Connie felt exhausted. She arrived at work only an hour ago, but already her shoulders felt tight, her back ached, and her forehead was tightening. As she read through the documents on her screen, every line seemed to lose focus. She constantly had to reread sections because she couldn’t remember for even a few minutes.</P
Connie works as a lawyer for a large law practice in the city. It employs hundreds of lawyers and is well known across the country. Connie had been thrilled to land a job with this company. Even her mother had heard of this company’s reputation. She was excited for the opportunity to work on exciting cases that dealt with major financial transactions, real estate deals, and corporate mergers.
That was a year ago. She thought she was entering a professional role that would permit her to apply her education to interesting problems. She would work with powerful, intelligent, articulate colleagues who would mentor her. She would provide services to sophisticated clients who would appreciate her expertise. This was today. She spent most of the past year alone in an office going through a endless supply of mind-deadening emails. They had been written by employees of a business that her company was suing. Connie’s job was to read each of these very dull messages carefully, looking for any sign that employees knew they were doing something wrong. Although Connie knew she was well paid, she could not imagine continuing with this work. Every day she cared less about her work and felt less confident in her future in the legal profession.
Connie was experiencing burnout.
Burnout is more than being tired, but that is certainly part of it. Burnout combines chronic exhaustion with a cynical attitude towards work and a lack of confidence. Exhaustion is a lot more than being tired once in a while. Everyone gets tired. When feeling tired after a hard day at work, George may say, “I feel burned out.” That feeling is not exactly burnout, although George is certainly out of energy.