January 20, 2020

To The Burnt Out and To Those Running on Fumes – A Final Unapologetic Message

As you are now aware, I am in the process of sharing my final thoughts with the world, one personal message at a time.

This message contains my final words and thoughts to those who are burnt out or running on fumes.

Dear friends,

Do you remember before you were officially burnt out, when you were running on your final fumes, and it felt like you had nothing left to give?

And then, after you kept running on those precious final fumes, when the last of them finally combusted, you literally could find nothing left inside of your internal gas tanks to give to anything or anyone anymore?

Believe me, I feel you. There is a big difference between running on fumes and being burnt out. As long as you’re running on fumes, you can somehow (by some miracle) keep doing what you’ve been doing, even though you know the end of what you can do is near. When you’re burnt out, there’s no way to get things moving again until you sit empty for a while and find a new source of fuel.

These “final words to the world” that I am writing were not started from a mentally full tank of gas, or even close to a partial tank of gas. They were started from a cold and empty gas tank of a moment in my life and I knew there was no getting the wheels moving again unless I somehow had at least a few drops of gas added to my tank from some source, somewhere.

It was my third absolute burnout doing this in the last ten years.

I remember the first burnout I experienced because there was a specific moment that has sat heavily with me ever since.

My brand new blog had catapulted into exciting places that quickly made me choose whether to run with it full time or give it up and keep my job in business. I had agents and publishing houses calling. I had universities offering to pay me to speak. I had morning shows asking me to be a guest. My blog traffic was only getting higher every week. At the time, it wasn’t actually that scary to quit what I had been building in business to follow a writing dream I had had ever since I fell in love with the craft in high school.


The big book deal my new agent presented to publishers fell through in the final acquisitions meeting.

Out of personal integrity, I cancelled the handful of speaking gigs I had lined up because I knew they were offered to the wrong person once I really thought them through.

And then, for almost the entire next year…

I more or less starved as I tried to figure it all out. While my three-year-old had no idea how bad it ever got because his needs were always met, it did get bad.

All while working a hundred+ hours a week…

I officially lost my home.

I lost my vehicle.

My bank account was at zero and my credit card was maxed.

I literally was digging through couch cushions looking for change so that I could keep the illusion alive with my kid that he would never go without so long as I was around.

There was a stack of overdue bills with big red stamps all over them that I just couldn’t open anymore.

My phone rang off the hook with calls from collectors.

And my blog kept growing. My following stayed involved. I just couldn’t figure out how to monetize it no matter what common practices I tried to implement.

I’ve never told you all what I am about to tell you, but what does it matter if I do at this point?

lot of that struggle then (and a lot since) was because a small (but big enough) group of parent bloggers hated me and my suddenly successful dad blog so much that they did everything they could to team up and sabotage me and my ability to make money in the blogging world.

They networked blog posts together to take over the search engine results so that any company who typed in my name or my blog’s name would see nothing but a wall of negativity and apparent controversy surrounding me. This made it incredibly difficult to get sponsorships.

I was told by big ad agency after big ad agency that they couldn’t take my website onto their platform because it had been blacklisted after “reports of controversy” and because of the quality/score of the domain, due to the smear campaigns.

Hate groups were formed on Facebook and considerable effort was taken by so many of these parent bloggers to put an end to everything I tried to do to monetize my blog and my writing on the platform that was driving my traffic. They attacked the comments. They dropped constant, terrible posts on my page. It was relentless for a long time.

I kept going with it. I kept trying. I kept doing everything I could with the belief that the negativity and the hurtful actions would end eventually.

It all drained me to the point of fumes. Eventually, the fumes ran out, and complete burnout finally happened.

At the very end of that burnout period of my life, the power to my home got shut off. Thankfully my child was at his mother’s house for a few days because I wouldn’t have wanted to explain that to him.

It was so hot outside that day.

