Why we may be measuring burnout all wrong

What Does It Mean To ‘Flourish’? 38,000 People Are Taking This Free Ivy League Course About Scientifically Living Your Best Life

After the year we’ve had, a conversation—or even an internal dialogue—that describes my state of being as “flourishing” feels heavy-handed and (at least personally) rather unrealistic. My jaded mindset is more often likely to scoff at the concept of flourishing. That is until I took a moment to actually think about the word itself.

Flourishing is more than just positive. It’s active. When plants flourish, they have transformed from a seed into something green, leafy, pleasant to look at—living their best life. When businesses flourish, they thrive, are successful, take the input of years of thought and hard work and output the success that could be and made it a reality. What about people? What does it mean and look like for a person to “flourish?” The University of Pennsylvania offers a chance to answer the seemingly nebulous question, and nearly 38,000 people have already enrolled online for free with Coursera…

Why we may be measuring burnout all wrong

On lots of occasions, I’ve told myself – and my friends and colleagues – that I’m experiencing burnout. Making a living as a freelancer can often mean working long hours, and trying to keep a lot of very different plates spinning at once. A few times a year, I hit what feels like a creative wall: I’m fresh out of good ideas, and I just really need to nap. For a long time, I’ve been calling that burnout. But I’ve been wrong.

“People use burnout as a synonym for tired, and they’re missing the point that there’s a world of difference between those two states”

Michael Leiter

We tend to think of burnout as an intangible – one of those things we can’t define, and we just know when we feel it. Right now, more of us may be feeling it than ever. In this stage of the pandemic, after more than a year spent trying to navigate its challenges, the general feeling is that we’ve all hit the wall.

But there is a scientific definition of burnout, and standards by which to measure it. And based on that criteria, a lot of folks who think they’re burnt out – myself included – really aren’t. That doesn’t mean we aren’t on the way there, though, and understanding how to really measure burnout can help individuals and organisations change course before it’s too late…

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