Next up in the burnout acronym is the letter N for neglect.  You’re neglecting your self-care. When we are entering that burnout arena, oh a reminder:  burnout doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time.  When we enter that burnout arena, one of the first things that happens is we start neglecting our self-care. 

What do I mean by self-care? You hear that phrase a lot. Many people may not understand what it completely means.  Self-care means making sure that you’re taking care of yourself, both physically, mentally, spiritually and any other descriptor that you can come up with. You need to take care of yourself. You need to eat well, that doesn’t mean that you’re skipping the brown bag lunches every day, but you should eat better than maybe you are. When I had my burn out, my nutrition plan was ordering something through a speaker, driving around the corner, paying for it and get getting handed a brown paper bag. And that was my three meals a day because I was working crazy hours and not sitting down and eating. I was basically consuming fast food as my breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Obviously, that takes a toll and gets you on cholesterol medications and potentially stents in your left anterior descending artery. Not that I’d know anything about that. 

When you neglect yourself from a food standpoint that impacts your energy level, because again, your body needs to break down what you’re consuming. So when you’re eating foods that aren’t really beneficial for you, your body is fighting that and trying to figure out where do I sort this? It’s kind of like taking a bag of garbage and recycling and all of that stuff and throwing it all into one container, and you throw it down the chute.

If somebody has to sort it, they have to go through and say, OK, this is recyclable. This is compost. This is actually garbage. Your body has to do that with everything that we consume, not only from food standpoint, but also from an information standpoint. So if you are parked on the couch watching the nightly news or reading posts on all the doom and gloom of the world, guess what? That’s going to impact your approach on life. That’s going to impact what you’re consuming and it’s going to impact you how you live your life. 

If you focus on bad negative things, you’re inviting that to be a normal part of your life. It’s like what you consume makes you. Now, I’m not saying to ignore what’s going on in the world, but I am saying take it in with the mindset of this is something that’s happening in the world, but not happening directly to me.

When there’s “doom and gloom” in the world, ask yourself if you as an individual can do something about it? If you can’t. Don’t worry about it. Is it impacting you directly? No? Don’t worry about it. Don’t focus your time and energy on that. Focus your time and energy of being able to do the things you can do to make your world better. Change comes within. And if you want to change the world, change yourself. Because if you change yourself and you’re a better person, then your impact on the world is going to be better, which means it’s going to impact the world. And that’s something you need to repeat every day. Wash, rinse, and repeat constantly. Do that. 

You’re neglecting yourself, with what you’re eating, what you’re consuming and what you’re not doing: the things that bring you joy and happiness and fulfillment.  Neglecting yourself is going to increase your likelihood of either a burning out or be staying in a burned out state for much longer than you want to. It’s crucial for you to take care of yourself. You have to be the best version of yourself in order to impact others. 

After you stop neglecting yourself and focus on your self-care, you can’t let guilt and worrying about what other people think because you’re taking care of yourself. They’re going to project onto you what they think, or what they’re going to say. “You’re being selfish or you don’t care anymore”. Or “why are you taking this position that’s being rude” to whatever. That’s them projecting onto you their beliefs, their thoughts and feelings.  Be like Captain America, use that shield and block that because don’t take their projections on to you.

What you need to do is make sure that you’re focusing on yourself first, because if you were your best self, when you do serve and choose to serve people or offer help or guidance, what’s going to happen? You’re going to be giving them a version that they have never seen before and it’s going to be better and you’re going to have a huge ripple effect on them and everything else you do. You have to take care of yourself first. 

 Don’t neglect yourself because when you do. It’s going to create some long-term problems for you.

There is a book called Disease to Please. I highly recommend you read this and I highly recommend you read that book on an annual basis. I read it last Christmas. I have it on my calendar that I’m going to read it again this Christmas. It’s a gift to myself to be able to look at what I am doing, to see if I am doing things to please people instead of serving people. It’s a big difference. You can serve people. You don’t need to please them. Serve them. It’s a big difference. 

 Next up on the BURNOUT acronym is O.


  • Michael Levitt

    Chief Burnout Officer

    Breakfast Leadership, Inc.

    Michael Levitt is the founder & Chief Burnout Officer of Breakfast Leadership, Inc,, a San Diego and Toronto-based burnout prevention firm. He is a Certified NLP and CBT Therapist, and is one of the world's leading authorities in burnout recovery and prevention.  He is also a Fortune 500 consultant, #1 bestselling author, and host of the Breakfast Leadership Show, a top 200 podcast on iTunes. He is a 2x Top 20 Global Thought Leader on Culture with Thinkers360. He is a former Healthcare executive, CIO, and CFO overseeing $ 2 Billion budgets, so he’s seen and done it all.
    His main keynotes are:
    1. Burnout Prevention: How To Avoid Your Own Year of Worst-Case Scenarios 2. Workplace Culture: Create A Workplace That People Will Beg To Work With 3. Working Remotely With Boundaries: How To Accomplish More At Home, Without Burning Out