A few years ago I put the kids to bed. I went back to work to finish up a client project. I sat down at my desk and just stared at the computer screen for 10 minutes. I just couldn’t get myself to work. I tried to laugh it off and opened up my client’s analytics dashboard and I could feel my shoulders and neck tighten. I hadn't studied burnout. I didn't know the reasons for burnout. I was in the dark.
I knew something was wrong. This was at a time that I believed in just powering through my work. It was what I learned from my father. Just work harder to get it done. I knew that I needed to make some changes.
You may have experienced something similar. Your body is telling you one thing, but you want to do something else. It’s these subtle cues that our bodies are giving us that we must listen to. If we don’t, then burnout will take over and wreck us for weeks, sometimes months.
It took me two months to get over my burnout. That’s when I went back into the corporate world. The change of scenery and pace really charged my battery.
Reasons for Burnout
After working with hundreds of people in their careers I found that there are two main reason for burnout:
- Lack of purpose
As we dig deeper there are nuances to these reasons, but it’s usually one of these two that are the main cause of burnout.
I struggled with burnout from both causes at different times in my career. I interviewed a best-selling author and she burned out because she was marketing her new book. She laughed and thought no way am I going to burnout, but she was warned and she admits that they were right.
She doesn’t regret working hard and burning out because it’s what she thought was best for her at the time. She sold over 10,000 copies in the first month, but looking back on it… she should have set-up a two week vacation she could go on after her launch. It would have forced her to take a break from work a month after her book launch. This would have helped her recover and process the heavy workload, so she could then adjust her plan for her next three months.
It’s ok to work hard. In fact it can be invigorating when you have the right recharge activities in place. Everyone’s personality is different. You can take the Dig to Fly Personality Quiz to find out the best way to recharge your battery whether you are an extrovert, extrovert blend, introvert or introvert blend.
The idea is to have systems in place that allow you to work hard and then have time to recharge, so you don’t hit a wall and get dazed and confused for months at a time. You end up losing more time and damaging your health to accomplish your goals.
The other reason people burnout is lack of purpose. People often think burnout is because we are overworked. They don’t appreciate the importance of purpose to help us build emotional and physical resilience.
“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” Friedrich Nietzsche
You can handle a lot if you have a reason to dig a little deeper and figure out a solution that works for your personality type. This self awareness will help you build a career that is filled with doing tasks you enjoy. If you are doing monotonous work of course you’ll burn out. You are bored. We don’t give our full energy to boring things.
Back on Track
This is why so many people leaders get burned out. They love people, but they stopped doing the things they love so they can manage others. Most people work hard to hone their craft and then they have to stop doing it to deal with meetings and red tape. They often lose the passion and essential work balance in their day to day work.
To get yourself back on track you must figure out a way to do more of the work that you love. Just eliminating 10% of your busy work so you have space to breathe can help. It’s this space that can help you figure out where you opportunities lie too. Then you can work on adding in 10% more of the work you love to help energize you throughout the day. This is a powerful approach to preventing burnout and getting your career back on track.
Finding a routine that fits your personality is important. At the end of each day I do the Rate Your Day Routine to help me process my thoughts and emotions, so I can calibrate my energy to make the next day just a little better. Get the Rate Your Day Routine mini-guide here. What routine can you put in place to help you process your day and help make yourself a little wiser for the next day?
Have you struggled with burnout? If so, what was the cause? You can email me or tag me on Twitter.
Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash