The Thin Line Between Hard Work and Burnout

graphic design of a woman in front of her laptop with a tired expression. In the background it reads anxiety, work, stress

How does one measure success? We surely all have different ideas about what being successful means, but wouldn't you agree that in this day and age, we're bombarded with the idea that money and a career equal success?


Not long ago, gymnast Simon Biles made headlines when she announced that she was retiring from the Olympics; this got many people talking about how she could have given up on something after working so hard for it, but it also opened a discussion on why it’s essential to know when to quit something for your own sake.

We’re often told that working hard should be a priority, and this thought is heavily perpetuated in Latino households, and with good reason. Immigrants and children of immigrants often have to overcome more obstacles than their white counterparts to achieve their goals, and many are trying to break generational economic instability to create a better future for themselves moving forward.

The burden of seeking security and safety in a system not built for feels daunting, but no matter what the circumstances are, if you don't put yourself as a priority in your life, nothing you achieve will ever be fulfilling because your mental and even physical health will always suffer from it. And what is the point of achieving success if you can't enjoy it?

Knowing when to leave something behind for your own good is just as important as achieving goals. As backward as it sounds, sometimes growth comes from knowing when to quit and when to change paths. So if you think you might be reaching a breaking point, here are some signs that you've burned yourself out, and that it’s time to take care of yourself:



Your Body is Telling You

woman resting on a bed with gray t-shirt

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Mental exhaustion can often manifest as physical exhaustion. Stress-related illnesses are way more common than they should be, and signs that you've exhausted yourself can be anything from headaches to insomnia. So listen to yourself and rest.

You've Lost Passion for your Work

woman sitting on sofa with MacBook Air


Photo by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash

Not everyone has the privilege of having a job related to their passions, but burnout can be even easier to detect for those who do. When something that you were passionate about before becomes a tedious task that you almost have to force yourself to complete, it's probably time to move on. And this doesn't mean quitting your passion forever; sometimes you just need a break or a change of scenery, but whatever it is you need, forcing yourself to do something you don't want to will only make you resent it.

Your Work-Life Balance is Becoming Non-Existent

woman in black long sleeve shirt using macbook


Photo by Magnet.me on Unsplash

A job shouldn't be your whole life; it should only be a part of it. If you find yourself completely consumed by your work, to the point where your personal life is affected, there's something wrong. Burnout is unavoidable without a work-life balance and is essential to a healthy work environment. You should always be able to spend time with friends and family or simply do whatever you want in your free time, which is genuinely free.

You Feel Undervalued or Unfulfilled

woman stands on sidewalk with back to the camera wearing a black hooded coat and purse hanging on right shoulderPhoto by Pavel Neznanov on Unsplash

If you often ask yourself, what am I even doing this for? And if you can't find an answer, it's probably time to reconsider your goals. Working hard will get you nowhere if you've lost sense of what your end goal is, and the thing is, it is normal for our end goals to change constantly. Just because you desperately wanted something before doesn't mean you can't change your mind. Once that mindset shift happens, we often try to convince ourselves to just power through it and keep going, but we could also use those feelings to ask ourselves, is this really what I want to be doing? Furthermore, you might feel like it isn't you that's the problem, but how those around you perceive your work, being upset because you feel undervalued, is perfectly reasonable and also calls for a goal realignment.

You're Not Yourself Anymore

woman wearing black sleeveless top


Photo by Caique Nascimento on Unsplash

And living your best life is what you deserve. If the path to your goals has become a burden instead of a hard road, losing track of who you are and what you want to achieve is easy. But at the end of the day, your life is yours only, and if you don't make yourself a priority, who will?


So yes, hard work might be important, but it'll never be more important than your mental health, stability, and personal life. For more on how to take care of yourself, please visit our mental health and resources guide, and remember you are never alone.

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