I’ll never forget that feeling of having my electricity suddenly go out. There wasn’t any hope that it was just the usual short-lived power outage we all experience sometimes. I had received the overdue notices and the shutoff notices. The time had finally come, and the power company was true to its word.

By late afternoon that same day, my house (which I would be losing in a matter of weeks anyway) had become an oven.

My official rock bottom came an hour or so after I stripped off my shirt and lay face down on the tile floor of my kitchen to try and cool my body down. I just lay there in absolute, complete burnout, knowing my gas tank was completely empty. I knew I couldn’t do any of it anymore. I couldn’t even fire up my desktop computer to write another blog post if I wanted to try, which I admittedly did not.

After an hour of laying there (with no intentions of ever picking myself up), I watched as a mouse appeared from who knows where under the ledge of the opposing cabinets. I felt nothing when it appeared. I just watched it.

The mouse began moving along the base of the cabinets toward a mouse trap I had set a couple weeks earlier. I felt nothing. I just watched it.

It started sniffing the peanut butter I had used to bait the trap. I felt nothing. I just watched it.

It stood on its hind legs, came down again with its front paws on the mechanism, and the trap snapped its spine in two. I felt nothing. I just watched.

Its nerves fired and it flopped around wildly for a moment before it went still. I felt nothing. I just watched.

For at least another hour I didn’t sit up or get up. I didn’t even turn my head from where it rested on the floor. I just lay there and I stared at the dead mouse, feeling nothing.

Friends, that is burnout.

I could go into details about the other two total burnouts I’ve had, including this very last one right before I started these final messages. All three situations have many parallels, but you get the imagery from that first burnout, I’m sure. The point is, there is a big difference between running on fumes and actual, complete, undeniable burnout.

Sometimes burnout happens because of our own shortcomings. Sometimes it happens because other people take too much or affect us too deeply in some way. Usually, it is a mixture of the two. Burnout is very real. It’s something every human who gives life everything they’ve got will experience from time to time. The world, and the people in it, just have a way of making that certain sometimes, despite our best efforts.

Do you know what I have learned about burnout and what has to happen when it happens?

I have learned that it is next to impossible (if not completely impossible) to come out of burnout by yourself. A car that runs out of gas doesn’t just sit for hours or days and magically have a tank full of gas out of nowhere. Somebody has to walk somewhere, or call somebody, and then return to put some gas into that tank if it’s ever going to feed the engine again.

Whether it’s financial or emotional burnout you are feeling when you get there, the very fact that the fumes are gone means that you really have no choice but to humble yourself and ask for help in whatever capacity you need that help.

After I finally picked myself up off of the kitchen floor that day almost 9 years ago, I realized that I could fire up my laptop and use its battery one last time. I realized I could turn my phone into a wifi router long enough to create one last blog post. So, I sat down to say goodbye to my followers in one final message.

Asking for help never even crossed my mind when I first sat down that night. Asking for help is literally the last thing that is ever on my mind when I near burnout because I always do literally everything I can to never burden any other person on my behalf. There is a matter of “I can make it on my own” pride, for sure, but mostly there is just a feeling that other people will always need help way more than I do.

I started typing my final blog post to my followers that day, and instead of saying goodbye, I found myself making a promise to my followers instead. I told them all that I felt like I was on the cusp of figuring it out. I told them where I was in life. I gave them my PayPal address. I asked them to support me for what I had been giving to them every single day. I told them if they could do that, I would keep going. If they couldn’t, I would have to be done.

I published the post. I shared the link on Facebook. I turned it all off to save electricity, sure that what I had done was the end of my blogging journey (and honestly being okay with that).


Bong. Bong. Bong. My phone started dinging as emails came in. I opened it up. Bong. Bong. Bong. Bong. Bong. Bong. For the next two or three days, my followers opened up their hearts, and donation by donation, my phone never seemed to stop bonging.

I have had ugly tears, and by that I mean completely uncontrollable, sobbing, unable to stop crying, thick, loud, throat-closing tears, exactly five times in my life. That was one of them.

