“Success is focusing the full power of all you are on what you have a burning desire to achieve.” ~ Wilfred Peterson
Acknowledging an international readership, some recent domestic findings: In a May 2013 ABC News National Survey, more than half of U.S. employees feel overworked, and 70% say they often dream of having a different job. 29% responded often or very often that they had no time to reflect on their work. 22% acknowledged they worked six to seven days per week and a full one-quarter of those questioned didn’t use any of their vacation time. I don’t know about you but these percentages do not surprise me.
Many Americans are subject to stress as they negotiate the demands and expectations of work, relationships, and life changes. It is easy to become overwhelmed not only by the demands but the speed of the demands on our time and energy. Both are easily depleted and without renewal of these valuable resources we can no longer respond efficiently, effectively, and willingly; this is burnout.
Situations that are structured in the following ways are those that most commonly lead to burnout.
Situation one is a chronic inability to meet the demands of a job or situation. The key is the length of time. When our skills, energy, or time do not meet the demands at first we are motivated and challenged. However, if the gap between what we can give continues without a change in the demands or an improvement in our responses, burnout begins to develop.
- Situation two is quite similar to the first one in that old skills, strategies, and decision-making no longer work. You know these: the promotion, the new competitors, the growth of the business or relationship… they can all elevate the demands. We keep applying our old approaches believing they will work because they have worked in the past. When they don’t work, our frustration and fear of failure increases as our effectiveness decreases.
- Situation three is the result of changes or growth that occurs within us. We have acquired new information, learned new skills and strategies, or made a big change. Our ability to respond to demands or challenges is greater than what is now required in situations. The result is staleness, boredom, and potential burnout. Unless the challenges are elevated to meet our new level of competence we will lose interest and look for something new.
No matter how burnout occurs it is avoidable. Personal growth, increased challenges, and reduction of stress responses are useful preventives. Keeping our stores of energy and flexibility of time is helpful in recovering from situational challenges. Constant evaluation of our life’s choices can also keep us moving forward.
It is also important to choose work and play that are compatible with our values, needs, and personal gifts. Our work should bring out our passion and motivate us because we choose to do it rather than have to do it. (From a previous post, you know how I feel about “have to.”) Further, if choices are being made for money and the acquisition of material “stuff” we will not make choices that have long-term value.
Burnout is often our body, mind, and spirit’s way of getting our attention that energy, time demands, and rewards are out of balance. When burnout finally occurs it is paralyzing and frustrating at the same time. Knowing the situations preceding burnout and taking actions to prevent it, will go a long way in keeping it from happening and causing permanent damage to our well-being.
This is about being aware, your health, and your ability to retain balance. Are your proactively addressing burnout potential?