The road to burnout is paved with good intentions. So if you're an idealistic, hardworking, self-motivating achiever with high aspirations and expectations, don't make the mistake of thinking that it can't happen to you.
Indeed, these are admirable traits in our culture. It is unreality that is the villain. Unrealistic job aspirations and expectations are doomed to frustration and failure. The burnout candidate's personality keeps him/her striving with single-minded intensity until s/he crashes.
Burnout proceeds by stages that blend and merge into one another so smoothly and imperceptibly that the victim seldom realizes what happened even after it's over.1. The Honeymoon
During the honeymoon phase, your job is wonderful. You have boundless energy and enthusiasm and all things seem possible. You love the job and the job loves you. You believe it will satisfy all your needs and desires and solve all your problems. You're delighted with your job, your co-workers and the organization.
2. The Awakening
The honeymoon wanes and the awakening stage starts with the realization that your initial expectations were unrealistic. The job isn't working out the way you thought it would. It doesn't satisfy all your needs; your co-workers and the organization are less than perfect; and rewards and recognition are scarce.
As disillusionment and disappointment grow, you become confused. Something is wrong, but you can't quite put your finger on it. Typically, you work even harder to make your dreams come true. But working harder doesn't change anything and you become increasingly tired, bored, and frustrated. You question your competence and ability and start losing your self-confidence.