They're subtle. And the truth is we give in to these things more than we realize. If you take the time
#1 Unrealistic Expectations
These come from two sources. The first is from ourselves. When we start a new job or are really pushing ourselves to hit the next promotion, we tend to pile on way more than we can handle. This will work for a little while, but every car stops when the gas tank is empty. Often this shows up in saying, “Yes” to commitments before evaluating whether or not those obligations help us toward our goals.
Secondly, we can receive unrealistic expectations from others. Chaotic work environments tend to pile on the work on the shoulders of a few. And if you’re a high-achiever, you could be easy prey. If coworkers or employers have no problem filling your schedule without any consideration for PTO, consider this a red flag.
Block off time to list all the tasks, projects, and responsibilities you do. Compare these to the responsibilities your job actually required. From these, make a list of things that have to be done today in order to fulfill those requirements. Next time the boss asks for another task outside of these priorities, politely ask him or her to CHOOSE which was more important: their one task or your list of priorities.
Boss: “Would you mind going through these boxes of client financial docs, uploading the info, and storing them in the vault?”
Response: “Sure, I could do that. Here is a list of what I had planned for this week/day. Do you want me to postpone any of these to make time for this new project?”
#2 Lack of Fulfillment
“I thought this was my dream job, but after a few months it was far from it.” Comments like this come up frequently in career development. Fizzled passion arises from a conflict between where we are now and where we want to be. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, but left unresolved it can poison your work energy.
Fulfilling careers are not always the most lucrative pursuits, though a lot of money can be made. Instead it’s being part of a team, company, or organization you believe in and want to succeed.
Get concrete on knowing what fulfillment means to you. It isn’t a job, a place you live, or even a dollar amount you receive. It’s a set of values that define who you are and what makes life feel... well.. alive! If you’re unsure about what exactly those values are, then it will be very easy to feel burnt out. I walk clients through a super fun yet insightful exercise about discovering Life Purpose and exploring that purpose in our line of work.
#3 Priority Shifts
This goes hand-in-hand with fulfillment. Our values reveal how we feel fulfilled. Priorities are the commitments we make to bring our values into reality. One possible reason you’re feeling burnt out is because you have a commitment that’s not aligned with your priorities. This may not necessarily be the commitment’s fault, but because of a thought or belief that’s creating dissonance. Do you really know what you’re wanting out of your career? When did you last give significant time to refine or define what’s most important to you? Priorities change as life changes. Often we burnout because we’re spinning our wheels but aren’t really getting anywhere.
Take inventory of all the hats you wear — in work and in life. If you’re clear on your values, you can use them as guides. Scan over your list to see what commitments are not resonating with your values. From there you can brainstorm a list of things to stop or start that will eliminate the dissonance. Choose 1-3 actions from your brainstormed list to try out over the next few weeks. Check in with yourself to see if something should be tweaked or changed altogether.
I sincerely hope these three suggestions can help you get out of the burnout. But this is by no means exhaustive. I would love to hear what you’ve discovered that can lead to burnout, as well as suggestions to escape it. Comment them below!
If you’re wanting to go deeper to discover the underlying beliefs that are keeping you in the burnout cycle, let's connect. Together we can create an Action Plan that can bring immediate relief and long-term fulfillment.