People who burn out face four potential futures.
This is what we heard in our interviews with people who burned out. Some found the experience so harrowing that after it was over, they struggled to recover. They experienced a form of Post-Traumatic Stress that lingered on. Others, took time off and recovered somewhat. But they never quite got back to where they were before. They survived the experience but were impaired by it. The majority of people eventually bounced back to where they were before. They resumed their old duties, in the same manner, with the same mindset. It was a victory of sorts. They'd been knocked over and gotten back to their feet. They were resilient. Yet they hadn't changed. They were still susceptible to the same combination of external and internal patterns which burned them out in the first place. They might be OK in future….. but they might not. There was a final group in the research. These people were not resilient. They didn’t bounce back to where they were before. They bounced forward. They used the experience, awful as it was, to grow. They deeply examined what happened to them and why. They spoke with coaches or councillors who had valuable insights on their experience. They tried new things – creating boundaries, saying no, prioritising self. And they explored – what are my values? What sort of workplace do I want to be part of? Where can I find that? It took time. Important things do. But it was worth it. Because when they emerged from the experience, they were no longer the same person who had burned out in the first place. When the old pressures and demands came again, they knew what to do this time. They were a bigger, better version of their old self. Now they could perform at a high level – for years – without the risk of burning out. They didn’t get Post Traumatic Stress. They experienced Post Traumatic Growth. Thanks to our research team on the Perform/Grow/ Thrive Project for uncovering these insights and more to come: Ryan Bricker Mitchell Stallard, Michael Campbell Lisa Mackay Meera Craston, Iain Cleland, Dr Cherrie Daley Matt Bartlett-Bond MSc GMBPsS, Karrie Wainscott, Melissa Crawford Muirhead, Ruth Prendergast Simone Falkenstein