Can you relate to the following scenario? You once approached your work in a dedicated, passionate and enthusiastic way. You were eager and excited about your responsibilities. While you were aware that there are built-in frustrations in your work with coworkers, clientele, or the system itself, you felt that you were making an important contribution to your organization and/or field. But gradually, you’ve begun to feel a sense of stagnation. This has slowly led to feelings of apathy, to the point that it’s become difficult even to feel motivated anymore. But since it’s not in your nature to give up or stop trying, your apathy causes an internal conflict that brings upon feelings of cynicism, depression, hopelessness and low self esteem related to your job, career or profession. If this description resonates with you, it’s likely you are experiencing job burnout.
It’s important to realize that not just anyone experiences burnout. To get burned out, you must first have been “on fire.” People who go to work just to get a paycheck are rarely the ones who get burned out. It’s those who once connected with their work from a place of passion but are now no longer intrinsically motivated at work that generally experience the pain of burnout. Burnout can be a great signal that something needs to change.
Here are three tips to get your job burnout under control, to reconnect with your passion and restore your positive attitude about work:
Stop devaluing yourself
Burnout can occur when you’re not feeling valued by others but even more often occurs when as a result you devalue yourself. Take a few minutes to jot down the reasons you entered your field in the first place. Who are you really committed to serving? Also write down how your current role makes an impact, whether on other coworkers, clients, students, your family, or other people in your life. Sometimes to feel like you’re pressing the reset button, you just need to take a step back, remind yourself of your contributions — big or small — and recommit to the mission you chose for yourself. Often trying to please the “powers that be” and getting hung up on their approval makes you to lose that perspective.
Take back control
Almost every job has a variety of characteristics that are not your choice. These factors may include hours, bosses, coworkers, certain aspects of those you serve or the salary. But there are also factors you do have control over that you may not be taking ownership of when feeling burnt out. For example, if there are certain tasks that are more enjoyable for you than others, maybe you can focus on job tasks that emphasize your strengths and delegate those tasks that do not fit as well with your preferences. If there is a specific aspect of your job that you can identify as being something that once fulfilled you but no longer does, perhaps there are changes that can be made to reactivate this element of your job. But even if these things are not possible, you can refuse to let negativity control this important part of your life. And then switch to problem solving mode. The problem: How do I restore that crucial passion I once felt for my work?
Consider a change
If you’re truly powerless to change circumstances at work, a career or job change may be in order to bring you back to your zone of passion. My book, Stage Climbing: The Shortest Path to Your Highest Potential, is resource to help you find a career that will quickly reignite your passion. As a bonus, I have seen with many people who have consulted me, that when your work coincides with your passion, financial success follows — often effortlessly.
The longer you wait to address your job burnout, the more likely it is that your apathy will spread to other areas of your life, including your relationships and even hobbies. So if you’re experiencing burnout, nip it in the bud, quickly!
About the Author
Michael S. Broder, Ph.D. is a renowned psychologist, executive coach, bestselling author, popular seminar leader, and media personality. He is an acclaimed expert in cognitive behavioral therapy, specializing in high achievers and relationship issues.