13/04/2015 08:36 BST | Updated 09/06/2015 06:59 BST

Burning Out on Under Performing (aka 'Flatlining')

Co-authored by Dr Bev McLagan (The Burnout Queens). UK's leading coaches for women and burnout.


Most people believe that burnout is only a result of over-achieving, over-extending, and over-doing. But do you know that you can burnout from under-performing? It's true, not working at your potential, or at least working toward your potential, eventually leads to a loss of passion as your dreams and goals drift further from you.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, creates burnout faster and more intensely than losing your passion.

How would you know if you are burning-out on under-performing, or as we prefer to call it...flatlining?

Well, you would most definitely feel a loss of enthusiasm and motivation. You may feel curiously disengaged, detached, or disconnected from your work or the part of your life that you believe you are not achieving in. It is a sure bet that you will not feel creative. You may feel trapped and stuck and yet unable to see any way out.

Burnout from under-performing leads to a loss of energy, interest, and enthusiasm. It can also cause anxiety, stress, negativity, and at times, even depression. Physically you may feel lethargic, even exhausted, you may experience symptoms such as headaches or body aches, or suffer from changes in your sleep patterns and eating patterns.

Now if being under-employed or in a life situation that is not stimulating continues for what feels like a long time to you (and I put it that way because we all have different tolerance levels) it will lead to boredom, exhaustion, and frustration. Ultimately you will feel helpless or powerless in your situation.

We believe that flatlining, or burnout from under-performing, under-achieving, or being under-challenged is spiritual in nature. When we under-perform and under-achieve we disappoint ourselves. We cannot hide from our interior self. We know when we are not striving to live at our highest potential.

We feel the heaviness of not fulfilling our 'sacred' contract with the universe to show-up in person and to give it our all!

Keeping yourself from achieving, stopping yourself from striving for what you want, will eventually kill your spirit. You will feel disillusioned, discouraged and demoralised. You may believe that you are letting yourself down, living contrary to your values and beliefs, maybe even experience a sense of incongruence within yourself.

Under-performing represents a dampening down of your energy in all ways; physical, mental, creative, emotional, and most definitely, spiritual. When you are challenged you grow and flourish, but when you are under-challenged you stagnate and shrink. Make no mistake, burnout from under-performing, not being jazzed about your life, is just as serious as burnout from over-performing!

Life moves us ever forward, always on a path of discovering more about our potential. Don't let fear stand in your way. Don't let life lose its lustre. Stop standing still. Grow into your potential.


Get courageous and honest with yourself if you want to stop burnout from under-performing. 'Flatlining' happens for many different reasons. If you are in this predicament ask yourself:

• Is my work environment offering enough stimulation, challenge, or opportunity to learn?

• Am I at the end of a love affair with my current career and secretly longing to break out of my comfort zone and do something different?

• Am I in a relationship that is not allowing me to grow as a person?

Identify the area(s) of your life that are draining your energy by not challenging you.

Sometimes under-performing becomes a way of life because of deep, long-standing patterns of emotions, beliefs, and behaviours. If this is you, get bold and get help! Your beautiful life is waiting.