Five ways to prevent a career burnout
Through self-compassion, you can withstand the most difficult challenges because you are willing to forgive yourself for mistakes.
We spend the majority of our waking hours working. Work is a huge component of our lives. Being employed in a career that allows for growth, autonomy, creativity, purpose, and satisfaction is something that everyone should strive to attain. But it can sometimes be difficult to find the job we love that allows us to become self-actualised. This difficulty arises for many reasons. We may lack confidence in our abilities, have self-imposed or societal limitations we are struggling against, or we may not have done enough self-reflection to know ourselves well. We may let popular society define our goals instead of defining it for ourselves. In our twenties, when the majority of us are starting our careers, we barely know ourselves and are trying to fit in. Because of this, we pursue careers that may not be the right fit for us because it's possible we do not know where our passions and strengths lie. We then settle for jobs that do not allow us to grow and do not provide a sense of purpose.
What is burnout?
Burnout was recently classified as an "occupational phenomenon" by the World Health Organization. The WHO characterises it by the following dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism and negative feelings towards the job, and a reduction in one's ability to produce results. Burnout is a complex phenomenon. It tends to affect overachievers and the most idealistic people the hardest. Some of us go into professions with high ideals only to realise that our ideals do not match what the job requires from us. On top of this, we may also work long hours at high levels of stress without a sense of reward. With WHO now focusing on a constellation of symptoms to describe what happens to workers who are burning out, I believe we need to look for deeper reasons as to why burnout occurs and what we can do to prevent it.
When we have a job we are passionate about, we can undergo large amounts of pressure without the negativity that can accompany stressful situations. When we feel aligned with our job responsibilities, we are not resisting the work itself. We strive to give it 100 per cent with our best intentions and pour excellence into all the work we produce. We're willing to go the extra mile because we love what we're doing. We excel in our job because we are flowing in it.
When we have a job we are not passionate about, work stress may feel like a weight sinking us into the ground. We may struggle with even the easiest of tasks and dread coming to work in the morning. We may feel that we're trapped in a job that does not provide us joy.
Here are several tips that can help you conquer burnout or prevent it:
· Stay True to Yourself: For those idealists who find themselves in difficult professions with high burnout rates, my advice to you is to keep your ideals, uphold your values, and stay true to who you are. Being connected to your authentic self is much more important than bending your values to fit a job that is not providing you joy. There is a career or company out there that is seeking your idealism, just as much as you've been seeking it. Do the work to find it and you will.
· Self-Care is required: Sometimes people feel burnt out because they've fallen into the high- pressure hustle culture. Hard work offers exceptional rewards, but taking care of your own emotional needs is just as critical. Vacations are sometimes necessary to be able to decompress and revive.
· Surrender: Despite the expectations you have for your career, there are many things you cannot control. Surrendering allows you to accept a future that may bring something far beyond your expectations.
· Self-compassion: Through self-compassion, you can withstand the most difficult challenges because you are willing to forgive yourself for mistakes. Treat yourself the way you'd treat those you love.
· Upskilling and reskilling: If you find yourself in a low wage job that has a high burnout rate, you do not have to accept these jobs as your fate. If you're working in a toxic, abusive environment, recognise that you deserve better and take responsibility.
Himanshu 'Sue' Bhatia is the founder of Rose International