Burned Out or Burning Out?

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It’s happened. The job you used to love to get up in the morning and go to has become a chore. Not an arduous chore, more like a slight nuisance. One that elicits the big, heartfelt sigh when you swing your legs over the side of the bed. Now that looking-forward-to-it feeling has been replaced by a full-socket eye roll at the reality of commuting into the city and performing many of the same tasks you performed yesterday, and the day before, and last week…before things get worse and you experience full fledged burnout, though, think about what you can do to recharge your career battery and reignite the interest that made you apply for the gig in the first place.


Are you working long hours? Has your workload increased significantly, forcing you to scramble to get things done, to stay late, to come in early or, wretch of all wretches, all of the above? If so, now might be a good time to talk to your manager about hiring some help. If you are the manager, hire some help! Or at least delegate so you can avoid going nuts.


You may need a vacation. If you can’t remember the last time you took one, you definitely need to take a break from the office. Contrary to popular belief, the IT department in your organization won’t fall into the sea if you’re not there all day every day. They got along fine before you came on board, right? And if you keel over from a work-related drama, sadly, they’ll get along fine after you’re gone.


Company changes may have brought about some anxiety. Is your organization restructuring? Are people dropping around you like flies? Are you worried that you might be next? That’s definitely something that would make you dread coming to the job, but why worry about something that hasn’t happened yet? I realize that’s easier said than done, but ultimately all you can do is control what you’re up to on a daily basis. Unless you’re the boss, you have little say in the political climate of the business, who lives, dies or gets demoted to the basement. Just make sure you’re doing everything you can do to present yourself and your work in the best light. Talk to your boss. He or she may be able to shed some light on your situation or allay your fears. If not, they should be able to commiserate. Knowing others share your feelings can be soothing. If you don’t want to risk it, polish your resume and get busy. One of the best cures for anxiety is thoughtful action.


Are your job duties boring? Have you outgrown the tasks you were originally contracted to do? Do you crave a challenge? Then it’s time to ask for a promotion or some additional responsibilities. If you’ve done your job consistently and well, I doubt the boss will quibble at giving you more work to do. Just ask.


If you actually want to look for a new job, considering that job hunting is a pain in the butt but you’re voluntarily scouting around for a better opportunity, evaluate why. Have things just started to slide recently, or has it been a gradual but notable downward progression into the career/job abyss? Is there anything you can do to fix things or avert the slide? If so, stick it out and see what you can do.


At the risk of repeating myself, it might help to talk to your immediate supervisor about your feelings. Cleverly. No bitching and complaining or denigrating the company. Focus on you, your contribution and your areas of interest. Or take a good long hard look at your organization. What can it offer you short term and long term? Are there opportunities for advancement? Are you learning a lot? Do they offer you an ideal work environment? Excellent benefits? Consider the risks of leaving before you make a move. Don’t be afraid to move, though. If you don’t want the job, get another one. Dire job market forecasts or no, if you look and look consistently, you’ll find something.

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