were you, I would start this now. Get in the gym, learn how to hold an interesting conversation, stop trying to be the most comfortable person in the room and buy a $90-120 pair of jeans and a pair of really nice shoes instead of your walkers and you're in. Fake it till you make it! You will at least start off banging 5s or 6s. Nothing wrong with that, because trust me, all guys bang 5s maybe 4s even.

And I think your issues is similar to being burned out because your confidence is shit. Hopefully your situation is not too complicated.

Sep 9, 2016

i do appreciate ur advice and am not trying to be a prick, but hear me out.

what i mean when i quantify sex is that, if i have to use money to get a girl that isnt even attracted to me and who will likely cheat anyway and ill just be the beta provider, why not go the much more efficient route and use escorts.. better looking , cheaper, faster easier etc. just go look up escorts in poland or prague czech republic to see what i mean.

i already dress nicely, idk what "walkers" are.. i usually wear sperrys during the warm months and timberland boots during snow. ive also been lifting weights for almost 3 years now.

the issue is my face more than anything else really. i also have a bit of a block/stammer (speech impediment), which just makes it that much harder i guess.

i think girls only care about looks, and of that 80 percent of it is ur face, when it comes to sexual attraction. ive seen hot guys do well, ive even used pics of good looking guys on tinder and its almost comical how easy it is.. tons of matches and receptive women, where as when i use my pics, i hardly get any matches and they are unresponsive to me, usually dont even reply.

believe me man, if i could "bang 5's or 6's or 4's" id be happy... hell, id accept as a girlfiend some chubby below average (sub5) indian or asian girl, but i cant even get that.

    • 1
Sep 9, 2016

Dude your problems have everything to do with your depression and not your looks. Go see a doctor, therapist, someone to talk to. Also, easier said than done, don't focus on the fact that you haven't done well with the ladies. You seem to be harking in on that and it's leading to a vicious cycle of you projecting out the rest of your life and failure in that arena. Don't focus on your looks, I mean do what you can, lift, haircut, good hygiene, etc. but really 100% confidence is the key and your confidence is being strangled by your depression. You're a smart kid, don't let that go to waste because you're objectively not good looking, thing is women have a much wider range of guys they find attractive. In summary, go see someone about your depression and get your mind out of this vicious cycle of focusing on looks and ladies. There is more to life

Sep 9, 2016

well, i do plan to see a therapist soon.

but i honest to god do think it all stems from looks and speech. like, if u made me a good looking guy tomorrow, i genuinely think all my issues would resolve themselves... feedback loop would change, i could get a gf and have sex, validation, and affection, etc etc etc.

getting a gf and having validation and sex is a huge motvator for men, and when u dont/cant have that and are deprived of it, it takes away a lot of incentive i guess.

ill still try and see if joining a frat can help and maybe join some clubs, but if nothing hchanges, ill have to really go over my options in depth and see what the best course of action is.

Sep 9, 2016

Ok I have to reply to this poast.

I have some idea how you feel. I look in the mirror and I think I am a 7. most girls rate me a 4 or 5.

I have been told to my face that I am legit ugly. like to my face. So I know how it goes.

I am in my late 20s. I am a jr member of a PWM team. Nowhere near as prestigious or lucrative as most of the careers the board here goes on.

Bro, the caliber of women I am pulling now is NOWHERE near the caliber of what I was doing in college. It gets much better over time. And you going to a target and getting a target job living in a major city = multiple options. I spent the majority of my undergrad in the library. I went to parties but I rarely made moves and only got with 3 girls out of 4 years of UG. now, it is much different story. I just went out with a model this week. I sht u not. and im in the Midwest. Can only imagine what is going to be like when I credential up and move to NY/Chi/ATL ...

Do you want to know how I got her. I told her straight up first phone call after getting her number --- "Look X, I am going to be straight with you. I am not cool. I have no swag. I am not the best looking guy out there. If you are looking for a guy like this...I am not it, you way as well hang up the phone right now. I am a nerd who can schmooze. I read books, and I like to do educational things. But the thing is, I am confident. True confidence is not just accepting who you are, its accepting what you are not and being content with it. And I am the definition of confidence. I am alright with who I am, what I am not and if you want to be with a man like that, im your guy."

*She came over 4 hrs later...and didn't leave until 3am ;)

It is ALL about confidence and not letting a girl own your emotions and self worth.

looks do determine a lot in your life. However, it is not everything. Just be careful for those who are looking for beta providers.

If anything, get your target degree and then go to Eastern Europe or South America...

Sep 9, 2016

i appreciate the feedback and personal story, also congrats on things getting better for u bro.

like i said, there are still some more factors i need to know before making any decision, and it will be thought out as im not one to make rash choices, so we will see i guess.

the only thing i dread is ending up as a beta provider, lol. i know some guys who are surgeons and work in finance, do well, lets say range of 200-700k since they fall between that , and have kids wives etc. now , they dont even look that bad, but they spent their whole lives working their asses off accumulating this money and are now supporting their wives who arent in shape and dont really look good, kind of used up tbh. and i sit there kind of chuckling, thinking, fuck..... mr so and so worked so hard to provide for some used up whore who sucked 20 dicks before she met him, but told him it was 5 to match his number, and now wont blow him like she did those other hotter guys, and maybe even cheats, is now old and fat, etc etc.

and i wonder .... school plus work, stress, living in high cost place etc making lets say 500k pre tax providing for a creature like that vs making semi passive 200k pre tax, low cost area, fucking a good looking escort that will do anything u want for a price, twice weekly, for roughly 10k per year. .. i would pick option 2, lol.

plus, "rich" is really being able to do what u want with ur time and being free, so in that sense, 200k passive relaxing in a spa and gym and fucking escorts beats 500k working ur ass off in the city for some ingrate wife.

tldr thanks for responding i liked reading ur post, congrats on ur situation(s), and i agree about the horror of being a beta cuck provider, lol.

