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Are You Burnt Out? 5 Signs You Might Be at the End of Your Rope

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on May 08, 2015 3:59 AM

Staying late, working weekends, worrying over your performance -- all of this can quickly lead to burnout. For lawyers, burnout is so common that there are whole industries devoted to helping us quit the profession.

But how can you be sure you're actually burning out like a cheap light bulb and not just going through a bad patch? Here are five signs you may be at the end of your rope:

1. Exhaustion

Even if you are able to get that rare full night's sleep, you still feel exhausted. And it's not just physical -- mental and emotional exhaustion are also signs of burnout. When you're expending more energy than you can replace, you'll soon find yourself burnt out.

2. Sheer Hatred, Cynicism, Frustration

Does the sight of your office fill you with such hatred that you feel flames, flames on the side of your face? Can a new assignment from a partner leave you cursing under your breath? These sorts of negative, disproportionate feelings are a good indication that you might be more than just jaded.

3. Increasingly Poor Work Product

You don't go into the office one day fresh and full of life and wake up burnt out and exhausted the next. It takes time to reach your limits, which often shows in your work. If you notice the quality of your work product dipping, it could be a sign that you've worked yourself too hard for too long.

4. Never Getting Away

Thinking about that deposition in the shower? Worrying about a case on your vacation? Can't keep up a conversation with your friends because you're too preoccupied with work? Not being able to leave the office behind is a strong evidence that you're overwhelmed.

5. Letting Your Health and Relationships Go

It's easy to let the stress and frustration that come with burnout eclipse our health and our relationships. Burnt out lawyers may give up on exercise after years of being fitness freaks, or start drinking much more than they ever did before. Some may abuse drugs like Adderall in order to push through their workload. These all take a toll on your health -- as does stress and exhaustion generally.

It's not just your body that may be in bad shape. Burnout can impact your personal life. If your relationships are starting to falter or you find yourself snipping at friends and family, if you ever have time to see them -- well, it's likely that you're suffering from career burnout.

If you recognize these signs in yourself, it's not the end of the world. After all, there are ways to come back from burnout -- and there are always other careers out there.

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