Strategies for Overcoming Burnout - Part 4 of 4

personal growth professional development Sep 23, 2014

In my previous blogs we talked about the causes and symptoms of burnout, the importance of thinking differently and some ideas to revitalize your life to help break the burnout cycle.

In this final blog we will talk about Strategy#3: Recommit.

You may wonder why I would suggest recommitment so soon after your initial efforts to break the cycles that cause burnout. The reality is that it took awhile for you to get to that broken-down state of body and mind, and it’s difficult to make a full recovery. As you gain insight and make a little progress toward re-balancing your life, it will still be easy to become discouraged when it seems to take so long.

So, as you recommit to the process, here are some things to consider:

Career assessment – If you feel you are at a crossroads or a breaking point because you’re so burned out you’ve lost motivation and enthusiasm, it may be time to decide if you are doing what you really want to be doing.  Talk with people who know you and to professionals who may be able to give you their insights related to your current frustrations and the potentially self-defeating beliefs that are driving you. They can help you decide if you’re in the right situation and just need some balance and rest, or if you are spending your time and energy on a job that isn’t fulfilling or meaningful to you.

Coaching or Counseling – Sometimes the best step toward a cure for burnout is to enlist the services of a professional coach or counselor.  A trained coach will be able to help you assess your interests, abilities, and experience and offer an objective perspective that will help you get from where you are now to a better place.  A goal-oriented, supportive ally in your battle against burnout, a coach can employ proven strategies to give you new direction and new enthusiasm for your career, whether it involves improving your current situation or steering you toward a more suitable one.  If you realize that your problems are more personal in nature, a counselor can become a lifeline to pull you out of self-defeating thoughts and behaviors. If addictions, obsessions, depression, anger, perfectionism, or discouragement are overwhelming you, don’t wait to connect with a counselor.  Both counseling and coaching can give you guidance toward overcoming the circumstances that are creating your burnout.

Change positions within the organization – If you’re in a career of interest to you, but you’re still burned out, maybe you’re in the right business but the wrong position. A prime example would be a dynamic lead mechanic or technician being “rewarded” for his great work by being promoted to management, where he is responsible for managing people and paperwork – and hating it. Look at your employer and the different functions being performed to run the company and determine if your area of responsibility lines up with what you like to do. You and your employer will both benefit if you are working in an area of your strengths and preferences. Talk to your supervisor or Human Resources representative to see what options are available for realignment of tasks and/or responsibilities.

Take on new and challenging responsibilities within the organization – Boredom is a killer of job satisfaction and can lead to that “hamster on a wheel” sense of being trapped in an endless and pointless function. That will put you in the fast lane toward burnout.  Look for ways to go outside your normal routine. If you have ideas for cost-saving measures or improvements in efficiency, make a proposal to the management asking for the opportunity to initiate some improvements.  Or watch for other opportunities to take on challenges that may add interest to your daily routine, whether it’s organizing an employee picnic, developing a flow chart for production, volunteering to train or mentor newer staff or revamping safety or procedure manuals. A fresh challenge can revitalize your interest in your work and minimize the drudgery.

Clarify goals and expectations with your supervisor – One complaint from many employees is that they are frustrated because when they do what they think they’re supposed to be doing, they continue to receive criticism for their performance. The main cause for this is a lack of clear direction and poor communication regarding what exactly is expected and what deadlines are necessary. An employee who knows what the target is has a much better likelihood of hitting it, and no one functions well when every effort seems to miss the mark. If you are sensing that you “just can’t please the boss” you will start your day discouraged and probably end your day feeling angry and hopeless. If this situation is contributing to your burnout, request a meeting with your supervisor and ask for clear goals and expectations so you can successfully meet the company’s needs and experience a greater level of satisfaction.

Consider a career change – If efforts to bring your life into balance have not relieved your burnout, it could be time for a radical change.  Factor in your temperament – would you rather work with people or behind the scenes?  Do you need a job that allows you to move around or are you contented with an office position?  Are you working a shift that makes the most of your peak waking hours and allows you to sleep when your body is ready to rest?  Is there a career field that seems interesting or exciting to you?  These and other considerations will give you a starting point for addressing burnout in your life.

Sometimes the answer to addressing burnout is simple – take better care of your health, get a babysitter one night a week and enjoy a night out, or give yourself permission to participate in an activity you enjoy.  Other times the issues run deeper and may require the assistance of friends, family, your pastor, a counselor or a coach. The important thing to keep in mind is that, while no one can avoid stress completely, there are measures you can take when you feel as though you are chronically overloaded and stuck in a state of burnout. So before you give up and head to a deserted island, step back and look objectively at all the factors that may be contributing to your burnout and take the initiative in finding ways to address it.  You do have choices and the power to effect change if you just take the first step.

If you struggle with over-commitment and finding time for yourself and the things you enjoy I highly recommend that you read the book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson.

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd

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