Sep 10, 2016

Get in a proper lifting routine and learn how to do skincare/hair/dressing properly. Making yourself more attractive will boost your confidence, success with women and happiness. Everyone treats you better if you look better - just get on a lifting routine and develop your skincare/grooming/dressing game, but don't drop out.

Sep 10, 2016

nah i already do all of that and have been for years.

the issue is my face, the bones and overall features. grew wrong, went from good looking kid to ugly adult and am deformed now.

we'll see if i can find a gf now, if i cant within a reasonable amount of time then ill just be heading to prague , lol. im not gonna bust my ass just to come back to an apartment in new york and be lonely virgin, or perhaps worse, pay for some used up girl who has already fucked 20 guys while she is my first, lol.

better to have passive cashflow and fuck hookers and have gelato with a nice spa in easter europe, then can always make investing full time job by getting aggressive with it with some capital, or start my own business etc.

Sep 9, 2016

I think burn-out also comes in when you finally reach your goal and you still don't feel fulfilled. So you go to college and work hard to get the right internship, then you bust your ass there to get the analyst offer, work hard to move up, etc. etc. Then you finally get to the position you want, you're making a bunch of money, but you look around and start thinking "wtf am I actually doing with my life, and why is that guy with a steady job making $60k a year and going fishing every weekend happier than me?" When you stop having that next goal to work for and you start having to deal with the reality that this is your life for the next xx # of years and its really only about the money, you can run into issues. Obviously I'm dealing with some of that in my own career right now.

Sep 9, 2016

Curious what you're doing to try and deal with the burnout

Best Response
Sep 9, 2016

I've felt burned out several times (both in academia and the professional world). The gym always helps to keep me sane. At a minimum, if you can just find 45-60 minutes for three days a week, you can make some notable progress, both physically and mentally. Some other good advice in this thread as well; I'll leave one of my favorite training quotations here (it's an excerpt from an essay, encourage you to google it if it piques your interest).

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you're a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.

Sep 9, 2016

I'm pretty resilient, but there was one time during winter....oh about two years ago when it was 1 degree like very morning for two weeks (does anyone remember this?). It was awful and I would be in a cab by 6:40am to make it to the office by 7am and this below freezing wind would blow on me while I waited on second avenue- hand out. I truly questioned what the hell I was doing those mornings.

But I got over it when it got 20 degrees warmer.

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

Sep 9, 2016

Oh also it's totally worth it to check your vitamin D levels, often times they are low and can lead to feelings of depression.

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

Sep 11, 2016

Man if you spent as much time talking to women as you spend posting on the internet you wouldve gotten laid by now.

Sep 11, 2016

Health Problems are a real killer. When i first started i had to get minor surgery and then head back to office to work. Was on pain killers while I had to work all weekend, which was really no fun....
My advice is to find some time for an outlet, going back to the gym helped for me as well as getting a change of scenery.

Sep 11, 2016

Go back to the drawing board...

Think about why you are where you are...

Reconnect to that little monkey within and spank a few out on the keyboard for the next guy...

Look at the bright side, if it was all just about the $ better you burn out now then 25 to life later.

Good luck. Sleep it off. Visualize the goals and then shit on everyone and thing that gets in the way.

Including your damn self.

Sep 11, 2016
Sep 11, 2016

You have enough seniority to push to take a week of - do it. If they say no, you're fucked anyway.

Sep 11, 2016

My solution for nearly all problems: take a vacation to Thailand .

Sep 11, 2016

Why do you want to make associate so badly? I'm sure you know it doesn't get any better. Get the fuck out man. Get on the horn with a few headhunters, the experience you have so far definitely makes you marketable to private equity firms and corporate development roles.

That's how banking works - you put in your time as an analyst, you get burnt out, and you jump ship to greener pastures. Why torture yourself? Life is too short.

Sep 11, 2016

two solutions

  1. Take a week or at least 2-3 + a weekend off and go somewhere warm and sunny and drink a few margaritas on the beach (closer than thailand, no need to get stressed traveling).
  2. backup plan: go to a doctor and ask if he'll check you for ADD... they have methods of treating that and helping you stay focused these days
Sep 11, 2016

(the amphetamines thing is more of a joke... that's a temporary solution to a long term problem)

Sep 11, 2016

stay positive.. you made it this far dont pus out. you wanna be a rainmaker or not. if you really want to succeed you have to sacrifice sacrifice sacrifice.

"Those who say don't know, and those who know don't say."

Sep 11, 2016

I hear you man. It can be rough, idk hang tough.

Sep 11, 2016

You have enough seniority to push to take a week of - do it.

Sep 11, 2016

why not business school?

Sep 11, 2016

agree with CaptK... if you don't like it now, why spend more time,doing something you don't like.Doesn't get any better as an assoc. Jump ship

Sep 11, 2016

I would say that you're probably in a fairly common situation. The question is, if you transfer, do you really think you would be happier elsewhere? Obviously the hours, etc. suck but work is work. Not to say that there aren't jobs that you would enjoy but with 3+ years experience you would most likely work in a similar field just a change of scenery which may help but probably only in the short run. Good luck man. Work is called work for a reason though.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Sep 11, 2016

I'm making it up as I go along.