Burnout

Are You Drowning in the Sea of Burnout?

Are You Drowning in the Sea of Burnout?

I recently had coffee with a friend after he returned from vacation.

“It was the first time in 10 years I left my work phone at home,” he said.

I can relate.

After two long careers, plus two businesses, it was non-stop. I was always in hyperdrive. High-speed / Lo-drag. It’s just the way I’m wired. My de facto operating system which drives me to…I dunno, success? To climb to the top of the pile wherever I’m at? To be first in whatever?

It’s complicated. I’m not a psychiatrist. There are a lot of what goes on inside of us. From birth, there’s a lot of different experiences that make us who and what we are.

In 25 years, I took a grand total of 3 vacations! One of which was a working vacation.

I was that guy that had to have a phone connected with me 24/7. Then, check my work email on days off, nights off, on call on my weekends, and was never able to disengage from work.

Today, we’re so interconnected to work, it’s as if there’s this seamless operation when we turn on any electronic component. We can video conference from our watch these days!

Why do we feel such a compulsion to be so connected?

Why do we feel we need to have push notifications enabled such that the moment someone posts a facebook post, to our boss sending another work email, that we have to get that sent to us right now!?

It’s complicated.

We feel this internal pressure like we’re missing out.

Then there’s the cultural angle of our jobs.

You know, the unwritten policy that you should be connected 24/7 because when the boss sends forth a command, everyone shall jump, or at least be in the know by the time Monday rolls around; for if not, then the sideways glances, raised eyebrows, and the underhanded demeaning and cutting remarks will certainly issue forth from fellow employees if not from the insensitive and insecure boss.

Anyways…

All this connection, push notifications, and simple lack of having any downtime or just time to ourselves, creates the perfect environment for burnout.

I could hand you stats and scientific data on burnout, but I don’t need to…I’ve lived it, trust me, it’s just a matter of time.

The more connected to work, the less connected you’ll be with loved ones, your significant other, and yourself.

Yes, yourself. You won’t be in tune with who you are or what your core values are or passions are.

Why?

Because when you’re on the short leash of someone else’s bidding, you don’t have time for anything else. The time you do have will be like handing a child the spare change you carry around, in other words, not the quality time you need to give yourself, and the relationships that are important.

Then?

You feel numb and hate going to work.

Your love dries up.

You’re tired all the stinking time.

What used to be a passion feels like drudgery.

You finally take time off, and it takes 3 damn days to feel normal again IF there’s any remembrance what normal feels like.

In my last career, smack dab in the middle of insane burnout, I was a machine. I felt nothing.

I didn’t have hobbies. I didn’t want hobbies. I worked non-stop, and there was no other reward.

Why? There was a lot of whys that went into it, but ultimately I had no hope of changing for fear of not being able to make it financially doing something else and loss of prestige and it was the life I knew, stuck! So changing anything was foreign.

But, I came across an article in 2012 that changed my life…at least one of the many things that made me stop and think about changing my life.

It was written by Bonnie Ware, entitled Regrets of the Dying. She took her experiences of dealing with terminally ill patients and wrote down the top five regrets of those about to die. It’s a short read. I encourage you to check it out.

I printed out a copy of that article and carried it with me every day for several years until made the leap.

Here are a few thoughts I’d like to leave with you that might help you regain your sanity and at the very least, point you in the direction of changing things up to revive love, passion, and fulfillment…

  • Turn off the push notifications. Unless there’s a written policy commanding that you need to be plugged in, then don’t be. If so, make sure you get compensated for your time.
  • Check your work email at work, and Only while you’re on the clock.
  • Take more breaks during the day. Yesterday, I dealt with poor writing, stressful situation of a website going down, deadline looming, and what did I do in the middle of it all? I grabbed my basketball and walked to a nearby outdoor court and played for 30 minutes. I could care less what the boss thinks.
  • Speaking of caring less…re-prioritize what you DO care about, and focus on those things, instead of an organization that is using you like you’re some cheap quart of oil, draining your lifeblood to keep the machinery clunking away.
  • Meditate. First thing in the morning, give yourself some quiet time. No, this isn’t a spiritual treatise, it’s a suggestion to give yourself space and a peaceful time to help you refocus on what you value, what your passions are, and…what and who you are. When it’s really stressful, I’ll do this a few times a day, and it doesn’t require a lot of time, just a few moments will help.
  • Play. Get out and play. Not behind a computer screen, but get outside, move, do something fun like when you were a kid. Ride a bike. Go hiking. Just go and get out…without your phone in the back pocket!

These aren’t conclusive items, just a few things I wish I’d done more of, at least just done.

Oh, and take more time to get away. Leave for the day and turn the phone off and give yourself time to enjoy life again.


Photo by Ian Espinosa

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Burnout, Living Better, Reinvention, Self-Improvement