You are not going to be part of the Great Resignation. You just are not. Yes, work has been overwhelming lately, and you have lost touch with why you do what you do. But you can not stop, right? You have some children, or 17 years left on the mortgage. Or you just fundamentally like what you do, but it’s a struggle to get it actually done.
And maybe the changes you made to your life during the pandemic, as strange as it feels to admit, were pretty positive. You may be working more from home. Maybe you stopped drinking (at least Monday through Wednesday) or you ran trail (this morning 900 feet high!). But even thinking about work leaves you exhausted. Unsenthusiastic. You are brittle around the edges.
What to do now: Bringing yourself back after being roasted is about adjusting how you think and what strategies you use to prevent getting burned again in the future. Consider the following. . . .
Interview your urge to quit
The problem with quitting is that quitting is a lot of work. Suppose you decide to do something new. “To make it consistent with what you’ve done before, you usually work more hours,” says Manhattan-based clinical psychologist Brien Kelley, Ph.D. “Worse, you work less-limited hours.” So before you get the heck out of your current job, you have to wonder, “What’s the other side of quitting?” Note: Rushing is mostly unpaid work.
Find your 2 percent
When career strategist Stacey Staterman coaching someone through feelings of burnout and disillusionment, she tells them they can handle about 98 percent of the debt in the workplace. It’s true, employers cut people and left you to pick up the slack, so there’s no way you can close your laptop at 6 p.m. “The safety net is full of holes, and there is pressure from above, and everything just got faster and more expensive,” says Kelley.
Yet it is only 98 percent. “You have to ask yourself, ‘What is my 2 percent?’ Says Staaterman. “Maybe it’s that you can say no to no one. Maybe it’s that you treat everything on your to-do list as equally important, so you are always in a pressure cooker. ” These are the things that will travel with you from place to place and burn you out again and again. Drill down and find your patterns.
Meaningful work can burn you out just as much as meaningless work. People who think they have a passion for something and do not find it in what they do, report lower job and life satisfaction, more conflict with colleagues and higher burnout, say Kira Schabram, Ph.D.., a burnout researcher at the University of Washington.
Schabram saw this clearly in research she and a colleague did with animal shelter workers. They assumed that those who were most passionate would also be most likely to do well. They found the exact opposite: Those who came in to make the world a better place for animals worked long hours, neglected other parts of their lives, and felt overwhelmed by stress. But those who said, “I’m just here to work, to learn and to be part of a community” led the field 20 years later, she says.
What you really need from a job is not “meaning”; it is to feel that you have autonomy and competence — the feeling that you can master what you do and that you are connected to others. Living without this “satisfaction”, as researchers call it, is a thinner to burnout. It turns out that this is not something you start and work from. Instead, it is the act of meeting these needs — deciding how to apply your mastery skills, for example — that creates meaningful work. Sit down and find out which of them are missing and what you can do about it, says Staaterman.
Skip work-guaranteed wellness
Employers like wellness initiatives. Mental health experts understand why you do not. “You work at one place or another and you work out 85, 90 hours a week, and then they throw you a workshop. . . an awareness workshop? ” says Kelley. It feels like one more thing to do. And it may not even be effective. A 2019 Harvard Medical School study found that one large company’s wellness program for the workplace did not ultimately improve crucial markers of wellness: absenteeism, job performance, and health care spending. Instead, a change to a more supportive corporate culture can help. Burnout researcher Christina Maslach, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkeley, puts it this way: “Imagine examining the personality of cucumbers to find out why they turned into sour pickles without dipping the vinegar barrels into them. , to analyze. . ” But for many people, corporate change is not going to happen.
If this is the case, then “you have to look at all the systems and processes you are involved in and ask, ‘What can I control? What can I influence? And what can I absolutely not control?'” Says Staaterman. at least one small step to control that you can control.
Take transgressive breaks
Experts agree that working harder will not get you burned out. Pausing for a moment and doing something else might. But here’s the thing: You need a break that’s not just a walk-around-the-block / call-a-friend break. It should feel like something you are not “supposed” to do. It should not be something that brings you forward or that you have to accommodate, like going on a long hike so you can post about it. Kelley says, “For example, if I have all sorts of billing locks to do, but I only had an early afternoon cancellation for an hour, you better believe I’m taking an afternoon nap.”
This type of break may not be easy at first. Best-selling author Eve Rodsky’s new book, Find your Unicorn Space, is about how to make time for yourself when you do not have time. In interviews with 750 people for this and a previous book, she saw that no one feels guilty when they make money from a sideline. They did not feel guilty when they got older or when they took care of someone, but the second time they did not take on any of those roles, the idea of “Oh, I can not do that. I do not have time ”comes out.
The things you “do not have time” to do are exactly what you need to do. “Going to the gym is great, but it’s your baseline,” Rodsky says. “I’m talking about flourishing. To thrive comes with the active pursuit of what makes you — and to share it with the world. ” Give yourself permission not to be available from your other roles and do what does not bring you forward. Ideally, share it with others. Take a hike on your favorite trail with your friends. Teach someone to play drums.
Because of course those activities actually bring you forward. Make time for them. Look at it this way: The extra time you gave work adds up. A nap here, a drum riff there is not a concession in today’s work environment. Work pushes us into our lives, so we need to impress what we rejuvenate into “work time”.
When you commit to meaningful breaks – even short ones – you not only restore your energy and optimism; you also restore work’s real role in your life. It’s not a monolithic, oppressive everything, but rather something you can manipulate when it asks too much of you. The Great Resignation leaves many workers with more leverage. Do not stop. Push back.
This article originally appeared in the January / February 2022 issue of Men’s health.
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