Proactive Tips for a Burnout-Proof Career
These days, it may feel like burnout is inevitable. Meeting the myriad of competing expectations while adjusting to the corporate “new normal” can be overwhelming, especially for young professionals. Burnout occurs when these ongoing stresses leave you depleted, exhausted, and with nothing left to give, and leads to negative impacts on both your personal and professional life.
Luckily, there are proactive steps you can take on your journey to ensure your path is sustainable. Here are some strategies to help you build a burnout-proof career.
Strategies for Avoiding Burnout
Take stock of what you really want– It doesn’t matter how many career milestones you achieve, they’re unlikely to be fulfilling if they aren’t goals you authentically aspire to. We are taught that ambition is good (and it is!), but you need to be honest about what that means to you. If your dream is to climb to the top of the corporate ladder, that’s great, but if your goals look different, that’s great, too. Defining success on your own terms will help you avoid the stress of relentlessly pursuing goals you aren’t passionate about.
Establish boundaries– You can’t “balance” something by lumping it all together. That’s why it is crucial to establish clear boundaries between your work and home life. Even when you enjoy your work, letting it eclipse the rest of your existence is bound to lead to resentment. Turn off your computer, put away your work phone, and embrace being off the clock. And remember, we teach people how to treat us. If you answer emails while on vacation or take work calls during dinner, people will assume it is OK to continue crossing those boundaries in the future.
Prioritize joy– You’ve probably heard the adage, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Putting yourself last on your list is a direct path to burnout. Take time to do some things just because they make you feel good. Give yourself the gift of something silly, fun, and joyful for no reason other than the fact that you deserve it.
Nurture your support system– Truly, nobody can do it all alone. Notice the people in your personal and professional life who help you feel like your best self and nurture those relationships. Having a standing lunch date with a favorite coworker to look forward to can give you the boost you need to get through a rough week, and being a sympathetic ear for a stressed-out friend can help to grow your empathy and give you a better perspective on the challenges you are facing.
Don’t wait too long to take a break- Whether it is a 20-minute walk in the afternoon or a weeklong vacation, take your breaks, even if you don’t think you need them. Don’t wait for your battery to die before you recharge it. Make it a practice to take time for yourself, and when you return, you will show up rested and ready to go.
When it comes to avoiding burnout, you are your own best advocate. No one benefits when an employee burns out, but you are the only person who can decide what you need. By being clear about your priorities and developing healthy boundaries and habits you can design a life and career that is satisfying, not depleting.