If You're A High Achiever Who Often Thinks These 4 Things, You're Not Broken — You're Burned Out

No, you're not broken. You're just pushing yourself way too hard.

woman suffering from four thoughts that indicate burnout Cecilie_Arcurs / Getty Images Signature / Canva Pro

It's one of the most frustrating paradoxes among people who are really good at what they do—the more successful you are, the more exhausted you tend to be.

A career coach on TikTok said talented people often blame themselves, assuming their exhaustion and unhappiness are character flaws. But the problem is actually much simpler.

She identified 4 thoughts that indicate burnout, and high achievers almost always struggle with them.

Burnout is reaching epidemic proportions among American workers. A survey by consulting firm Deloitte found that a staggering 77% of workers say they've experienced burnout in their current jobs, and it's even worse for women, who suffer at much higher rates.


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Chris, known as @empoweredachievers on TikTok, which is also the name of her company, works with high achievers who need help getting out of the pattern of taking on way too much for others and not leaving enough space for themselves.


In her work, she's identified four common thoughts high achievers often confuse for personal shortcomings that are actually signs you're putting too much pressure on yourself. 

1. Being envious of layoffs

That may sound… well, kind of sociopathic, but if you're working yourself to the bone, a job loss can look an awful lot like a forcible paid vacation.

"I've actually heard this one kind of a lot," Chris said. "I've had clients say they were jealous of their workers who got laid off, which they then feel guilty about almost as if it's survivor's guilt."

She's also had clients on the other side of the issue — getting laid off themselves and then thanking the heavens they're finally free. "This happens in my experience because so many high achievers push through and push through and push through until they get to this place where it feels like the only option is to eject," Chris explained.


2. 'I wish I could just care less about my career'

"I still remember this one consult call where this girl cried and said this to me," Chris said. "'I wish I could just care less; I want to be someone who doesn't care about my career. It's almost debilitating how much I care.'"

She said she's heard this over and over again from high achievers. The key here, she said, is "decentering your career" and "building tolerance to doing less." Essentially, setting boundaries with your job.

Chris said this can be incredibly hard at first, but if you give yourself space to get the hang of it, "it is going to be so beneficial for you in the long run."


RELATED: Burnout Coach Shares 6 Ways To Set Boundaries At Work Without Saying Anything At All

3. Feeling you have to work ten times harder than everyone else to prove yourself — aka, imposter syndrome.

Chris recalled a client who was struggling with setting boundaries, and she finally asked her to name the benefit of overworking. Why was she doing this?

"She eventually admitted… that she felt some level of imposter syndrome in a role, so as a result of said imposter syndrome, she felt like she had to work ten times harder than everyone else to prove herself."

@empoweredachievers Replying to @Aurora #greenscreen I hope this list makes you feel less alone! Truly, all those deepest darkest fears from this pressure… you’re not the only one thinking it ❤️ #impostersyndrome #recoveringperfectionist #workaholic #boundaries #corporateburnout #lifecoach #mindsetcoach #underpressure ♬ original sound - Chris, the high achiever coach

She said this struggle is ultimately about acceptance and tolerating discomfort. "You have to… build tolerance to things like the fact that no matter how hard we work, you can't ensure we never get fired," Chris said. 


"You can't ensure that people never judge us. We can't control other people's opinions on us." It took her client some time, but she got there, and now she's thriving.

4. 'It's easier if I just stay at this job'

Chris said people like this often rationalize, "I know I don't like it, but really technically, on paper, it's good, and maybe there's nothing I'd like more."

She said she hears this one all the time. "So many high achievers are scared… They stay, and they settle under the guise of better the devil I know."

@empoweredachievers Replying to @mben210 also, I think part of it is the shift in expectations so we start decentering our careers. Were looking for engagment & following your interests, not “the magical answer for purpose”.  Can anyone relate to this one? Who wants pt 5?#findyourpurpose #career #recoveringperfectionist #goldenchild #lifecoach #highachiever #underpressure #overachiever ♬ original sound - Chris, the high achiever coach

She said this fear is often rooted in another fear — that searching for a job or career they might like better will lead them to realize "the answer is there's nothing." This keeps them rooted in "something that tears them apart each day."


However, in seven years of doing this work, she has yet to meet a single person for whom that is true. "Yeah, it can feel like we have no spark, but it doesn't mean that we actually have no spark. We're just super out of touch with it," she said.

She finished with something we would all do well to consider. "Don't you owe it to yourself to at least explore and start prioritizing what you want over sacrifices?" she asked. "I think you do."

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.