Everyone has moments when they say to themselves, “I can’t do this job anymore.” Maybe the workload has become crushing, or perhaps boredom has set in. A demanding boss, irritating co-workers, lack of recognition, or technology overload can make you want to throw in the towel from time to time. Sometimes, the remedy for career burnout is as simple as taking a vacation. On the other end of the spectrum, a job or career change might be in order.
Signs that you might be teetering on the edge of burnout include:
- Fatigue or exhaustion
- A chronic sense of dissatisfaction
- Lack of interest in projects that would have once inspired you
- Feeling resentful and frustrated frequently
- Procrastinating or avoiding making decisions
- Using food or alcohol inappropriately
- Dreading Mondays
If you’re nodding your head and thinking, “Sounds like me,” here are a few ideas to consider to turn the situation around:
- Schedule a real vacation (i.e., not just a four-day weekend).
- Reduce your work week by four or eight hours, either temporarily or permanently.
- Spend time in another department. If you work in the front office, ask to be cross-trained one day a week as a clinical assistant.
- Learn something new that has the potential to enhance your career such as new computer skills, advanced cardiac life support, medical Spanish, phlebotomy, or accounting.
- Become absorbed in something new outside of work. Train to run in a marathon, start working on that novel or screenplay you’ve been thinking about, learn how to quilt, take an art class, or volunteer for a significant role in an organization you care deeply about.
- Learn to set boundaries and say “no.” Before adding anything new to your plate (even something social), imagine how you’ll feel seeing it on your schedule.
- Practice good self-care. Begin a program of healthy eating and regular exercise, take time to do something for yourself every day, get adequate sleep, and take steps to reduce stress (e.g., meditation, yoga, journaling, spending time in nature or with your pet).
- Keep things in perspective. When you’re feeling burned out, little problems can feel huge. If you feel annoyed or frustrated, ask yourself, “Will I even remember this a week from now?” If you take these and other intentional steps to thwart burnout and symptoms persist, consider speaking with a therapist about the possibility that you’re actually experiencing depression or a related problem. Or, work with a life or career coach for additional support to get out of the doldrums and/or start making plans for a career transition. Life is too short to be miserable at work. Take action now if you’re feeling burned out. It’s up to you to make the changes necessary to feel better and enjoy working again.