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However, all the surveys and instruments to measure burnout seem
less likely to spot it than carefully listening to workers talk about their
depressed feelings toward their jobs and observing their behavior, their
productivity, and the many signs of burnout mentioned earlier in the
chapter. Careful observation and honest discussions could lead to changes
in work assignments, strategic timeouts from work, or retraining for new
assignments. All of these as well as personal counseling would help to
reduce the number of cases in which burnout enters a final stage in which
the worker is completely burned up.
Personal Observation: A Worker Confronts the Realization
That Her Burnout Stems From an Incorrect Career Choice
Lynn Packer, a former Marriage and Family Counselor from Thousand
Oaks, California told us, “I knew I wasn't suited for a career as a thera-
pist. I'd sit listening to people complain about their problems at work and
at home and I'd get up in the morning grumbling that I didn't want to
go to work, arrive late, and leave early. I was one step away from an exit
“I finally had to admit that I was the problem, not the clients who
were pouring their hearts out to me. I was a proponent of 'just do it' ther-
apy long before Nike entered the picture. I couldn't understand why any-
one who was so unhappy in their lives just didn't change it. Finally, I took
my own advice and left. I planned my exit. It took over a year before I left
and I made sure not to burn any bridges. I applied to law school, got
accepted, and I was off to the races. Now, no more waking up to 'I don't
want to go to work.' Now it's 'did I malpractice yesterday?' but I'm far
happier and more successful at work. I think my early life ideas about a
career were influenced by my own personal problems and a belief that
helping others would be a way of helping myself. I didn't realize that once
I dealt with those problems, that counseling would bore me”.
“I'm glad I didn't wait around and become cynical and pessimistic
like a lot of people I know who stick with a career way longer than they
should. And I have to admit that my training and experience as a coun-
selor have taught me a great deal about human behavior that comes in
very handy as a lawyer, so I don't feel that I wasted my time getting my
degree. I do think that you shouldn't always blame organizations for
burnout but you should recognize that people come to jobs with their
own issues and that before the next job or the job after that also ends in
burnout, you have to be honest with yourself, get the necessary help and
change whatever past ways of thinking about work continue to end in
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