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5 Effective Ways to Avoid Burnout for a Successful Career Journey

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Published by Vaishnavi Desai on 15 February 2024
Reviewed & Edited by Dr. Nandkishore Rathi

Learn to recognize signs of career burnout early and employ evidence-based strategies around rigorous boundaries, a manageable workload, self-care, supportive relationships, and a growth mindset to continue thriving.

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In today’s demanding work culture, burnout has become an increasingly common experience for professionals.

The always-on technology, looming deadlines, competitive workplaces, and pressure to perform can take a heavy toll over time. Without proper boundaries and self-care, burnout can quickly set in — leading to exhaustion, cynicism, plummeting productivity and engagement.

According to a recent Gallup study surveying nearly 7500 full-time employees, 23% reported feeling burnt out at work very often or always. The issue of employee burnout has long been a ‘burning’ issue for C-suite executives and founders, but with an increasing number of Gen-Z employees working for companies, employers are now placing a greater emphasis on preventing burnout.

However, there are effective strategies you can employ to avoid descending this path. By cultivating sustainable practices and habits early on, you can set yourself up for long-term Career Success and fulfilment.

In this article, we first define burnout and understand its causes and signs. We then outline 5 evidence-based ways you can proactively avoid burnout and continue thriving in your chosen profession.

Understanding Burnout and Its Signs

Burnout refers to a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive work-related stress. Rather than being a sudden onset condition, it gradually develops over time as a result of the inability to cope with unrelenting stressors.

According to the Maslach’s theory of Burnout , the three key dimensions of burnout are:

Exhaustion Feeling constantly drained and lacking energy
Cynicism Losing enthusiasm for your work and feeling detached
Inefficacy Doubting your abilities and feeling unproductive

Other common signs of burnout also include:

  • Chronic fatigue and insomnia
  • Withdrawing from social activities
  • Increased irritability and negative attitude
  • Declining job performance (efforts and outcomes)
  • Difficulty concentrating or impaired decision-making
  • Neglecting responsibilities and self-care
  • A constant state of worry, anxiety, and frustration

What Causes Burnout?

There are a variety of organizational and personal factors that can lead professionals down the path of burnout that prevent them from embarking on a Successful Career Journey:

  • Unsustainable workload and unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of autonomy and decision-making authority
  • Toxic workplace culture and inadequate support system
  • Poor work-life balance and boundary issues
  • Excessive pressure to overachieve goals
  • Job insecurity and uncertainty about the future
  • Unhealthy coping mechanisms and lifestyle choices

While some factors fall outside your control, you can still take positive, proactive steps to avoid burnout.

5 Effective Ways to Avoid Burnout

Here are 5 essential, evidence-based strategies you can employ right away to prevent burnout and continue thriving in your career:

  • Set Manageable Goals and Expectations

    Setting impossible standards for yourself is a recipe for failure and frustration. Be realistic about what you can achieve sustainably. Outline your priorities, limit your workload, and set boundaries around work hours. Say no to non-essential tasks if you already have a packed schedule. Permit yourself to be human!

    Celebrate small daily wins — log them, share them, announce them — and evaluate yourself based on effort rather than just results. Big, audacious goals are motivating but break them down into smaller milestones. Review progress periodically and reset goals as needed. Managing expectations is key to sustainable achievement.

  • Take Breaks and Practice Self-care

    You can’t pour from an empty cup! Carve out time for self-care whether it is getting a good night's rest, enjoying a hobby, meditating or going for a short walk outdoors. Schedule breaks between tasks, take your vacation days and spend time doing non-work related activities.

    Don’t overlook your emotional and social needs either. Nurture personal relationships and seek professional help if you have symptoms of depression or anxiety. Making self-care a priority will give you the energy to perform at your highest level. You owe it to yourself and your career.

  • Set Healthy Boundaries

    Establish work-life boundaries and stick to them. Being constantly available encourages more asks which inevitably leads to overcommitting your time. Disable work notifications outside office hours. Have a set cutoff time for emails. Block off time for family or self-care activities.

    If meetings run over schedule, politely excuse yourself. Say no to non-critical assignments if your plate is full. Save menial tasks for low-energy moments. The more you take on, the higher your stress levels will be. Protect your time and well-being.

  • Reframe Your Internal Dialogue

    Imposter syndrome and excessive self-criticism can exacerbate burnout over time. Notice negative self-talk and reframe it so you are kinder to yourself. Give yourself credit for your capabilities and wins rather than feeling like a fraud. Perfection is unattainable — progress over perfection!

    See failures as feedback rather than feeling defeated. Ask yourself “What can I learn here?” rather than “What is wrong with me?”. Read inspirational quotes when you feel discouraged. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in you. Your internal dialogue has a huge impact on resilience.

  • Cultivate Meaningful Professional Relationships

    Having mentors makes a huge difference in avoiding isolation and loneliness at work. Seek advice from those ahead of you on the career ladder. Venting frustration to colleagues going through similar struggles fosters comradery.

    Develop reciprocal mentoring relationships — guide more junior professionals as you gain seniority, as they definitely need it. Feeling part of a professional community supports wellness and development. Ask about sponsoring programs or peer support groups within your organization. Invest time proactively building your network.

SMC Expert Tip:

While self-care strategies strengthen resilience, it is equally vital to seek external support during difficult times. Consider connecting with a Career Counsellor, therapist or professional coach when you feel emotionally overwhelmed. Counsellors can help you identify the root cause of your burnout — maybe it’s just the job environment, or maybe it’s the wrong career — they can guide you well and set you up for a successful career.

By proactively developing these habits, you equip yourself to handle workplace stressors healthily. With disciplined priority-setting, boundaries and self-care, you can sustain peak performance without burning out.


Burnout often stems from a mismatch between our nature and nurture – our inner expectations and outer work environment. The occasional stress symptoms are expected, but persistent distress signals something is fundamentally lacking.

Recognize these signs early. Alongside thoughtful organizational changes, dedicate consistent effort towards healthy personal habits. Channel energy into things that further your physical, emotional and mental well-being. As Michael Gungor rightly said, “Burnout is what happens when you try to avoid being human for too long.” – remember to prioritize yourself and your well-being over succumbing to workplace burnout.

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