Like background noise, burnout may go unnoticed, but its effects gradually impair our capacity to function. And it’s the reason 40% of professionals have sought new career opportunities recently, according to a 2021 Limeade survey.
The trigger is stealthy and develops incrementally, with the potential of achieving chronic levels and the ultimate status of an occupational or psychological hazard.
Burnout, if left unattended, can debilitate our mental, physical and emotional health. But similar to other medical conditions, the earlier burnout is detected, the faster we can find an off-ramp and reroute our pathway to harmony.
The good news is that we know the warning signs.
*Emotionally, we may feel disappointment and disillusionment with work or sentiments of being undervalued.
*Physically, we may experience stubborn fatigue, restlessness and an inability to sleep through the night.
*Mentally, confusion, inattentive disposition and clouded thinking are leading indicators.
There is no quick fix for burnout — it takes time to get burned out and even more time to overcome it. If you’re missing deadlines at work, perceiving routine tasks as stressful, thinking about quitting while displaying increased tardiness, absenteeism, irritability or loss of motivation, it may be time for a change.
Here are a few tips that professionals and job seekers can consider when contemplating a career move to help avoid or mitigate burnout:
Listen to the click. Much like how a gas pump clicks as the tank reaches its limit, life provides a click for stress, tension and physical ailments. It’s a sign that we’re at capacity, and it’s time to stop pumping. Listen to your body and adjust accordingly.
Know your “why.” Reconnecting with the mission or purpose of your work provides the context to “zoom out” and put daily tasks into perspective. Understanding how your work contributes to an overall mission is the key to meaningful engagement. Feeling valued and consequential enables you to ignite your inner fire without fear of burnout.
Use your time-outs. In sports, coaches call a time-out to bring focus, assess the flow and momentum of the game and craft their next play. Professionally, micro-vacations serve that same function by helping you reassess your current situation.
Take a moment to take stock. Engage in authentic reflection, quiet your mind and make an inventory of your concerns. Uncertainty and ambiguity can intensify disengagement and burnout. Combat them by scouting the landscape for the scope and volume of your current responsibilities to better understand where to focus your attention in the future.
Schedule your life, not just your tasks. Rather than filling out your calendar based on things to do, organize it around your primary roles in life. Think in terms of your role as a spouse, parent, friend, colleague or employee. This allows you to see if you are neglecting any of these roles over a period of time. Doing this brings visibility to your choices in terms of how you spend time doing what matters most to you.
If you see the warning signs, act now to get yourself back on track. Life is too short to let it burn you out. Seek the full life of inspiration that is calling to you.