Why Vacations Don’t Fix Burnout

Question:  Why Did My Vacation Not Alleviate My Burnout?

You save up your money.  You book a much-needed vacation at a luxurious beach resort where attendants pamper you in every way.  You spend two weeks playing in the waves, lying on the beach, and soaking up the rays.  Your only concern is to decide what to eat:  the lobster or the steak or both.  Life couldn’t be more relaxing.

You return home with a glow of optimism, a slight tan, and a seemingly permanent smile on your face.  But the second you step in to the workplace, everything changes.

Your smile turns to a scowl.  Your pleasant disposition turns back to cynicism, and even your suntan seems to fade.  How can two weeks of bliss disappear in one second?  Why is my tank suddenly empty again after a refueling vacation?

Answer:  Because you haven’t dealt with the problem.

Leaders painstakingly try to fix workplace burnout because burnout is costly:  emotionally, physically, and financially.  But burnout is not the problem.  It’s a syndrome, a collection of symptoms.

When we try to treat or manage burnout, we often fall short.  The reason is that we are not dealing with the real problem.

Vacations are to burnout as Tylenol is to pain. 

Tylenol may alleviate the symptom temporarily, but it’s not dealing with the source of the pain.  We have to get to the real problem.  Don’t get me wrong, managing burnout is important and essential (that’s why I wrote a book on it), but it has to be in conjunction with diagnosing the cause of the burnout.


Each one of us is unique.  What is causing you to burnout may be different than others.  Take time to discover the cause of your burnout, and you will be on your way toward contentment.  Then, that memory of the beach, lobster, and steak will sustain you for months, not seconds.


Contentment Key:  Discovering the Cause of burnout moves you closer to Contentment.

Want help getting to the cause of your burnout?  Schedule a 1-on-1 session with Jim.  Want Jim to speak at your event?  Click HERE.

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