5 Harsh Truths Every Funeral Pro Must Face To Avoid Burnout

What’s the number one killer of productivity and consistency at your funeral home?

Hint: It’s not Facebook. 

According to Bruce Tulgan from Rainmaker Thinking, the problem is that most of us are suffering from what he calls “Overcommitment Syndrome”. 

Never heard of that? 

We hadn’t either. 

But it’s a totally real thing with totally real consequences for companies and individuals. 


Overcommitment Syndrome explained

According to Psychology Today:

 “Overcommitment syndrome emerges when everything on your to-do list is “urgent and important.” New priorities are added to the list every day. Everybody’s competing for limited resources, human resources, first and foremost”.

Most of us want to be amazing at what we do. We want to be the person others can count on to get the job done. However, being the person who is always expected to do the most for everyone no matter what gets old fast. It’s an unsustainable way of working. And living. 

Below, we offer up some hard truths you might face if you suffer from overcommitment syndrome that will help you shift your perspective. We’re hoping these hard truths offer you a way forward that doesn’t lead to more exhaustion and frustration. Grab a cup of tea (non caffeinated please, overachiever) and let’s get to it:


Hard truth #1: Despite your perfectionism tendencies, you’ll likely make a lot of small mistakes that just create more frustration

The more we are overcommitted and overwhelmed, the more likely we are to make a mistake. Those mistakes lead to frustrations and problems that put strain on our relationships with colleagues. Poor working relationships lead to poor communication, which puts even more pressure on everyone. Hardly an ideal situation. Unfortunately, it seems like an unbreakable cycle. 

But, it’s not. We aren’t doomed to be perpetually exhausted IF we can remove ourselves from the overcommitment loop. But, you have to consciously break the pattern. And this means that you will probably have to rethink the conventional wisdom about how to work more productively and avoid burnout.


Hard truth #2: If your strategy is simply to outwork everyone else, you’re doomed to fail 

This is not to say you don’t have to work hard to gain recognition or to succeed at reaching your career goals. But you can’t just grind yourself into the ground trying to prove how awesome you are. Because when you burn the midnight oil all the time, you’ll eventually burn yourself out. Being burned out means you’ll make more mistakes, no matter how good you are. And we already talked about the chain of events that follow burnout-induced mistakes.


Hard truth #3: You probably don’t understand what real influence is

It’s okay, most people don’t. When we think about influence, we often think of it as something we do to people.. The thing is, that isn’t authentic influence. Real influence does not involve forcing people to comply with your wishes. It isn’t even convincing people to comply with your wishes. 

Instead, when you have real influence, you won’t have to force anything. People will want to do things for you. Why? Because of how you treat them and how you conduct yourself. If you are truly influencing people, they will root for your success and want to be part of something with you. They’ll want to do things that make you happy! Influence isn’t something you have. It is not a force to be wielded.  It is something that lives within others; it is something that you build and nurture. 


Hard truth #4: If you never say no, you’ll never actually get anything done

Anyone who has ever consumed any kind of content aimed at improving productivity has heard some iteration of the following: learn when to say no. It’s pretty simple. You can’t get everything done if you overcommit yourself by saying “yes” every time someone asks you to do something. You only have so much bandwidth, and if you never say no, you probably won’t get anything done. 

This all sounds so good, but sometimes saying “no” just doesn’t seem like a viable option. If we’re trying to be the shining star of our team, the dependable go-to person, it seems counterintuitive to go around saying “no.” So, let’s start thinking about the whole idea of “no” in a different way.

Sometimes saying no is actually adding more value than saying yes. Next time someone asks you to do something, stop and think about what they are asking for. Give them the respect of really thinking about whether you’ll be able to fulfill that for them. Make sure you’re not just saying yes because you want to be seen as dependable. Besides, as we have said multiple times, all your “YES”  will eventually lead to disappointing someone, and we know you don’t want to do that.


Hard truth #5: You could be looking at work relationships in the wrong way

Perpetual burnout isn’t doing any favors for your working relationships, and it doesn’t help that many of us have a skewed perspective of what a healthy work relationship even looks like. We all know that having good rapport with our colleagues is hugely beneficial to ourselves and to whatever we’re trying to accomplish at work. So often, though, we are behaving in ways that actually undermine our ability to be on truly good terms with the people we work with.

Just like with authentic influence, authentic relationships at work will bear fruit for everyone involved. An authentic relationship comes from a place of mutual respect and trust. It isn’t about cultivating the appearance of being awesome by going through the motions. It’s about acting with intention when you deal with your colleagues and about being honest with them about what you can do. 


Last hard truth to remember: None of this advice is a quick-fix

To overcome overcommitment syndrome, we all have to keep working on the ways we interact with people at work. We have to resist the urge to compete with our colleagues and find ways to support them. Finally, we have to give ourselves a little grace. We don’t have to be everything to everyone to be amazing and indispensable. 

How does overcommitment syndrome show up in your life? How are you working to heal it? Tell us in the comments below!

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