Burnout or Balance?
Keina Ritenburgh, MSW, LICSWA, CEO & Founder of EG Career Consulting.
Sunday evening rolls around and you feel that familiar knot in your stomach…time to start mentally preparing for Monday and the week ahead. With only two days of having been away from work, waking up on a Monday (at the butt crack of dawn) seems ridiculously unfair. You grapple with the thought that this can’t possibly be your reality for the rest of your professional existence.
You arrive to work Monday morning, slow start, but…hey, you made it! Right? After a couple of cups of coffee, you are moving your way, slowly but surely, back to the productive person that you are (this is normal, by the way). You leave work that day feeling positive, accomplished and confident in your abilities. You enjoy your job, feel that it meets your needs and challenges you in all of the right ways.
So, what happens if you don’t feel positive, motivated and productive at the end of the day? Or for much of your work week...week after week?
Consider the following two scenarios:
1) Despite your usual cups of coffee (and maybe an extra cup for good measure), you cannot get rid of the dreaded, negative feelings. It’s almost like a dark black cloud is following you through your work day. Day after day, week after week, this (more often than not) seems to be the case for you. You can’t figure out how you got to this point; when feeling crummy at work became your norm. After all, when you first started your job, you were energetic, excited and eager.
2) You arrive to work on Monday morning feeling tired. This feeling is really nothing new to you as you are generally tired every day, never quite feeling rested. Thinking about work preoccupies you, even on your days off. You find yourself staying late at the office frequently, checking work emails on your off time and occasionally working on your days off. You don’t always feel that others are working as hard as you; and, feel resentful when your colleagues take vacation time off from work.
If you selected A: Consider a self-assessment for Job Burnout which could result in a temporary or longer term job change.
Job Burnout: According to the Annual Review of Psychology*, Job burnout is defined as a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job and is defined by the three dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy. Job burnout can include lacking the passion and energy that you once had in your job, taking less pride in the work that you do and being absent more often from work. Job Burnout requires a deep self-assessment—do you like the person that you are at work every day or do you want to be different?
If you selected B: Consider a Work-Life Balance self-assessment.
Work-Life Balance: The need for a Work-Life Balance can surface during moments or periods of time when you are feeling especially exhausted and “spread too thin” between the demands of home and work. Symptoms can look similar to those of job burnout but without the depth and prolonged length of time. If you really enjoy most aspects of your job, work with yourself on: setting boundaries, saying no, assessing your personal priorities and life values, exploring your personal interests, the things that bring you joy and putting yourself and the things that are important to you first.
Questions to Ask Yourself...
- Do you enjoy your job? What do you enjoy about your job?
- List those things that you do not enjoy about your job.
- On average, how many days per week do you feel unhappy in your job?
- Can you imagine yourself doing this job for the next 1-3 years? Can you imagine yourself doing this job for the next 5-10 years?
- What do you enjoy doing for fun? List those items and the last time that you did the activity.
- What would it take for you to feel happy or content in your current job? Can this be achieved in your current role and at your workplace? ]
Source: *Maslach,C., schaufeli, W.B., and Leiter, M.P, Annual Review of Psychology, V.52, 2001, PP.397-422.