Browsing articles in "Stress"
Apr 15, 2011

Escaping Burnout

To anyone who has ever gone through it (or lived with someone going through it), burnout is never easy to deal with, especially when so many sources in our society encourage pushing through to achieve success. Although there is a lot to be said for persistence and perseverance in times of struggle, burnout is a special exception. To me, symptoms of burnout point to larger issues at play, and there is no need to suffer in vein.

In the simplest sense, burnout is a conflict of effort and priorities. That is, if you spend 80% of your time and effort on things that are not really a priority to you (and ignore the things that really are), something will have to give at some point. From another point of view, burnout can be described as spending a disproportionate amount of time on things that are energy draining to you than on things that are energy replenishing (or creating).

To be clear, I define burnout as a prolonged sense of emptiness and exhaustion. For professional types especially, the trends of increasing work hours, increased expectations of productivity, and simply having to create more with fewer and fewer resources builds an environment where burnout is not only possible, but often probable. To the burned-out person, overwhelming feelings that they have had their heart and soul strip-mined are all too common. Although this is an intensely painful and stressful situation to deal with, it can be rectified. Continue reading »

Apr 2, 2011

Key to Business Success: Love the Work You Do

Most of the people I know who are unusually successful in their field have a unique trait in common. They love the work they are doing. To them, collecting a big paycheck (or nearly any paycheck at all, for that matter), is simply icing on the cake. Every day is like a mini-vacation, and work has ceased to have the four-letter definition most of us have for it. To these people, the work they do has such a strong personal draw to it that they would do it for free, if need be.

I work with a lot of small business owners and budding entrepreneurs, and this trend sticks with this group too. Often, one of my first questions to this type of client is why they want to start the business they have in mind. If the answer is “I want to be my own boss.”, or “I want to make a lot of money.” I will often advise them to go back to the drawing board to find a business concept with more gravitas for them. Often, people find that working for themselves means they will be working for the most demanding boss (themselves) they have ever experienced. And, when the money isn’t freely flowing in, as is often true for startups for significant amounts of time, what motivation to keep moving forward will they have then? Continue reading »

Mar 22, 2011

Key to Success: Find the Work You Love

Making the decision to do something different with your life, to make a wholesale change in career can be one of the biggest decisions someone makes (often more than once) on their lifetime. Often, the first question that springs to mind is “What do I really want to do?” Nearly as often, though, this question cannot be answered by a knee-jerk decision. Given that most of us “working stiffs” spend the majority of our lives at work (not to mention thinking about work), truly finding your calling can take a lot of time, introspective work, and patience. There are a few things you can do, though, which will greatly increase the odds of finding the “fit” you have been looking for.

All too often, career changes occur as an eruption of pent-up frustration, sort of an “I am mad as hell, and I am not going to take it anymore” sort of syndrome. However, making a major life change in order to get away from the work you do not want is simply a short-term band-aid for a bigger problem.

Many people simply get so frustrated with their current job that only a nuclear bomb sort of change feels satisfying. Again, though, making choices fed out of desperation will not yield long term satisfaction. Making a choice to do something simply because it is the polar opposite of what you do now is not a terribly clear framework to go on. This is one situation where “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is not a terribly useful strategy for finding one’s calling. Continue reading »