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Career Burnout is Real, and Preventable

Yellow background with row of matches, some that are burned out.

I admit, I’ve started to feel some of the effects of career burnout. Since the onset of the pandemic, my job hasn’t been “normal.” I’m sure that’s true for many of you. There have been a lot of changes! And, I’ve seen hints of career burnout creeping into my head.

Do you feel a little burned out? If so, here are some suggestions to beat it.

Recognize signs and symptoms of burnout

Burnout is preventable. But the first step is recognizing the early phases of burnout and getting help before it’s full-blown. There are 5 stages of burnout.

  1. Honeymoon: Stress doesn’t start after years on the job. Taking on a new job or a new venture is usually stressful. In this phase, we need to develop some positive coping strategies.
  2. Onset of stress: Some days are just not “good days.” Here, your optimism decreases while your emotional stress starts to manifest itself in physical symptoms.
  3. Chronic stress: There are very few “good days,” and the symptoms that happened earlier are now more dramatic and more sustained.
  4. Burnout: Here the bad days have a depth and breadth worse than before. Pessimism, obsession over the problems, self-doubt, and social isolation are evident. You crave a complete escape from the situation.
  5. Habitual burnout: Now, the burnout has taken on a life of its own. Those experiencing it have probably been diagnosed with chronic fatigue, chronic sadness, and documented depression.

If you find yourself in one of those stages, get help before you have career burnout. You might need psychotherapy or coaching. Maybe you just need to get a week off; putting your brain in neutral instead of overdrive can be a near miracle for jump-starting your battery.

Think about options

I spoke with a woman who was experiencing some severe career burnout. She was struggling with the decision to continue working at the hospital or leave. I reminded her that we seldom need to make a decision that is dichotomous.

Instead, we can think about options. Here are just a few:

  • Is working part-time an option?
  • Is it possible to stay with the same employer but change your specialty or your department? (Consider all of your job options.)
  • Could you do a similar job in a different setting?

Increase your self-awareness

A study that conducted by Cornell University showed that the best predictor of success among leaders is self-awareness. Hence, if you’re a manager, a director, or the owner of a private practice, listen up.

Even if you’re not a leader, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that self-awareness could be lighting you up or burning you down.

A recent study showed that professionals experience career burnout around age 32. I wasn’t surprised by that.

When I was in my early 30s, I nearly burned out in a high-level nursing administration job. I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator™ (MBTI™) and came to a major realization. Myers and Briggs helped me to realize  I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Then, I read their book Gifts Differing, got certified to administer the MBTI, left the job, and lived happily ever after!

I’ve also taken the CliftonStrengths and the iEQ9 Enneagram Test. Both are great ways to play to your strengths, find out what lights your fire, and what burns you out.

Look for resources

If you’re feeling like you have career burnout, get help.

Here are books you might like.

Decrease your anxiety and stress. I’ve given several suggestions about meditation, hypnosis, imagery, and more. If you’re lacking motivation — a common symptom of burnout — use positive affirmations, including the ThinkUp app.

Hire a coach or a therapist (or both!) I’m currently offering coaching services for anyone who is looking to catapult their career to the next level. Contact me at the office by emailing or by calling 703-787-9894.

Here are my take-home messages: Burnout is real, self-awareness paves the road to success, and you don’t have to go it alone. Get help.

Have you suffered from career burnout? How have you managed with it? Share in the comments below!

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