Why Job Burnout No Longer Scares Me


Complete and utter job burnout.

It manifests itself in a variety of ways – a profound sense of cynicism at the office, struggling to drag yourself out of bed to start the day, constant inexplicable illnesses, never feeling satisfied with your level of productivity, or major beef with your co-workers.

If you suspect that you've been there, you're not alone.

A recent Time Magazine article shared that four out of five American workers experience burnout in their jobs. Even more troubling, 86% of millennials have admitted to feeling burned out at work.

I'd be lying if I said I haven't reached varying levels of job burnout a few times throughout the duration of my current job, and I am likely there again right now.

What causes work burnout exactly?

The Mayo Clinic cites several contributing factors:

Lack of control.

Unclear job expectations.

Dysfunctional workplace dynamics.

Poor job fit.

Extremes of activity.

Lack of social support.

Work-life imbalance.

It's easy to identify many of these as factors in my current situation and there was a time when it really scared me.

Not unlike many other burned out workers, I fantasized about quitting, taking a few months off to re-evalutate my path, and finding a healthier environment.

But I never really felt like that was an option.

Why? Because that's not what responsible young professionals do. Especially not in the entertainment business.

Plus, I didn't feel like I had the financial wherewithal to support myself during a multi-month re-charge.

I felt ashamed for spending years working long hours with very little to show for it. And the complete lack of control was terrifying.

It's what motived me to finally get my financial house in order, trim the fat from my monthly expenses, and start saving a significant portion of my earnings.

A healthy emergency fund of several months worth of expenses not only protects against an unexpected job loss, but also the need to quit from overwhelming job burnout.

Instead of feeling fear and added stress from job burnout, I now feel armed with options.

The option to carefully plot my next move.

The option to take a few months off and relax, if necessary.

The option to stay and know that it's 100% my choice.

Readers: Have you experienced job burnout? Were you financially prepared to handle it?

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Discussions — 46 Responses

  • E.M. July 17, 2014 on 9:29 am

    That’s a great way to look at it. Knowing that you have options is a great feeling. I’ve definitely experienced job burnout before, multiple times, and it was not fun. It’s one of the reasons I decided to re-evaluate my plans and take my time looking for a job after we moved. I have the means to do so and I’m very thankful for that.

    • Addison Cash E.M. July 21, 2014 on 11:52 am

      That’s awesome that you have that flexibility, E.M. Taking the time to find the right opportunity is smart.

  • eemusings July 17, 2014 on 9:59 am

    I have learned every job has its peaks and troughs and every job will have a burnout phase for me. To get out of that rut I need to try and remember what I do love and reconnect/focus on that, and/or take on a new project.

    • Addison Cash eemusings July 21, 2014 on 11:53 am

      Great advice! You are totally right that every job will have its ups and downs. It’s great to be able to shift your attitude like that.

  • Kipp July 17, 2014 on 11:42 am

    I can understand the work burnout, and I think all jobs have some of the outlining causes you listed. But I think a job that provides at least some variety of tasks can help reduce burnout, but if I came in and did the same task every day maybe I would feel different.

    • Addison Cash Kipp July 21, 2014 on 11:54 am

      Agreed, Kip. I would have a hard time with a job like that, as well.

  • Dear Dividend July 17, 2014 on 1:33 pm

    Everyone is different but one thing I’ve learned about job burnout and finding a new job is to beware of the “greener grass” effect. Sometimes changing jobs will improve a person’s situation but other times one might be better off trying to work through the rut and stick it out. There is no easy answer on this one and it is ultimately each individual’s personal decision.

    Dear Dividend

    • Addison Cash Dear Dividend July 21, 2014 on 11:57 am

      Thanks for sharing this perspective, Dear Dividend. You’re completely right. It’s important to remind yourselves that most people aren’t projecting a realistic version of their lives or careers into the world, especially via social media!

  • Holly@ClubThrifty July 17, 2014 on 1:57 pm

    I think job burnout is normal. I work for myself and still get burnt out all the time. It’s important to take a break and take time for yourself when you need it. However, sometimes that can be easier said than done.

    • Addison Cash Holly@ClubThrifty July 21, 2014 on 11:58 am

      Great point, Holly. Regular breaks and vacations are important, and admittedly, I haven’t always been the best at making sure that I take this time for myself.

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach July 17, 2014 on 2:23 pm

    Nie reframing! I can totally relate to everything you wrote. Even though I’m a freelancer, I have one main client who pushes every button known to man. But I realized recently that I was letting that happen to me. I was letting him control how I feel. LIke you, at one point it motivated me to really think about my finances so that it took one stressful thing away. I still work with this client, but I’m finding better coping mechanisms while I still “choose” to work with him. I think just one tiny mental shift can make things so much more tolerable.

    • Addison Cash Tonya@Budget and the Beach July 21, 2014 on 11:59 am

      It’s great that you’ve been able to make the change in your attitude, Tonya. It certainly makes dealing with a particularly difficult client easier!

  • Broke Millennial July 17, 2014 on 3:25 pm

    I had horrific burnout with my old job. While I love my new job and don’t feel burned out, I do get that feeling from my blog or freelance tasks from time-to-time. It’s great to hear you’re setting yourself up for the ability to quit a job or be protected if you are suddenly unemployed.

    • Addison Cash Broke Millennial July 21, 2014 on 12:01 pm

      I’m glad that your new job is going so well, Erin! It’s hard to balance so many things. Financial stability definitely makes it all feel more manageable.

  • Ryan @ Impersonal Finance July 17, 2014 on 10:35 pm

    With the incredible amount of travel you have to do for your job, I think the burnout is natural, and maybe just a sign that a change is in order. I get burned out in my job, and I think sometimes its natural, but sometimes it’s indicative of something more. Like you said at lunch, that’s why we work so hard at controlling our money, so we can control our lives, right? 🙂

    • Addison Cash Ryan @ Impersonal Finance July 21, 2014 on 12:02 pm

      Absolutely, Ryan! I’ve learned that change is hard for me, but it can be exciting as new doors begin opening.

  • Roadmap2Retire July 18, 2014 on 2:41 am

    Ive felt that in the past as well, but never thought I could afford to take that long a break. I am working on building my passive income and multiple income stream and hopefully once I am financially independent, I will be able to take a decision for longer breaks if and when I want it.

    Best wishes

    • Addison Cash Roadmap2Retire July 21, 2014 on 12:03 pm

      That’s awesome, R2R. That’s definitely a big motivation for me to continue building passive income streams, as well. Slow and steady, right?

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  • debt debs July 18, 2014 on 12:37 pm

    I think I’m going through a bit of burnout now too. I’m at least controlling my working hours better now. If it doesn’t get done it doesn’t get done. I just prioritize and keep moving, but it’s tough when you’re a bit of a perfectionist. Hope you’re feeling better about your situation now too, with the changes you’ve made.

    • Addison Cash debt debs July 21, 2014 on 12:06 pm

      I can relate to that! It’s great that you’re finding more of a balance with work. Trying to do too much too fast almost always results in burnout for me.

  • Dividend Diplomats July 19, 2014 on 12:35 pm


    Great article – being in public accounting this happens too often. Luckily, I do happen to save 40-50%+ of my income, have invested and have a nice nest egg, but for some reason I still feel the constant disappointment with our staff in my office. Great read, I appreciate you posting this.


    • Addison Cash Dividend Diplomats July 21, 2014 on 12:07 pm

      Thanks for commenting, Lanny. I have a few friends who work in accounting and I’ve heard how stressful the job can be, especially during certain times of the year. That’s fantastic that you’re saving 40-50% of your income! Your future self will thank you!

  • The Weekend Reading – July 19, 2014 | Dividend Diplomats July 19, 2014 on 1:19 pm

    […] Cashville talks about work/employment Burnout and how saving, planning and having options can reduce your stress.  Being in public accounting – the dynamic is non-stop and the last 9 days I have worked until 1 am twice.  I find at the place I work – the dynamic of our office is quite interesting and we don’t have the most highly motivated individuals, thus the burden of work projects gets tossed back up stream because the reliability isn’t there.  Suffering from work burnout is bad.  Great read. […]

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods July 19, 2014 on 3:38 pm

    This is a great way to approach it. Vastly wiser to bide one’s time, save, and plot in order to make the most reasoned next step. It’s so tempting to just storm out and quit (for me anyway), but I agree with you that planning and timing are key. No sense in prematurely burning a bridge at a job!

    • Addison Cash Mrs. Frugalwoods July 21, 2014 on 12:10 pm

      Absolutely, Mrs. Frugalwoods. It’s tempting to give up, but I’ve realized that those feelings of desperation will pass and the more practical, wiser self will creep in if you stop and take a deep breath before making any rash decisions.

