How do you know if you’re burning out in your career?
Several times in my own career, and for one time in particular that lasted over 9 months, I have experienced a perfect storm burnout. “How do you know if you’re burning out in your career?” is one of the most common questions I’m asked as a career coach. In fact, it’s the subject of my self-discovery book, Finding Passion.
I’ve researched what people say are holding them back, recounted my own personal stories, client stories, and collected the 10 most common signs that confirm you’re burning out and what you can do about it now.
Do these 10 signs resonate with you?
- There’s a new sense of overwhelm, and it shatters your usual confident Self. Your world feels elevated, animated and intense. When you think about it not much externally has changed, but something inside of you is impacted by consistent feelings of overwhelm.
- You start dropping the ball. You notice that you’re having difficulty keeping up at work, and this has never happened like this before. You may feel like you’re not functioning, or you can’t keep up. One client described it as “it’s like the two hemispheres of my brain disconnected and I couldn’t even do the most basic task without being confused.”
- Sundays are actually worse than Mondays. You work extremely hard all week. Saturday comes and you decompress or sleep. Sunday comes, and instead of enjoying the last bits of weekend, you dread the workweek. You can’t stop thinking about how bad it will be on Monday.
- You feel broken. You blame yourself for this funk that you’re in. You wonder if you’ve messed up, you’ve lost your strengths or your value at work. No matter what you try to get back into the right mindset at work, you feel broken.
- You’re so exhausted and sleepy. You might be reaching for extra caffeine each day. You work extremely long hours, putting work before your own health and family time. When you do get home after a full day, there’s nothing left of you. The tank is below “E.” You resign to the fact that you’ll do it all over again tomorrow.
- You don’t recognize the person in the mirror anymore. When you do look in the mirror, you see a stranger before you, but you also don’t recognize the life that you’re living. What’s going on?
- You really cope with stress. You find ways to cope with stress like always having a big latte in the morning, and a big glass of wine at night. You tell yourself that you deserve this after the day you’ve had. The behavior is addictive, and it gives you little comfort but is better than nothing.
- Your body is speaking to you. You might be gaining weight. Your dreams are wildly vivid where coworkers show up and projects enter your subconscious mind. You experience everything from back pain to red-eye to nausea and seem to get sick more often.
- Lately, you can’t make any decisions without second-guessing yourself. You usually are able to make decisions about your life and career. Lately though, that’s shifted. You feel like things are spinning and you procrastinate decisions for as long as you can. You’re unable to evaluate options or make any choice forward. You’re in limbo.
- You can’t focus. You’re not living in the present nor in the future. Your plans easily become undone. It’s as if your own mind is distracting you from your goals. You’re reaching a tipping point, and you’re afraid crazy is coming next.
What’s so hard about burnout is that not so long ago, the same job and the same conditions may have been exactly what you wanted. You worked hard to reach this point in your career. It worked before, so why doesn’t it work now?
Just because I’m good at my job, doesn’t mean my job is good for me.
What might be missing is the fulfillment the work gives you. No matter how hard you work and get rewarded, sometimes there’s just a larger meaning to your work that truly represents ultimate success and achievement.
Had I not gone through these same experiences so intensely, I would still be in my corporate position, feeling miserable and wondering why I was working my life away for someone else’s dream.
I realized that just because I’m good at my job, doesn’t mean my job is good for me.
If these symptoms resonate with what you’re experiencing now, take a deep breath. You are not alone. This new idea that you’re burning out is a good realization because soon you’ll be on the other side of this.
Here are some simple actions you can choose to take:
- Admit it. Get honest with your feelings. Record it, play it back and listen to what’s happening to you. What advice would you give someone experiencing what you’re going through?
- Slow down. Take some necessary time off for your self-care, sleep and health. Unplug, take sick or vacation days. Hit “pause.” Be kind to yourself and recover from the emotional and physical stress you’ve been tolerating. The down time can support your next steps and ability to think more clearly.
- Get relief. Make a commitment to yourself to change. You might want to change your job, your career, your approach, your balance or your priorities. Whatever that change is you want, really consider what’s possible if you let go of what’s not working in your life and surrender to what you really want.
Are you working to fulfill someone else’s dream? What about your dreams?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a PDF copy of this blog post or to discuss your career questions confidentially and privately.
Want a simple process to help you overcome burnout?
Learn more in my book, “Finding Passion: A Self-Discovery Approach for Navigating Career Crossroads.” Available on Amazon.
© 2015 Managing Mindspaces. All rights reserved.