"I need a break!"
Have you been considering a career change or at least a job change due to burnout? Does this sound familiar?
I’m too stressed, too exhausted, I don’t have any passions/interests. I just want outta this job!
When we’re very stressed out, burned out and overwhelmed we are unable to see the forest through the trees. It’s common to be thinking, “I need a break, I need to go on a vacation, or I just need to sleep. I can’t possibly imagine what to do next in my career, but I want a career change!” When you’re burned out or exhausted it is very difficult to see objectively what changes need to be made to have a more satisfying career. Furthermore, making the necessary changes in your career often requires creative problem solving, which is difficult to access when we’re stressed and burned out. What you might REALLY need at this point is a break. Yes, I understand you probably just can’t quit your job. So, the focus becomes how can I begin to take care of my immediate needs, one step at a time?
Consider how you’re feeling at this point in your career and ask yourself what would be helpful for you right now (that is within your control and does not require major effort). Here are some examples to consider:
- If you answered, “I just want to sleep!” Ask yourself, how can I add 15 more minutes of sleep to my schedule each day? Do you need to turn off the TV earlier, say no to someone or something?
- If you answered, “I don’t have enough time!” Ask yourself, what then am I currently making time for? What would I rather make 5-15 minutes for each day? If this seems difficult, ask yourself what am I gaining by making time for the things I currently have in my day (i.e., recognition at work, avoiding the discomfort of change, pleasing others). Ask yourself, “What am I giving up by doing this?”
- If you answered, “I don’t have any passions!” This is a common way to feel when one is burned out and thus disengaged. Most likely, you haven’t lost your passion and interests, you’re just burned out. What is needed is more rest and engaging in activities that restore your physical and emotional balance. Once you’ve recovered from the burned out state, interests may begin to resurface. You might also feel you have no passions if you haven’t explored many of them throughout your life perhaps due to pursuing your career or family obligations.
Keep in mind that disconnecting does not help you recharge a burned out state. You can be aware that you’re disconnected when you’re engaging in some activity “too much”. For example, many people think, “I deserve to watch TV tonight I’ve worked so hard today.” However, what happens is that it can become a disconnecting activity when done in excess and not recharge or refuel the burned out state.
Ask yourself whether being too stressed or exhausted or not having enough time is a pattern in your life. It might be that for right now, what is needed is not a career change, but a mindset change. Once you remove the obstacles of boundaries, meeting other’s needs vs. your own, etc. then you can begin to evaluate things on a deeper level.
Activities that can help you restore physical and emotional balance:
1. Exercise/movement. Something fun, light and easy such as dancing around the house while cleaning, or going for a short walk after dinner. Don’t make this a task, start with 5 minutes only.
2. Eating a balanced diet. Try to replace processed foods with whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains as much as you can. Don’t worry about starting something new. “Ask yourself how can I add 1 thing to my daily diet? For example, having a bag of nuts for a snack, or buying a bag of fruit with a longer shelf life next time you’re at the store.
3. Spiritual practice. This can include anything that connects you with things greater than yourself. This can include connecting with nature, animals, children, and the elderly. Or it can be a religious community.
4. Identify and acknowledge your emotions as they surface. Don’t miss this one! Although it sounds counter-intuitive, acknowledging your emotions as they surface will actually help relieve them.
5. Connect with others: Even though you might not have time, try just 5 minutes of connection with family or friends who support you. Try to stay away from people who have a negative attitude.
6. Have compassion for yourself! No matter how frustrated or exhausted you might feel it’s important to stay in a place of compassion and understanding with yourself. You’re working hard; you’re doing the best you can for right now. Give yourself the care and support you need through compassionate words.
7. Explore other interests. Read books, surf online, (http://online.onetcenter.org is a great resource for exploring careers), or journal. Journal three minutes per day the thoughts you have about your career, whether you write about your dreams and aspirations, or just thoughts and ideas that pop into your head. This can be a great place to start keeping track of things so you’ll have a starting place when you’re ready to make a career change.
If the overwhelm or exhaustion feels too much, you should strongly consider seeing a professional who can help. You may be struggling with an emotional or medical issue such as depression or hormonal imbalance (i.e., thyroid).
Once you find a way to create some space in your life to alleviate burnout, you’ll have more room for the creative and problem solving process in your career. This way your next career move will be purposeful.
For help with finding or changing a career, join us for an 8-week online career coaching group, “Create Your Inspired Career” starting April 28th. Click here to find out more.
Rachel Eddins is a Therapist and Career Counselor in Houston, TX. Rachel helps people find their inner worth, overcome emotional and food related issues and find meaning and purpose in both life and career. She is available for online therapy as well as in person sessions in Houston.