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life July 19, 2014 on 5:48 pm

    Theatre gigs are generally short term so I haven’t had too much of an issue with burnout. But I did a show last Christmas where we would have as many as 4 shows in one day and 9 show weekends. I would DREAD having to put my costume back on. By the end of the day I was wiped.

    • Addison Cash Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life July 21, 2014 on 12:11 pm

      Wow, that sounds intense! At least that was a temporary gig.

  • Weekend Reading – July 20, 2014 July 20, 2014 on 5:57 am

    […] Why Job Burnout No Longer Scares Me This was a good reminder on how freeing living below your means and building up some capital can be. I had the same experience about two years into my journey once the dividend income started to become fairly serious and the portfolio’s value had climbed to a fairly respectable level. I felt almost invincible. The worries of what would happen if I were to be fired melted away, and so did the burnout. I knew I was working there because I wanted to be there (to keep building the portfolio) not because I had to be there (because I couldn’t pay rent otherwise). Of course, the burnout eventually did happen anyway, but simply because I found activities in life (namely, this blog) that I wanted to work on instead, not because of worry. […]

  • Asset-Grinder July 20, 2014 on 7:52 pm

    When I was a child I was a roofer since age 11 ish. I was burnt out on day 1 lol. I would have to wake up at 5am and I never fully woke up until like 8am while I was on top of a hot roof, talk about dangerous!

    • Addison Cash Asset-Grinder July 21, 2014 on 12:12 pm

      Wow, that sounds like an extremely challenging job for an 11 year old! I don’t blame you for getting burnt out so quickly.

  • Zee @ Work-To-Not-Work July 21, 2014 on 3:12 am

    I’ve been burnt out before, it was basically being over worked and under appreciated. I had the savings to leave, but I didn’t feel it was the responsible thing to do at the time. I was unemployed for about a year at one point in my life which was one of the nicest times yet one of the scariest times when it got closer to the end of it. Being out of work for so long makes you question what you will do when you have to start accounting for that time when talking to potential employers. Luckily(?) it was during the recession so being unemployed wasn’t the most uncommon thing at the time.

    Strangely though, I’m less scared of burnout now then ever. I have quite a large cushion again and probably a better outlook on life now then I did back then. But for me it’s more about the responsibility of not having anything coming in which is the reason I might still stick with a job while feeling burnt out. I just hope I don’t come to that, if anything I think it’s easier for me to find a new job too.

  • Addison Cash July 21, 2014 on 12:04 pm

    That’s tough, Danielle. I’ve experienced those ups and downs, as well. They definitely make finding a life/work balance a challenge.

  • Addison Cash July 21, 2014 on 12:14 pm

    That’s fantastic that you have a large cushion, Zee. It definitely makes sticking around easier.

  • Brock @CleverDude July 21, 2014 on 12:28 pm

    I experience job burnout from time to time….but it’s always temporary. Once the situation as passed (project complete, problem solved, etc), I just cut back for a little bit, make sure I spend some extra time relaxing and then I’m all good again. 🙂

    • Addison Cash Brock @CleverDude July 21, 2014 on 1:04 pm

      Great strategy, Brock. Cutting back a bit after a particularly stressful project definitely helps!

  • Natalie @ Financegirl July 21, 2014 on 1:46 pm

    When I get burned out, it’s usually a “life burnout” more than anything. I have too much going on at once and I need to give myself a break. My finances aren’t usually impacted, but if I don’t take time to relax and get extra sleep, I get stressed, which is not fun!

    • Addison Cash Natalie @ Financegirl July 22, 2014 on 12:33 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Natalie! Life burnout is a very real concern, as well.

  • Melanie@Dear Debt July 23, 2014 on 3:59 am

    I have definitely felt burnout but mostly because I side hustle. Sometimes I think it would be much easier to just go to a 9-5 and then come home. But I don’t do that — I continue working! I like that you are inspired to be financially healthy from this!

    • Addison Cash Melanie@Dear Debt July 23, 2014 on 11:14 am

      Thanks for commenting, Melanie. Working significantly more than 40 hours per week can definitely lead to burnout.

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    […] Cashville talks about work/employment Burnout and how saving, planning and having options can reduce your stress.  Being in public accounting – the dynamic is non-stop and the last 9 days I have worked until 1 am twice.  I find at the place I work – the dynamic of our office is quite interesting and we don’t have the most highly motivated individuals, thus the burden of work projects gets tossed back up stream because the reliability isn’t there.  Suffering from work burnout is bad.  Great read. […]

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