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Is burnout the same for everyone?

Nope. Burnout is far from one size fits all. In fact, someone asked me the other day, can you really quantify burnout? The answer is yes and no.

Yes, because there are measures like the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (which we use in our data analysis).

Yes, because there are specific signs that a person may be burned out. Typical things to look for.

No, because in many ways burnout is completely different from one person to the next. One of the amazing things I’ve learned about entrepreneurship is that deep pursuit of a business idea may feel like burnout to one person. To another, it may feel like finally living and breathing.

So, just because someone works a lot does not inevitably mean that they are or will be burned out.

Before we go any further, let’s define burnout. WebMD defines it as such, “Burnout is a form of exhaustion caused by constantly feeling swamped. It’s a result of excessive and prolonged emotional, physical, and mental stress. In many cases, burnout is related to one’s job.” So there are two important things to note: 1. Burnout is an individual experience and 2. It is caused by stress. Because stress varies from person to person, it is difficult to know exactly when a person will burnout.

At spark, our Northstar is to co-create a world where burnout is an exception, not the norm. Why have we decided to pursue this mission? Today I’ll share one reason.

Through hustle culture, perfectionism, and other factors, our country and culture have an obsession with work. The term “bringing home the bacon” is (yes gendered) and prideful. We celebrate accomplishments in the form of titles, degrees, money, and things. To get those them, we have to grind. And grinding can lead to burnout.

I remember at the beginning of the pandemic when people were forced to pause and reflect on the way they had been living their lives. A lot of people had a tough time slowing down. Myself included. In some ways, I never fully stopped as when COVID-19 began; I started this business. What I learned in those early moments, however, was the true value of stillness. A tool in the interruption of burnout.

Yet, there were multiple professions that were not allowed the opportunity to slow down: educators and health care workers were the ones we think of most at this time. Yet still, other professions continued to grind blurring the boundaries of work and life so much that work became life.

Burnout is all around us. Celebrated and rewarded. And it’s hurting our minds, bodies, and loved ones (I’ll dive into the ways burnout effects us in a later blog post). And, it is possible to interrupt it as an individual and for a system.

At spark, we will be working to co-create a world where burnout is the exception. In April, we’ll share a little more about what that might look like. And we can’t WAIT.

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