NZS, Episode 0004: How To Avoid Burnout!

Nate: Hi everyone, welcome to episode 4 of the Nate Zeisler Show. I can’t believe that I’m already on episode 4 because this entire podcasting process of getting the podcast up online has been so incredibly easy. As many of you know, I’m about action. For those of you who have been considering the launch of a podcast, I encourage you to get started with BuzzSprout right now, because, what else do you have to do! Whether you want to launch a new arts centric channel, have a message you want to share with the world, or just think it would be fun to have your own talk show…podcasting is an easy, inexpensive, and fun way to expand your reach online. I use BuzzSprout and it is one of the easiest platforms I have used to create online content. So, what are you waiting for, get started today. 

Now, on to our question of the day, which comes from Jazmine.

Jazmin: Hey Nate, Jazmin here with a question pertaining to Work Life Balance. What recommendations do you have for young professionals on how to prevent or realize burnout while also desperately trying to pay bills, get an education and build a resume? 

Nate: Hi Jazmin, thanks so much for the excellent question! Burnout is one of the most common challenges all of us face in establishing a good work/life balance, especially when trying to launch a career. I remember a time in my mid-20s when I felt invincible and that I could push work to the limits. I would work late into the night to tackle the biggest projects on my plate. The problem was that I stopped working out, I didn’t really have a social life and, most importantly, the quality of my work suffered greatly. Burnout snuck up on me and really caused me to career shift quickly in order to balance everything out. With that in mind, I have a few thoughts that might help.

First and foremost, let me acknowledge that burnout is a real thing and I hear you. I have also found that burnout is not just a young professional issue, it often follows individuals over the course of their career, coming and going in waves. Admittedly, I struggle with burnout quite a bit, and I’m solidly in my 40s. 

One of the biggest culprits of burnout for me is that I am in a constant state of comparing myself to others. My endless social media feed combined with a constant barrage of advice by “thought leaders” makes me constantly feel like I’m not doing enough to keep up with the world and the work that is expected of me. In this time of abundance of information I get to the point of oversaturation, comparing myself to the career trajectory of others at the expense of my own life and career. Burnout often comes from extrinsic pressure rather than my own internal drive to move my career forward. With this in mind I have been moving farther and farther away from my social media feeds and trying to only check them occasionally. Otherwise I get sucked in and I can’t stop scrolling.  I would strongly encourage you to try using a website like freedom, which allows you to block sites so you can be more productive. 

Beyond all of that extrinsic noise that we find in our social media feeds I want you to consider the three areas you mentioned in your question as a series of dials you can turn to prevent burnout in the future. 

When it comes to finances, I find that there are two types of people. One side is generally fine scraping by from month to month, not exactly knowing where their money will come from while the other side tends to be much more risk-averse and concerned about their day-to-day living expenses. My guess is that you are at a moment in your life where your level of income isn’t always meeting the amount of expenses that you have. This can make for a particularly stressful time in your life and career. What I would suggest that you do is look at the different options to either cut expenses or make more money. Now, that may seem like a logical answer to your question but generally when I find myself in those positions it’s because I haven’t taken the time to really look deeply at where my spending is happening each month and quite often I can find some savings that will help me take a deeper breath and not be so stressed out about where my money comes from. If you’re not already using a budgeting app, my hands-down favorite is You Need A Budget or Not only is YNAB the easiest budgeting app I’ve ever used, it’s also highly educational with an unlimited amount of resources to help you save and plan for your future. 

In regards to that tension between going all-in on your education and balancing that with building your resume as a young professional I still think that the most important thing you can do with your time at this moment is to invest as deeply as possible in your college degree. What I would suggest as a way to build your resume is to look within the framework of the coursework that you’re participating in and try to find ways that help you become more competitive when you leave the institution. Is there a club on campus in which you can come more deeply involved, can you launch a project or an initiative on your own that supports the work that you’re doing in the classroom but also helps pave the path to what you want to be doing when you graduate. I’ve found that picking one project and going as deeply as possible on that work is way more impactful in your job search then trying to do many things to build you resume. 

The final thing I’ll say here is that I give you permission to downshift to a slightly slower pace that where you are right now. If I were to develop a set of priorities for you, I would say that you should come out of school with as little debt as possible as that will give you the most flexibility to take career risks after you graduate. After that, your priority should be school, and finally you should be building your resume.  I’m sure there’s a lot of noise from your professors and peers who are giving you advice on what you should be doing to be ready for a career when you graduate but ultimately, you’re the one who is in charge building that path. 

Jazmine, thank you so much for the question and please keep me posted as you pave your path towards a balanced life. For my listeners, contributing a question for this podcast has never been easier and I’m including information on how to send a question my way in the show notes and on the written transcript of the podcast. Thanks so much for listening! 

Show Notes: Want to submit a question to be answered on this podcast? Simply make a recording of your question on your phone and email it to me at and I’ll answer your question on a future episode.

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Nate Zeisler is the Dean for Community Initiatives at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He envisions a world where students majoring in the arts have a clear path to a sustainable career, where creative minds are empowered and inspired to rule the workforce, and where access to the arts is not just for the privileged few, but for all.

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