Let's Talk About Professional Burnout

For the past 6 years I have worked in customer service in a variety of roles, some jobs better than others. One thing I wish someone had talked to me about when I first entered the workforce is professional burnout.

According to the Mayo Clinic “Job burnout is a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity”.

Essentially, you are a star that burns too hot and too fast because the level of dedication and enthusiasm you bring to your job, is unsustainable.

This problem contributes and affects your overall happiness and contentment with your life and yourself.

As a textbook overachiever, I never feel like the job is done. Even if I have finished my job I feel like I must first help others complete their job before going home.

This strategy, though well intentioned, creates a lose-lose scenario for everyone. First, it over burdens you, even though you may not feel it in the moment. Second, it can cause tension in stress when others are not in a position to reciprocate, appreciate or reward your extra efforts.

To clarify, I am not saying you should not be a hard-worker, I simply believe in learning to work smarter and more sustainably for your own health.

The key that I have found to creating a sustainable work balance is introspection and preparation.

As Chris Voss says in Never Split the Difference”You fall to your highest level of preparation.”

First, you need to understand your current work habits. Do you procrastinate? Do you like structure and deadlines? What work environment were you the happiest in and why? What motivates you in a work environment? For example, you could be motivated by money or feeling like you are doing good and making a difference!

There are really no right or wrong answers. This is just about you identifying and correlating your professional success and personal happiness, to tangible aspects you can look for in a job.

Once you have completed the introspection part, the next step is preparation!

This could mean clear communication with your boss about expectations and reward structures. But the overall message, is that once you know what motivates you, it is time to seek out an environment in which you can thrive. If you find yourself in a more rigid professional environment then it is time to intentionally pursue the things that motivate you in your personal life.

I want to tell you about how I am staying sane working full time, while taking classes, getting my real estate license and being published.

It’s all about preparation. When I accepted my job, I asked questions in my interview that would help prepare me for success. I asked detailed questions about responsibilities, time commitments, flexibility (where I had flexibility and where I did not), what he thought helped people succeed in this position and what he thought caused people to fail. The answers to these questions prompted me to create a plan.

I am not motivated by money, I am a true ENFJ, in that I genuinely just want to do good for everyone around me. So, since my new job wasn’t in the humanitarian field, I created homeless bags to give to people to and from my way to work. I knew that with long hours, I was going to miss spending time with Lily so I asked for pictures and videos to be sent everyday. I knew it was going to be a huge adjustment to sitting in an office all day, so I try to walk my dogs when I get home from work everyday. And finally, but I think most importantly, I created a list of things that Keith can do when he thinks I am getting stressed, overwhelmed, or just down. It is really difficult for people who care about you to know exactly how to help and it can also be hard for you to tell them in the moment. Being proactive and letting the people closest to you know exactly how to trouble-shoot your bad days can save everyone a lot of confusion and frustration.

I am still fighting for a balance of my professional and personal life so please feel free to comment with any tips you have!

Leave a Reply