Most people think that burnout is only a condition for the over ambitious, type A personalities who go at such a tremendous pace that their body and mind just can’t keep up. I also think that there is a different type of burnout that is quickly becoming a lot more common. Feeling burnout can also occur when you don’t have any ambition. I call it Adult Onset ADD or Ambition Deficit Disorder…
As most people were leaving for home, two people were hunched over in earnest conversation in a corner office. Therese had her head in her hands sobbing hysterically. Her work colleague helplessly draped her arm over her friend, occasionally rubbing her back in the hope that it would make a difference but Therese was at her wits end.
“I’ve had enough,” confessed Therese as she sat up, wiped her eyes and blew her nose. “I can’t handle this pressure and this pace anymore. I can’t continue like this. I have no time for me to do what I want.”
“Well what exactly do you want?” asked her friend.
“Oh, I don’t know what I want, but I know that it’s not this,” Therese exclaimed.
This phrase, so eloquently captured in the title of Julie Jansen’s best selling book also sums up a growing trend among workers that often culminates in burnout. A recent survey of 7600 American workers by Career Builders found that 78 % reported feeling burnt out.
According to Webster’s dictionary, ambition means the desire for activity or exertion or to achieve a particular end. I define ambition as being able to answer these two questions:
- What do you want?
- Are you doing what you enjoy?
If your answer to question #1 is, “I don’t know” and your answer to question #2 is, “No,” then you are at risk of Ambition Deficit Disorder.
So many people with Ambition Deficit Disorder think that they are lethargic and depressed because they don’t know what to do.
I also think that the opposite is true: you don’t know what to do because you are lethargic and depressed. Or should I more accurately say: because you are doing lethargy and depression. The truth is that as long as we wait to know what to do we’ll never know. For most people getting clarity about your life’s purpose doesn’t occur as a lightning bolt or a booming voice from the heavens. You need to go out and find clarity.
The most common reason why people don’t have a particular ambition or purpose in life is that they haven’t devoted enough time to thinking about it.
Spend some time each day to think about your ambition. Even if you think that you are clear on your life’s purpose, a daily reminder will give you added spark to your day. Try using your time when you are having a shower or getting ready for your day as time to focus on your ambition or purpose.