A few days later, when the bonging had stopped, there was $7,000 sitting in my bank account, my power was turned back on, and when I turned the ignition to my engine again, things fired right up. Someone (my followers at the time) had come and put gas in my empty tank and from there I was able to keep my promise and figure it all out (at least for a while).

My point is, if you are officially out of fumes and burnt out, it is usually because you are trying to do too much by yourself, and you have been trying to do it too long. That has been the case for me every single time I reached burnout.

All that expense of energy will always catch up to you, eventually. The human mind and body both only have so much to give before they just shut down and refuse to give anything further. They probably shut down for your own good, forcing you to take some sort of different action in life or to ask for help, but there is no denying that they do shut down if your burnout is truly burnout.

The only advice I can give you for burnout is to get yourself up off of that cold tile floor. Throw the proverbial dead mouse into the waste bin. Connect to people who do care about you and know how hard you work to never ask for help. And… Ask… For… Help. Ask for assistance. Ask for anything that will put some gas into your tank.

Nothing changed in my circumstances after I asked for help. I still had to deal with the aftermath of what those other bloggers did, and it has affected me to this day when it comes to monetizing my blog. They had a plan to make blogging impossible, and what they did has lasted, and lasted, even though they long ago disappeared. I mean, I can kind of give them a weird form of kudos for a job well done.

What did happen was that being honest with the world about how much I had given of myself, and just how burnt out I was, led to several people sharing ideas and opportunities with me that might help me monetize in completely different ways. That, in turn, put food on my table for the next few years at least. Had I never asked for help that day, I don’t know if I ever could have learned those things had I been able to keep going on my own.

Now, please don’t take what I am about to say as anything but an addition to the conversation. My emotions admittedly took hold as I wrote it, but it’s important to my final message, which I promised to be unapologetic:

This time around, when my burnout now is no different than it was that very first time, and I am again losing my home, and I am officially out of fumes, and I actually need real support…

I will admit that I let my pride get in the way of properly asking my following for the type of help that I needed. I mentioned money briefly after telling you about my burnout, and I’ve thrown a few paragraphs as some sort of PS after each “final words” post that I am writing, but I never truly asked for real help from you so that I can get Noah and me to whatever is next.

Because of that (and I pray that what I just mentioned is the actual reason), I don’t think my followers truly knew where I was with it all and how much I actually needed them one final time.

Don’t get me wrong. A few very kind donations (all of which I am beyond thankful for) have definitely come in. Those donations will help fund these servers and blogging expenses until I am done with these posts, but not much more. It is admittedly deflating to know that after reaching hundreds of millions of people over the past decade, no more than a few people actually seem to care that I did it at all.

I do not feel entitled to anything, ever, and I am thankful for what you’ve given. There is no bitterness in me at all because what I have received is more than any human should probably get in a desperate time of need, and I have had some truly human moments with some of those who gave.

That was way more than I planned to write about that. I honestly didn’t even bring it up except to use as an example to finish my message to those who will find themselves as burned out as I am, because it was a really important lesson for me to learn this time:

When you do get to that point of asking for help, ask for help, and ask for immediate and real help. Don’t let your pride pussy foot around the important details of what might actually help to fill your tank up enough to get moving again. Ask for the help that will let you thrive enough that you do not need any help again for a very long time.

If you’re like me, you have a big gas tank that can take you a long distance when that tank is full. Usually you are able to make it to your own gas stations and fill up your own gas tank as you go about life. But just like everyone, when it is empty, you cannot just magically be full again, and neither can I if I am being completely honest.

So, ask for help, already. Just asking will usually open doors for you that you didn’t know were there to walk through, and just on the other side of those doors is someone waiting with a gas can, happy to give you a gallon or two to get you to the next stop.

Dan Pearce | Dan Pearce Was Here (formerly Single Dad Laughing)