From Lindsay Tigar on Ask Men
Even if you started off in a gig that brought you joy and fulfillment, feeling disenchanted after many years — or decades — is a common ailment for many professionals. Though there are some perks to staying in the same industry, or even remaining loyal to a company, if you find yourself exhausted at the mere thought of heading into the office, you could be heading towards a major burnout.
Now, you may be asking yourself what exactly is burnout? Career expert and founder of The Lonely Entrepreneur, Michael Dermer says this all-too-frequent experience is what happens when your career doesn’t match your passion. You’re working endlessly, finding some sort of success, but in the end, you aren’t happy. And you aren’t inspired, invigorated or excited about what you’re doing day-in and day-out.
If you’re feeling this way, you’re definitely not alone, especially since the most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found American workers are quitting their jobs at the highest rate since 2001. Dermer says though some of this has to do with layoffs and high employment, a big part of it is also the surplus of the gig economy that’s often fueled from burnout.
If you find yourself walking a fine line and thinking of jumping ship, here’s what you need to know about avoiding burnout and preparing for this career shift.
Talk About It
What career burnout looks like on one person is vastly different than what it can come across in another. As leadership development and career expert Elizabeth Whittaker-Walker explains, sometimes it looks like apathy, other times it’s depression, or it’s a string of desperate sick days and vacation time linked together.
However it looks on you, the worst thing you can do is keep it inside. It’s better to address what’s happening to your trusted network — whether it’s friends, family or mentors — so you can start to take action. After all, even if in decades past, America’s workforce nursed or numbed how they were feeling about their careers, access to technology today creates the landscape for change unlike before.
“With the rise in apps, websites and services in the career industry coupled with a myriad of remote opportunities, it may be easier than ever to change lanes,” she explains.
Have a Plan
Intentional or not, Dermer says many times, people end up in jobs out of need. But what few remember is how needs change over time. While any paying job (preferably with benefits) was ideal when you were fresh out of college so you could pay off your student loans, now that you’re more established, your ‘needs’ have likely changed. You can’t go back and change your choice to invest in higher education now, but you can start making a plan right now to figure out how to be happy.
If you need to work in your lucrative, cushy office job for a few more years while you save up as much as you can and pay off any loans, start laying the foundation for what you will do once you hit that milestone of freedom. Dermer says having a plan and making an investment to follow the path is a key part of preventing burnout.
Be True to Yourself
By this, Dermer means being brave enough to address what you’re really feeling. Having the courage to reflect on your day-to-day happiness and not going by the status quo will pay off in the long run, even if it’s scary in the here-and-now.
Sometimes simply admitting that something isn’t right is a big enough first step to help you make progress in the right direction. “Don’t fall into the trap of doing what you did today because you did it yesterday. And don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t make changes. You may not be able to make changes right away but there is always a way,” Dermer explains.
One way to explore what’s happening in your career (or perhaps, not happening) is to make a good ‘ole fashioned pro and con list. This will illustrate what you enjoy about your current environment and the areas that need improvement. As you look into opportunities or consider your grand exit, having this info top of mind will make you more strategic and mindful.
Remember Your ‘Why’
Hopefully, your career shift won’t be as dramatic as Ross and Rachel attempting to move a couch in a stairwell but if you need permission to pivot, here it is. Though Whittaker-Walker isn’t suggesting you send in your letter of resignation today, she’s not saying it’s a terrible idea, depending on where you are in your career.
You can understand if your feelings of burnout are fueled by your industry or by your company, by channeling your inner ‘why.’ What is something that fuels your fire? What’s something you could talk about for hours? What makes you amped to go into the office? These answers will address your motivations — and help you to start, well, dreaming again. “Imagining the possibilities is the first step. Begin doing some research to determine what your next steps should be. When seeking new opportunities, set clear boundaries. If the new option you’re exploring is not aligned to your purpose, keep it moving,” she continues.
“Once you give yourself permission to do something different, you have to follow through in your actions. Resist the urge to do the thing you’ve always done, if you’re clear that it doesn’t serve your best self.”
If you are in a financial position where you can take the next year off of work and really do some soul-searching, go for it. But since most people are not, it’s important to do research before you decide to make a move. By digging into a new industry — or into your own mental habits — you can begin to address where you can make changes.
“Look for opportunities to work in your passion area, where you are. While you’re doing your research and developing your pivot plan, be intentional about looking for opportunities that allow you to work in your purpose,” Whittaker-Walker suggests. “Spend some time with yourself. Before you jump career ships, make sure you are clear on what’s prompting the burnout. Sometimes dissatisfaction in one area of life can spill into our careers. If you’re consistently stressed about something at home, with extended family, finances, world events, your image, etc., your career may or may not be the culprit. Invest some time in getting to the root of your feelings, and once you have, plan and prepare accordingly.”
Leave A Comment